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How Richard Flenley was called

We are continuing the series of stories celebrating our soon-to-be Reverends as we head towards the ordination weekend on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June. Today's story comes from Richard Flenley.

How was Richard called?

I am not someone who has had the privilege of a significant event which I can associate with a sudden calling to the Christian faith; no sort of “Damascus Road” moment that I can call my own.

I have, however, had the privilege of being brought up in a Christian household where faith was given the opportunity to grow, slowly and surely, with the reassuring support from both my parents and wider church family. And I do very much mean it when I say privilege. I am only too aware that this is not everyone’s experience of coming to faith.

As I write this, I am caused to reflect on a very special few days spent in study and on retreat in a joint residential shared between the final year ordinands studying on Guildford Diocese’s Local Ministry Programme and the ordinands from the equivalent programme from Winchester Diocese.
This was particularly special for me because my own journey towards ordination sees at least part of its genesis in my upbringing in the Vicarage in Micheldever, a parish in the Diocese of Winchester. Being a teenager in that context undoubtedly brought its challenges, but it modelled for me much of what I see as being so special in rural parish ministry. The role of faith and of the parish church intertwined with the busyness of rural life in all of its forms.

Those with me at that retreat will have heard me talk about moments where I questioned my faith, but also of my sense of calling in my late teens towards ordained ministry, albeit very much a “not yet” calling - a sense of calling I shared with one of the key members of the benefice of which Micheldever formed part. There were things I had to do, life that I had to experience before the time would be right.

Fast forward 25 years or so, and I feel that the time is now right.

My young family and I moved from our home in South Manchester to the village of Chiddingfold where we have become active members of the church. I have read, interceded, been a chalice assistant, been on the PCC, and become an Occasional Preacher. The incumbent when we moved here, Sarah Brough, and the current incumbent, Rachel Greene, have both encouraged my growth in faith and my sense of calling to ordained ministry.

It may have been 45 years in the making, but I am here now and committed to offering myself to ordained ministry in God’s mission in Chiddingfold.

I would very much say to those reading this that, to coin a phrase from a priest who spoke to me on a family holiday many years ago, “Never stop listening”.

If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Romans 10:9-10

Find out more on our ordinations page.

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