Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Cambridge, but my Dad was ordained when I was small and we moved to Southend, so I consider myself well and truly from Essex. I’ve always felt that my faith story didn’t really have a spectacular beginning or anything, but a significant point for me was re-affirming my baptism vows when I was a teenager. I had some difficult stages with faith as a teenager; being a clergy kid and then being a young carer was sometimes tough, but in the long run it deepened my relationship with God. I was adamant that I would never work for a church, but in my early twenties, I had a significant Holy Spirit encounter that completely changed where I was heading in my work. I felt a call to employment in the church, and I told myself I would never be ordained but after much resistance on my part and a lot of encouragement from people in my life, God led me on the journey to ordained ministry.
What drew you to study and train for ordination at St Mellitus College?
I knew some previous students from St Mellitus College, who had positive experiences here and were thriving in their following ministries. It was helpful hearing their experiences, knowing that I would be supported and nurtured in both my study and church life. I was able to attend an Open Day for myself, which helped me to see the college in action. I was particularly excited about the prospect of studying alongside people from different backgrounds and styles of worship and learning more from a variety of contexts. I also knew I needed to continue working alongside my studies, my husband and I both work, and so being able to study in a non-residential setting has been really helpful for my situation. I liked the concept of being able to apply what I was currently learning in college to my work and church life Also, there is an incredible team of lecturers and staff at the college - I was excited to learn from them.
What has been a highlight of your studies?
I love deepening my understanding of God’s word, and I’ve also really enjoyed studying alongside people from different contexts. For me, this has been a truly enriching and transformative experience. I also love that whilst we study, we’re able to use what we learn in college in our church placement context. I studied Psychology in my previous degree, and when I left there I never thought I would go back to formal education, so having the opportunity to undertake the Theology, Mission, and Ministry BA as an ordinand has been really special.
How would you describe your time at St Mellitus College?
Exciting! I have a year left and I know it’s going to go so quickly, so I’m trying to take it all in! Of course, some moments are challenging, and assignments are far from easy, but it is a fantastic community to be a part of. There is lots of joy and fun to be had at college, but also times of supporting others and being supported yourself. My college experience has been formational in my journey with God, helping me to grow and develop as a person and future priest.
How is your leadership being shaped by your studies?
Training has helped to grow my confidence, have new opportunities, and to widen my experience of church contexts. The knowledge we gain in our studies enables us to approach leadership in new and exciting ways and being able to learn from the experience of both staff and students is insightful.
How is your training impacted your ministry now?
In my first year of college, I was a Youth and Schools Worker in a church I had been working for five years. During this time I was able to increase my preaching experience and use the experience from my studies in my pastoring to young people, families, and schools. I now work for the Chelmsford Diocese as a Youth Advisor and am in a different church context. I feel really blessed in being able to use what I am learning in my current role across churches and wider organisations, and in continuing to build on this for future ministry.
What would you advise people looking for somewhere to train?
You’re 100% allowed to ask questions and to be you. Find a college that will enable you to flourish as who God has called you to be. Don’t feel that you need to conform to a stereotype. Make sure that wherever you choose to study you are being supported, not only in your ministry but most importantly in your relationship with Jesus.
Charley Day is an ordinand studying at St Mellitus College, Chelmsford.