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A New Partner in the Gospel

Just before the summer, the deanery was blessed with the arrival of two curates – trainee pastors (shepherds) – both of whom will be based in Ware for the next few years – one at St Mary’s and the other at Christ Church. I asked them if they would write a blogpost introducing themselves. Here’s the first one…

I’m Marcus, I am married to Jude and together we have a little girl. Originally from Northern Ireland, I grew up on the outskirts of Belfast whilst Jude is from slightly further north from a town called Ballymena.

We met in the beautiful part of Ireland that is County Donegal and we will eulogise at length about the place if you would ever like to hear about it. For most holidays we are often heading back to there or to the North Coast of Northern Ireland, we love the beaches there and getting into the Irish Sea.

I became a Christian at the age of 10. I was attending a youth event and the speaker told of how he had nearly died in a car crash and at that point in his life, with all he was doing, that his future did not lie with God. He decided from then on that he was going to change his life and live for Jesus and have a future in Heaven. I spent a lot of the rest of the evening chatting with him and one of my closest friends who was a bit older. They encouraged me to become a Christian and that night I did. I didn’t understand it all at that point, but I did know that I was choosing life with Christ, both now and for eternity.

It was attending an SU camp in Carrickfinn (Donegal) that I first really understood what being a Christian meant in my life. I had a set of leaders at camp who were and still are influential on my life, they taught me that Christianity is not just rules and turning up to church on a Sunday, but that it is life with Jesus every day, they showed me that Christianity was fun and was about a relationship with God. Camp and the leaders helped shape a lot of the character I have to this day.

Christianity is not just rules and turning up to church on a Sunday … it is life with Jesus every day

I have so much to thank my camp leaders for. I have continued to attend this camp almost every year since, 4 more years as a boy and since 2010 as a leader. This camp has been so influential on my life, with the friends I have made, the memories I have and most importantly the times I have spent with God in Carrickfinn. Having him work in me personally and seeing him work in the lives of other leaders and boys.

I went to school in Belfast and then went onto to study Civil Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. I enjoyed my degree and made great friendships, but I knew quite early on I didn’t want to be an engineer but I wasn’t quite ready to pursue ordination but I was certainly starting to think about ministry. I decided to dip my toe in the world of Church ministry and found a ministry apprentice post in London (St. Mark’s Battersea Rise). I hasten to add at this point if you had told me a year beforehand that I’d end up in London I would’ve run a mile, I had no desire to move to London and be in the city, but within a few weeks of being in London I’d grown to love it and had a fantastic year, so much so that I decided to stay a further 6 years.

Following my apprenticeship I taught maths for 3 years, during which time I went through my Church of England discernment process. I then returned to the staff of St Mark’s whilst I studied theology at St. Mellitus, doing a mixed mode of training.

Jude and I are passionate about good relationships, getting to know people well, especially over good food, but more than that we love seeing people go deeper with God. We hope to help people grow intimate relationships with Jesus, to know him and love him more through the reading of scripture and in-depth prayer.

We have loved our first few months at Christ Church and feel so welcomed into the Church family, we are excited by the energy and desire to grow in knowledge of God and also the will to encounter the Holy Spirit. We hope to be doing that in our lives but also to help and enable others in that too.

Do introduce yourself to Marcus at our next Synod meeting in November!

Finally, while you’re here on the website, check out the new pages connected with the different Task Groups connected with our mission (see the menu option “Mission” at the top). We’re keen to make sure that across the Deanery, we make best use of one another’s expertise, experience and energy so that we can minister most effectively to our villages and towns. Right now, each of the pages is really only a holding page waiting for information to be shared and initiatives to be enacted but in time, they will become repositories of helpful material for us all.

What we really need right now are volunteers from within the parishes (not only Synod members) to get involved and so shape the mission of the Deanery. Each of the pages contains an online form through which anyone can sign up to help in the different areas. The time commitment won’t be onerous. Please pray about your own involvement and share the site with others in your parishes who could make a difference.

Thank you,

Mark Dunstan
Rural Dean

Image of Donegal by Hari Mohan from Pixabay