The ordination of the first three people to serve in the Ordained Local Ministry in Connor Diocese took place at Lisburn Cathedral on Sunday September 22.
Adrian Bell, Louise Bowes and Anne Locke were ordained by The Rt Rev Patrick Rooke, Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, as the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, is currently on sick leave.
Adrian was ordained for the Parishes of St Andrew, Glencairn and Whiterock, Belfast; Louise for Mossley Parish; and Anne for Whitehouse and St Ninian, Belfast.
The preacher at the service was the Rev Canon Kevin Graham, Diocesan Director of Ordinands.
An ordained local minister is not an incumbent of a parish but is someone who can exercise some leadership role within a local congregation – the nature of their deployment can vary from diocese to diocese.
We invited the three OLMs to tell us a bit about themselves and what inspired them to this new ministry in the Church of Ireland.
My name is Adrian Bell, and I’m married to Janet. I have lived in or near Glenavy village all my life, and have worshipped in St Aidan’s, Glenavy Parish, since childhood.
For most of my adult life I worked in the joinery business, and I also spent a few years in the catering industry. I came into a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in 2012 and immediately felt God’s call on my life to share the good news of the Gospel with others.
I trained as a Diocesan Lay Reader and was licensed in November 2016. I then went to the Parishes of Glencairn and Whiterock in north Belfast to serve my probationary year as a Reader. The following year the parishes became vacant and since I was semi-retired, I was able to take a more active day-to-day role. This has involved organising and taking Sunday services and mid-week Bible studies, and the pastoral care of both congregations.
Obviously as a Lay Reader there are things I can’t do, such as Holy Communion services and baptisms, so this led me to explore the Ordained Local Ministry. It seemed an ideal fit for my circumstances, and I was accepted for training starting in September 2018.
I now look forward to continuing my training and ministry after ordination. I love working in these parishes and have appreciated the prayerful support of both congregations. I’m also very grateful for the ongoing support and guidance of the clergy and Church Army in Mid-Belfast rural deanery, especially the Rev Campbell Dixon and the Rural Dean, the Rev Tracey McRoberts. It’s been an exciting journey for me and my wife, and we look forward to continuing to serve God together.
I was an active parishioner of St Brigid’s Parish of Mallusk. Following a Lenten Bible study based on John Ortberg’s book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, I felt God’s call to get out of the boat.
I knew as I stepped out in faith that while I had potential, I would be taken outside of my comfort zone. I also knew that out on the risky waters of faith I would be challenged but that Jesus would meet me in ways that would change me forever, deepen my faith, my character and trust in God.
I was already engaged with youth ministry and an alternative Sunday service, CHAT (CHildren and Adults Together), and on stepping out of the boat I was encouraged to apply for diocesan lay reader training.
Following commissioning as a diocesan lay reader in October 2011, I had year’s placement in Church of the Holy Spirit, Mossley. On completion of this, I strongly felt God’s desire for me, and my family, to remain here.
From stepping out of the boat I have been on an amazing voyage that has moored me in Mossley, a nurturing community which I know well and am firmly anchored in.
Outside of parish life, I am involved with two ecumenical organisations. I have been a Street Pastor since September 2013 (Antrim and Newtownabbey) and was appointed as the Northern Ireland representative on the National Committee of World Day of Prayer (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) in September 2015. They are two amazing movements and contribute so much to society.
I have felt a call to ordained ministry for a number of years and with the encouragement of our rector, the Rev Peter Jones, I applied for Ordained Local Ministry.
I am very much looking forward to engaging in ministry in Mossley Parish. I will have a particular focus on the pastoral care of housebound parishioners and those currently residing in nursing homes and folds. Additionally, I will be supporting the rector in engaging with the local community and developing new missional approaches in the wider Mossley area.
I am blessed to have the support of my husband, Alan, and family, and am excited and looking forward to the opportunities, as well as the challenges, this unique and exciting ministry will bring.
I have been married to Arthur for 38 years and we have two children, Simon and Ruth. I attended Whitehouse Primary School and then Hopefield Secondary School. I have also attended further and higher education colleges and completed a Diploma in Information Technology. At Belfast Bible College I undertook an Access Course and Foundation Award and also some evening classes.
I was commissioned as a Parish Reader in 2013. In 2015 I commenced the Foundation Course which was successfully completed in April 2016.
I work part-time with Disability Action, a rights-based voluntary organisation working for the rights of disabled people. I work within the Employment and Training Unit which provides a range of supports to young disabled people in training and to adults with disabilities who wish to secure paid employment or are already in employment.
As an OLM I am able to fulfil my calling to ordained ministry whilst remaining in my home parish, a calling first recognised in me by others long before I recognised it for myself. I will be ministering amongst people who have loved, nurtured and encouraged me over the years, and where I will continue to assist with services, pastoral visiting and other aspects of parish life.