GUEST POST:// Jo Allen is a final year ordinand at Wycliffe Hall and a mixed-mode ordinand in Oxford Diocese. A wife and mum to three children, she’s called to pioneering and rural ministry and will continue to explore both once she’s ordained next Petertide.
As I drive home from dropping my three children off at school – one in tears – half expecting a phone call from school, I’m listening to Will Raegan and find myself worshipping. God shows me that, for now, I’m called to set the countryside on fire for Him. It’s the reminder that I needed at the end of a busy term and at the beginning of a busy season.
I’m a mixed-mode ordinand at Wycliffe Hall, in my third year, participating with the Spirit in growing a new expression of church in a rural benefice. A mixed-moder at Wycliffe fits a full-time degree into part -time hours, works for the church, and tries to maintain their sanity whilst somehow still prioritising family. There are few ordinands at Wycliffe Hall called to rural ministry, and no one else currently pioneering fresh expressions of church. It can be incredibly lonely, but I am immensely grateful for the love and support of my friends and tutors who battle my ideas out with me and who encourage me to keep going.
But… I love it because I’ve had the delight of watching God start a new worshipping community right here in rural Oxfordshire. No amount of academic work could prepare me for ministry quite like this does. In the space of three years, the Holy Spirit has reached those who don’t come into the church, gathered them, and grown a new worshipping community – and it’s been a whirlwind to lead.
When I began questioning my call to ordination, many confirmed my call, but some also questioned how I would survive in the Church of England, with its leadership structure and traditional values. I remember one of my pastors saying ‘Jo, why don’t you just be like Paul?’ Which meant, keep doing what you are doing and share Jesus with the people God sends you to. He recognised my apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic gifting, and could not see how the Church of England would affirm and release me.
Well, I write to you this Advent to say that, in my eight years of waiting to get to a BAP, the Church of England has affirmed and released me, and many others just like me too.
We may not all be called to rural ministry, but I see an army of Christians who want to see the church ablaze with the Glory of God, and it excites me, and I am so humbled to be called to join in. God’s on a mission, and it’s an utter joy to see life springing up in unexpected places as I learn to trust God’s voice, lean into Holy Spirit’s guiding, and take the light of Jesus into dark places as a leader in the Anglican church.
It’s not all roses, and there are a lot of tears. I’ve had to really look after my mental health and learn to give up my day to Jesus’s guidance so that I actually get everything done. In reality, although it supports and ordains pioneers, the Church of England is not always set up for fresh expressions of church, but it is recognising and releasing us. I have to expend a lot of my mental energy on prayer and spiritual warfare, before even beginning to figure out how to communicate a new missional adventure to a traditional church. I can get tired, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, because right where everyone says the church is dead, I’m seeing people’s eyes open and hearts set ablaze for him … Missio Dei – God’s mission – we are just called to join in and it’s incredibly exciting!
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!