We are about to say a fond farewell to Christian Saguyan, who is leaving his time as a Sheppard Scholar at St Martin’s to become an ordinand at Ripon College Cuddesdon. Christian will be followed as Sheppard Scholar with the congregation by Ben Sheridan, who has been the Sheppard Scholar with HeartEdge for the past 18 months. Rose Lyddon joins us on 1 September as the new Sheppard Scholar with HeartEdge, when we will also be joined by Anna-Rose Harris, who has a new part-time Sheppard Scholar role covering Communications, Youth and Children’s Work.

While that might sound complicated and while there are certainly lots of comings and goings, this is just what we hoped to see as we developed the existing Pastoral Assistant scheme into the Sheppard Scholar programme, alongside the development of HeartEdge.

The Sheppard Scholars programme aims to shape participants in the habits, skills and disciplines of pastoral ministry and mission, but also to encourage an aptitude and appetite for translating these interests into compassionate, cultural and commercial opportunities when the need and opportunity arises. In this way we hope to raise a generation of lay and ordained leaders for the church to come.

That aim is being achieved as Sheppard Scholars like Christian begin ordination training, while others who trained earlier begin looking for curacies. We have already experienced a very tangible benefit from providing Pastoral Assistant/Sheppard Scholar opportunities with Cath Duce, the first Pastoral Assistant at St Martin’s, returning here to become Assistant Vicar for Partnership Development. That role involves supporting the current Sheppard Scholars, whether based at St Martin’s or at other HeartEdge churches. We are increasingly seeing the first fruit of the new generation of lay and ordained leaders for which we have planned and prayed.

As we thank Christian for all he has brought to St Martin’s and welcome Rose and Anna-Rose, let us give thanks to God for all our Sheppard Scholars and for the new generation of church leaders that God is raising up through this initiative.

Revd Jonathan Evens