Diocese of Portsmouth

    Car crash prompted Amy to respond to God's call

    Faith stories
    30 June 2015
    The Rev Amy Webb
    Amy's car after the crash

    IT was a car crash in France that prompted Amy Webb to realise what God wanted her to do.

    The car rolled over twice with Amy and her daughters, then aged seven and five, inside. Although the car was totally destroyed, miraculously none of them were hurt. Amy had a real sense of God’s presence – and also that life was short.

    She realised it was worth doing something about her feeling that God was calling her to become ordained as a clergy person in the Church of England.

    The 40-year-old, who was worshipping at St John’s Church, Fareham, is now preparing to become the curate in the villages of Botley, Curdridge and Durley after her ordination in Portsmouth Cathedral on July 4.

    She will be one of six people ordained as deacon - the first stage of ordination, which means you are called ‘the Reverend’, can wear a dog collar, preach and lead services. Another six people who were ordained deacon last summer will be ordained as priests at our cathedral – that means they’ll be able to lead Holy Communion and wedding services as well.

    Amy said: “I had joined the choir at St Columba Church in Fareham when I was 11, but then drifted away from church when I was about 16. I was married at 22 and had my girls when I was 26 and 28, but my marriage was falling apart. Five weeks after my second daughter was born, my husband left me. We’d made a bit of a mess of our lives.

    “By that time, I’d become involved with St John’s Church, through an Alpha course. I saw a leaflet come through the door, went along and found them very welcoming. I became more involved with the church and over the last 15 years, they’ve helped me through the end of my marriage, my divorce and bringing up two girls.

    “Because I was on my own, I asked if a Bible study group could meet at my house. One of the people in that group was Mark, who later became my husband.

    “My vicar Peter Hall led a sermon series that encouraged us to look at our gifts and what we felt called to. I felt God might be calling me to speak in church, which was surprising because my background is art. I thought perhaps I could be a Reader (a lay minister who also leads services). My mother-in-law Liz mentioned it to Peter, and he told her ‘She’s not right to be a Reader’. What I didn’t realise was that he felt I would be suitable for ordination!

    “I left it and didn’t do anything about it until the car crash in France. When the car came to rest in this field, I had this amazing sense of God’s presence in the silence. It was a desperate situation – I’d bought the car with my divorce money, the insurance didn’t cover it, and I lost the ferry ticket in the crash. But I was alive and so were the girls, and I felt that God was saying to me that my life could end at any time and what was I going to do with it?”

    Among the others who are being ordained this Saturday is Chris Richardson, 42, and a father-of-two. He was worshipping at St Jude’s Church in Southsea, but has moved to Gosport ahead of starting work as curate of St Mary’s, St Faith’s and St Francis Churches, in Alverstoke.

    He first sensed God’s call 20 years ago when working for a church in Manchester as part of a gap year. He trained as a teacher and worked in primary schools in Portchester and Southsea. But he kept feeling God’s call to ordained ministry.

    “The year I spent in Manchester was formational, because I was doing visiting and listening to people’s stories all the time,” he said. “I discovered that most of the time people weren’t actually looking for help – they just wanted someone to be there for them.

    “I think I’ll feel excited and joyful at my ordination, as it will be the fulfilment of my calling. It will be a huge privilege to have the time to serve God. I enjoy the pastoral side and sharing other people’s journeys, although I know that can be hard as well. I love sharing God’s word and seeing how it applies to people’s lives.”

    The full list of those being ordained deacon, at 11am on Saturday 4 July, in Portsmouth Cathedral is:

    Stephen Dent (to serve at St Faith’s, Lee-on-the-Solent), Andrew Goy (to serve at Church of the Good Shepherd, Crookhorn), Kate Marlow (to serve at St Cuthbert’s Church, Copnor), Darcy Chesterfield-Terry (to serve at St Mary’s, Fratton), Chris Richardson (to serve at St Mary’s, St Faith’s and St Francis, Alverstoke), and Amy Webb (to serve at All Saints, Botley, St Peter’s, Curdridge, and Holy Cross, Durley).

    The full list of those being ordained priest at 6pm on Saturday 4 July, in Portsmouth Cathedral is:

    The Rev Max Cross (already serving at St Mary Magdalen, Sheet), the Rev Jane Isaac (already serving at All Saints & St Michael’s Churches, Ryde), the Rev Barbara O’Sullivan (already serving at St Mary’s, Fratton), the Rev Garry Roberts (already serving at Holy Trinity & St Columba, Fareham), and the Rev Mark Williams (already serving at St Mary’s, Portchester)

    And one person is being ordained priest at St Michael’s Church, Paulsgrove, at 7pm on Monday 6 July:

    The Rev Luke O’Maoil Mheana (already serving at St Michael’s, Paulsgrove)