Interview: A Life Less Ordinand

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I’m delighted to be a finalist for Multi-Author Blog of the Year at the Premier Digital Awards! Thank you so much to all who nominated me and especially to all who have contributed to ‘Confessions of a Trainee Vicar’ – you are great! Ordinands, why not write for the blog? Get in touch. 

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A Life Less Ordinand is a podcast by Wycliffe Hall ordinands Laura Collingridge and Kate Pellereau. It’s an easy-listen on life as an ordinand, thoughts on a myriad of theological issues, and gentle ribbing between friends. I interviewed Laura and Kate on how their podcast came about and asked them one of the most pressing questions about the Reformation…

Can you introduce yourselves in seven words?

Kate: Loves Jesus, jokes, gin, tennis, cricket.

Laura: Jesus enthusiast, parkrun fanatic, joy-bringer

So, that’ll be a ‘no’ then! 

What is A Life Less Ordinand and how did it come about?

Laura: A Life Less Ordinand is a podcast where we share our general musings about life at theological college. We pick different topics to chat about each week, often inspired by what we’ve been learning about (and then do varying levels of research/come prepped with a plethora of opinions but no actual facts!!).

Kate: Haha, I love facts and research but we do sometimes just chat from zero actual knowledge, and having now been to other podcast recordings this probably isn’t the best way to do it!

Laura: It originated from a book Kate wanted to write called Theology for Basic Bitches… but decided maybe the title was a bit too controversial and in the end we went for something a bit lighter in title and ambition! 

I would 100% read this book! 

Kate: Laura and I both love The High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes and we basically thought it would be fun to do a ordinand version. After some initial research it seemed that recording and editing a podcast wasn’t that complicated so we thought we would give it a go. Yes, I did want to go for Theology for Basic Bitches, but my mum vetoed it, and we toyed with Yahweh or the High Way. People think theology is inaccessible but we wanted to show it isn’t and generally muse on topics we find interesting.

What has been your favourite episode so far and why?

Kate: Absolute nerd alert (DING DONG: KATE LOVES TO LEARN) but I loved our time in York when we went to Whitby Abbey and Lindisfarne and I kept Laura entertained with extracts from Bede’s Ecclesiastical history of the English people. So amazing to learn of the incredible faith of the early church and read about the miracles done by them. I also loved mocking Laura for not knowing the Ten Commandments and teasing her for her so-called love of the environment but the exact amount of flights she has gone on this year. Reader, she is about to go to Geneva. I’m sure she’ll take her Mooncup and bamboo toothbrush though.

Equally as two people who come from slightly different spaces in the evangelical church I have learnt so much from our friendships and definitely think the way I express my faith has developed and changed through my friendship with Laura. Thanks, pal.

Laura: I think my favourites were the Easter ‘vacation’ episodes where we reflected on our mission to York and visited various church history sites. We did an episode on biblical feminism which I wouldn’t necessarily describe as a huge success but we got loads of responses and engagement from some of our regular listeners which I’ve loved – part of the fun of the podcast has been feedback and interaction with others, including some of our new Twitter pals!

What is a topic that each of you really want to discuss but the other resolutely refuses to?

Kate: Very boringly we have always agreed on what to talk about. There are a few topics that we know are contentious and challenging but we just don’t think we have the bravery to talk about them. Life is hard and we know that being ordained is going to be challenging so right now we have focused more on topics we find interesting.

Laura: I agree – there are some topics that we have considered but decided they are a bit too contentious for the time being. Theological college can be an incredibly intense experience at times and part of the dream was to have a fun outlet for some of our wonderings. Talking about the environment and feminism has been controversial and exposing enough for the time being!

How much of a serious endeavour should ordination training be?

Kate: Definitely serious, it’s a big decision to leave a career and retrain and I am only doing it because I think doing so is obedient to God’s call on my life. Being ordained is going to be hard, there is so much I have needed to learn this year. And what’s helpful is that Twitter keeps telling me that the way my college is preparing my for my ordination is totally useless and wrong. Thanks, Twitter. I never forget what an immense privilege it is that I have paused normal life and the church is giving me these two years in order to learn and study. For an ex-teacher life at college is so different!

However, I live for fun and as community is hard I have committed this year to doing my best to bring the fun to the people at college. Think dinners, and brunches and quizzes and drinks parties. These are absolutely my bag. Turns out not everyone loves to throw a social event, but I do and I have the time to do it so have fully embraced this role to the best of my ability.

Kate did a brilliant Eurovision quiz which I won. By a mile. 

Laura: It is serious! But I would say, like many things in life, take it seriously but hold it lightly. Training for ordination is a gift and a privilege, even though it doesn’t often feel like it when you get to week 6 of term. But I think following Jesus is something that we ought to take seriously, and there will be times when that is really hard and then times when that is a total joy!

At we approach the start of the new year, I’ve been thinking about what advice I’d give to someone starting training, and my advice would be to throw yourself in, embrace all that training has to offer, but also remember to have fun along the way- that will look different for different people but make sure you find a way of retaining perspective, and maybe don’t take yourself too seriously!  

How do you keep close to God amidst the chaos of ordination training?

Kate: My relationship with God is the centre pin of my life. I start every day with reading the bible and just soaking my time in time with him. Laura talks about the chair where you can approach the throne (can’t remember the exact phrase) I definitely have this and I just sit there and share my worries and fears with God. I have also really appreciated the rhythm of worship we have at college. When faced with an opportunity to skive chapel (don’t tell my fellowship group tutor) I found myself getting up early to race back to college as I couldn’t imagine not starting with worship surrounded by my community.

Funny thing about college has been the amount of topics we can all disagree on. I do my best to avoid this as much as possible, I made an effort when I arrived to make friends around the city as I struggle living in a bubble. I genuinely think this and my commitment to ball sports has helped me to focus on what is most edifying for me in my training journey.

Laura: I’m a big fan of corporate prayer and worship, so I knew it would be important to find great people to do that with. Some of those people are in college (my wonderful prayer triplet), my fellowship group, worship nights, and some are outside college (I joined a small group at my church where I can go and just ‘be’). But also spending time in the secret place has been so important, it took a while for me to find that ‘thin place’ where I can be with the Lord in silence and solitude, but having found it has meant that I’ve felt much closer to God amongst the chaos.

John Wycliffe, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley: snog, marry, avoid?

Kate: Avoid Wycliffe – what a beard? Definitely too much to handle.

Marry Ridley – I think Kate Ridley has quite the ring to it.

Snog Cranmer – He comes across as a man of passion, think of his dedication to the reformation journey.

Laura: Avoid Ridley – what did he actually do?!

Marry Wycliffe – I’m a fan of anyone who is ahead of the times

Snog Cranmer –  I’d rather give him a hug, I can’t imagine being locked up in the tower and have to hear your friends burn to death knowing that would also be your ultimate fate 

There you have it – check out A Life Less Ordinand available on all podcast streaming platforms!

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Are you an ordinand? Would you like to write for ‘Confessions of a Trainee Vicar?’ Use the ‘Contact’ page to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you – and I know others would too!


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