What led you to train for Church leadership?
I think I always knew I wanted to work in the church but I didn’t know in what capacity. I remember being in secondary school and everyone assuming that I was going to be a nun because I went to a Catholic school and I remember all my friends calling me their ‘religious’ friend.
When I was 19 years old I went to a church youth conference and I remember seeing this young girl – she must have been in her early 20s – who had been invited to give a talk at the conference and I thought to myself “That’s it! I relate to that. No – I don’t want to be a nun!” And so that’s where I started to really explore this idea of church leadership.
I became a secondary school teacher for ten years. I was working as an RE teacher, but felt over that time that little things kept reminding me “You’re called to teach but not in this capacity”. And so I spent a lot of time praying and felt God saying to me ‘explore this’, but I prayed and said “God I don’t know how to do this, will you just take control and make it happen if this is what you’re calling me to”. Then about a month later I was at a prayer meeting when a curate came up to me and asked me if I'd ever thought about ordination. And I said “Yes!” By this point, eleven years had passed that I’d been thinking about ordination and that got the ball rolling and that was how I ended up pursuing this call.
Why did you choose to train at St Mellitus College?
I felt comfortable in my place of work, and I needed to know that there was the option for me to stay where I was because this was such a new chapter and that I could hold on to a little bit of what was familiar to me. St Mellitus College gave me the options and flexibility I needed. It gave me more peace to know that I wasn’t just jumping head first into training (I’ve got bills to pay, I’ve got a mortgage to pay, I’ve got a dog) and so all those things, even though they seem minor, were really playing on my mind and I knew that St Mellitus College offered the flexibility I needed.
How has your leadership been shaped by your training?
I’ve experienced a variety of Christian traditions; being at St Mellitus College really grounded that and made me realise there are so many ways to worship and so many ways to be all part of one church. There was such beauty in that realisation, it calmed me and made me realise that we’re all one church and we’re all on this mission together.
I preached recently and I wondered if I would have been preaching like this before St Mellitus College. Now I was preaching and I was confident in what I was saying because of my training and I was confident that what I was saying was true and honest and it was life-giving. I don’t know if I would have preached like that a year ago.
What has been a highlight of your training so far?
My formation group is fantastic – we eat and get coffee together, we sit together during lectures, it’s just what we do ... there’s a real sense of safety and friendship. These are people I didn’t know a year ago and now I look forward to seeing them every week and going for walks with them and planning time with them. I didn’t think I was going to find people that I was going to look forward to sitting with and doing life with.
Would you recommend St Mellitus College to others?
Definitely! I think there’s so much life and so much freedom here, there is this continuous pattern that everyone is in this space learning together and no one is claiming to know everything, we’re all journeying and learning and working things through together and so I would definitely recommend St Mellitus College .
I am grateful to be at St Mellitus College. I’ve got to absolutely soak up everything because I am surrounded by giants and I just want to learn as much as possible because I know that the next year is going to fly by!
Jemima is now a curate at Holy Trinity Brompton, after being ordained in 2020.