Deacons prepare to go forth after ordinations

The Oxford Times: David Spence with sons Daniel, four, and Joel, one, and wife Ellie. Picture OX60176 Antony Moore Buy this photo » David Spence with sons Daniel, four, and Joel, one, and wife Ellie. Picture OX60176 Antony Moore

ALEX and Kristy Ross were just like the other 26 deacons newly ordained at Christ Church except for one crucial difference: they’ll be spreading the word on the other side of the world.

While the other 26 will be sent to parishes across the Thames Valley, Mr and Mrs Ross will be going to Australia.

The couple have been studying for the past two years at Ripon College in Cuddesdon after having met at a church in Melbourne five years ago.

Mrs Ross, now 24, originally from Salisbury, was studying theology in Melbourne at the time.

Three years later they got married, and the next day flew to England in order to continue their studies at Ripon.

Now they will travel back to Australia to begin their diaconal roles in two different parishes near Melbourne.

Seven of those ordained on Saturday will be working in Oxfordshire, serving as deacons for about a year before being ordained as priests.

David Spence, from Filkins, though, will begin his diaconal role in the Shill Valley and Broadshire Benefice in west Oxfordshire.

Mr Spence said he is looking forward to starting his new life with his wife Ellie and their sons Daniel four, and one-year-old Joel.

He added: “I was born on the island of Jersey so I like being in the country or near the sea.”

The trainee priests went on a three-day silent retreat last week at Ripon college in Cuddesdon with the Bishop of Oxford John Pritchard.

At the end of their time there, Rt Rev Pritchard gave his students his charge – their final address.

In it, he told his students how as deacons they will assist their parish priest with administering the sacrament and the eucharist, and also have a ministry role.

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Last year, Jonathan Vaughan from Woodstock was set to start a new life as a deacon in Kent with his wife Mandy.

She was eight months’ pregnant with their son Benjamin.

Then, in March, the unthinkable happened.

Benjamin died in childbirth and the couple’s plans were put on hold.

Mr Vaughan said: “We really felt God was opening up opportunities for us to share in Oxfordshire the hope that Christianity offers.”

But Mr Vaughan was unordained and without a church to begin his ministry.

Then the vicar of St Andrew’s, Andrew Wingfield Digby, offered Mr Vaughan a part-time curacy.

Mr Vaughan will work three days at the church, and spend three days in a part-time job.

Also being ordained to work in the county were Alastair Blaine, in Witney, Alistair Gibbs, who joins St Ebbe’s church in Oxford, Lisa Holmes, who starts with the Ray Valley Benefice, including Islip and Woodeaton, Emma Racklyeft for the Thame Team Ministry and Samantha Stayte, who will assist at St Michael and All Angels, Summertown.

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