Canon Kevin Graham MBE DL reflects on his time as DDO

Tuesday July 9th 2024

The Rev Canon Kevin Graham MBE DL.

Reflecting on his five years as Diocesan Director of Ordinands, the Rev Canon Kevin Graham MBE DL, whose retirement from this role was announced by Bishop George Davison at Connor Synod, said it had been ‘a real privilege to have served the diocese and the wider church in this capacity.’

Advising Synod that Kevin was standing down as DDO, Bishop George said the diocese had been ‘blessed’ to have had Kevin Graham as DDO.

“Kevin has undertaken that role diligently and has played a huge part in supporting a number of people through the process of discerning a call to ordination,” the Bishop said.

“During his time as DDO, he has worked alongside our Warden of Readers, the Rev Peter Jones to create a co-ordinated approach to vocations to ordained and lay ministry and overseen the change from a more traditional ‘Fellowship of Vocation’ to the ‘Discerning Ministry Connor’ group.”

The Bishop added: “A bishop works closely with their director of Ordinands and I personally have been immensely grateful to him for his diligence and wise advice.”

Kevin, who is rector of St Bartholomew’s, Stranmillis, says he clearly remembers the Archdeacon of Dalriada calling with him to ask if he would accept the invitation to become the Diocesan Director of Ordinands at the request of the former Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.

“I was at that time the Warden of Readers and having got to know our Readers over the previous year and a half, I was sorry to say goodbye to them, but I was honoured and humbled to be asked to be DDO,” Kevin says.

“So began almost five years journeying with many candidates discerning a call to ministry in the Church.

“Being the DDO isn’t just about ticking boxes and getting candidates through hoops but truly journeying with them in discerning what God may be calling them to do, perhaps ordination but also commissioned lay ministries or sector ministries such as chaplaincy, evangelist or other ministries.”

He continued: “Sometimes the discernment process didn’t end where a candidate thought it would and here the DDO would respond pastorally to assist them to further discern God’s call in their life.

“For those who were accepted for training for ordination, and having successfully completed that training, it was a real joy to join with them on their ordination services.

“I have been so blessed with the journeys I have shared and have learned much from them and I hope those with whom I have journeyed have also benefited from our time together.”

Kevin added: “I want to take this opportunity to thank a few people who have been enablers of this ministry I have been privileged to share in, firstly, the Diocesan Office staff for their admin support and invaluable knowledge. Thanks to the Incumbents of the candidates for their helpful insights. The bishop for his trust in me and allowing me to carry on in this ministry on his appointment. Finally, the Rev Peter Jones, Warden of Readers, for his wise support and friendship. It was great to have his objective insights as we together led the discerning ministry group and his valued input to our sessions.

“It was a real privilege to have served the diocese and the wider church in this capacity and I wish my successor every blessing and the wisdom of Solomon in the role of DDO. I would like to close with a few of Jesus’ words, ‘Come, follow me.’”

In his Presidential Address at Connor Synod in June, Bishop George said: “As I think about a new appointment as DDO and recognising the broadening range of vocational roles (OLM, Pioneer) in the Church of Ireland, I am taking time to reflect further on the whole area of vocational call. I will shortly announce the format of the team of people who might help us build on the excellent foundations already laid.”

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