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You’re not too late: how women paved the way for Sara to begin LLM training

2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the first ordinations of women priests in England. But women have been leading and inspiring others in their faith for far more than 30 years.

Sara wearing a black top stood in front of horizontal blindsEncouragement, teaching and leadership from women is something that Sara Holland has experienced in her own journey to becoming a Licensed Lay Minister (LLM). Sara's inspiration to answer God's call to ministerial training comes from women in her church, in Diocese leadership roles and in the Bible.

Meeting inspirational women

Sara was authorised as a Pastoral Assistant 10 years ago and always thought there was more to her calling. It was coming out of lockdown that her vicar invited her to attend the Occasional Preaching Course that began a new journey.

Being part of the Parish Team that took part in the Leading Evangelism Hub (LEH), Sara found her path constantly colliding with Sarah Slater's (Diocesan Training Lead). Be that at the Pastoral Assistants annual training day, LEH, or when she attended the Diocesan Nudge evening. Ultimately when Sarah attended an evening run by Sara’s Curate, Katrina Jenkins.

After feeling scared to share and wanting to refuse the microphone Sara gave her testimony. “The comments from people were so supportive and incredible. It altered how I viewed the different stages of my life.”  

Sara kept bumping into Sarah. Perhaps God was putting them in each other’s paths for a reason.

Being inspired by women in the Bible

Sara describes having a “fascination with Anna”, whose story we read in the book of Luke.

‘There was also a prophet, Anna. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.’ Luke 2:36-38

Sara explains her connection with Anna. “She was a lady who had such heartache and gained so much knowledge. Yet it wasn’t until her later years that she had that moment of discovering her ministry and meeting Jesus. I resonate with her story.”

After attending a ministry training information evening, Sara says, “I felt too old and deflated. Felt like I’d missed the boat for training. I hadn’t done any academic stuff for 40+ years.”

But, Sara hadn’t missed the boat at all. God continued to use key women around her to help her decide to start training.

Listening to women in leadership

Sara’s church, St. Peter’s Church Hersham, is led by a team of women. It was Sara’s Vicar who encouraged her to speak with Sarah Slater about LAM training. Within 10 minutes of the conversation, Sarah had invited her to apply for LLM training. And within 7 days Sara was at the LLM discernment panel.  

Sara remembers “feeling like a wild card at the panel”.

But, it only took a few hours for Sara to be accepted onto the training programme! If she had waited, if she hadn’t listened to her Vicar or hadn’t spoken to Sarah she could have missed out on the opportunity to start her ministry training.

Reflecting on Sara’s story, and thinking about the key women in her journey towards ministry training, leaves us asking: who are the women in your life who have encouraged you and inspired you to be where you are today?

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