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Senior teacher among those being ordained
IT’S not easy doing theological training when you’re also holding down a full-time, responsible job – but Clare King wouldn’t miss it for anything.
She had enough work already as Head of Science and Computer Science at the Bay C of E School on the Isle of Wight. But when she trained to become a lay minister, she’d dash straight from work to cross the Solent for training sessions on the Portsmouth Pathway.
Once God called her to ordination, it involved her doing something similar every Monday night. She’s one of seven people who will be ordained as clergy as part of our first Michaelmas cohort in September.
“Being on the Portsmouth Pathway was beyond my wildest expectations of awesome-ness,” she said. “It was the most incredible thing in terms of my journey of faith. It involved deconstructing my faith and reconstructing it again, with a fantastic group of people.
“I’d leave the house at 6.45am for a busy day at school as a head of department, scurry across on the fast cat, spend three hours on the Pathway, and only get back at 10.30pm. But I never missed an assignment. It’s similar now, but I do it on Monday nights and go to St Jude’s, Southsea.”
Clare’s grandfather was a vicar and her childhood involved church and Sunday School. She got to the age of 15 and her life became consumed with athletics. She didn’t re-find faith until she went to the USA to study for her Masters and Doctorate degrees.
“I was in Alabama and it’s a faith-driven community,” she said. “People would ask ‘Do you pray?’ and I was able to say I did – I’d never lost my ability to pray. I resisted church until one day when I went. It was very charismatic, with people speaking in tongues. I made friends and I fell in love with Calvary Baptist Church, and how people openly embraced Christ-like living.
“When I came back to the UK, I wanted to find a similar church. I tried 27 different churches in and around Southampton, but didn’t find one I liked.”
Clare met her husband, moved to the Isle of Wight and joined Holy Trinity Church, Bembridge, when her daughter was 18 months old. She thought it was important that her children learnt about faith and they grew up in the church.
“It was more old-fashioned and couldn’t be more different from my church in America,” she said. “But it’s where we needed to be. My son liked the echo and would roar like a dinosaur. The vicar just said all dinosaurs were welcome!”
Clare started teaching at the Sandown school that ultimately became The Bay C of E School. She already felt she had a ministry there talking to colleagues about faith, but being licensed as a Reader gave her more reason to talk about it and challenge misconceptions.
More recently, when Holy Trinity was between vicars, she found herself part of the team leading the church as the only person licensed as a lay minister to lead services.
“I didn’t really want to be the only leader in church,” she said. “I’d much rather be part of a team. But the new vicar, Steve Daughtery, was an answer to prayer in that he could show me a really positive view of what good leadership looks like.
“I realised that God still wants me to be a teacher, but one who can preach and teach in church, and more importantly bring people to know and love Jesus.
“I can still do Sunday School, lead Lent courses and other things, but I want God to use me for who I am, at work and in church. Ordination will be an acknowledgement that I have a formal role to play in sharing God’s love with others. I cannot wait.”