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What are you doing here?

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 30 August 2015

“Why do you wear your stole across like a sash?” is a question I’ve been asked since arriving at St Martin’s.

One answer is that I was ordained as deacon in the Church of England on 4 July. What’s a deacon? When people see my dog collar, they assume that I’m a priest. As a deacon I’m called to be a servant within the Church and in the wider community.

I’m serving a curacy at St Martin’s, which means that I’m still in training. This represents a shift in role. Imagine someone who’s been running courses to help car drivers to be aware of their speed and how to avoid accidents. Then that person takes up driving themselves: they wear an L-plate on their car, and a more experienced driver accompanies them. That’s me, for my three years here.

I’ve been equipping church ministers for 20 years; but now I’ve begun ordained ministry myself. As with much learning later in life, the change is not entirely straightforward. It’s complicated by being half-time at St Martin’s, while being part self-employed. But an advantage of being here is having four experienced priests to learn from, as well as a delightfully welcoming congregation.

The stole is worn across the body as a sign of the towel that Jesus used when washing the disciples’ feet. As a deacon I can assist a priest, but not preside at the Eucharist. (If all goes well, that will change next summer, when I’ll hope to be ordained priest myself.)
So what am I doing? I’m here to worship God, to pray and to serve the church. Initially my focus is building relationships and getting to know St Martin’s ministry. So when we meet, I look forward to finding out some of what you are doing here.

Alastair McKay