We are thrilled to welcome Phil Bishop, as our new Curate, and his wife Caroline. Phil was Licenced on 2 July and formally welcomed at the beginning of the All Age Service on 5 July (watch this here). Phil introduces himself below.
Well, it’s great to have finally arrived in the parish. It seems to have been long anticipated – it’s well over a year since I first met Paul, and since my wife, Caroline and I, made an exploratory visit, being warmly welcomed at Sunday worship. Of course, the current situation is rather different to the circumstances under which I’d expected to arrive, but in changing times, it’s good to remind ourselves that God’s goodness, kindness and love for us are unchanging.
However, it’s often said that change is the one thing we can be certain of, and that has definitely been the case for us in the last couple of years. My 2 years training at St Mellitus College in Liverpool, alongside 3 days a week in placement, learning and serving in the parishes of Stockton Heath and Latchford are complete and I look forward to growing into ministry at St Mary’s, even if we don’t quite know what that will look like yet. I should also add that this represents a return to this deanery, as my sending church was St Wilfrid’s in Davenham where we worshipped from 2004 to 2018. It was there that I began to recognise God was calling me into ministry.
It was on a leadership training course in 2009, when I felt challenged as to how I could use my gifts and talents more effectively in God’s service, and I was greatly encouraged by others who had already recognised my potential, even if I’d previously managed to ignore their promptings! I was licensed as a Reader in 2014, but over the next few years I felt God calling me to ordination, something I wrestled with, not least because I firmly believe in encouraging and enabling lay ministry. However, at that time God spoke to me in numerous ways.
On one occasion, I remember being on holiday in Pembrokeshire, where we visited a retreat centre, Ffald-y-Brenin, for times of prayer; it’s a place my wife and I seem to have gravitated to at significant moments in our lives. The verse ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest’ (Matthew 9:37-38) particularly stood out, and also that God was setting before me a choice. So it was, 2 years ago, I responded to God’s call, choosing to leave my job as a project manager working for an insulation manufacturer to begin training for ordained ministry. And that call has now brought me to St Mary’s – I am delighted to be worshipping and serving our wonderful Lord Jesus with you.