David has been Director of Ordinands (DDO) during a time of significant change in our diocese. He has overseen a massive increase in the number and diversity of our ordination candidates: by age, social and educational background, church tradition and gifts.
Liverpool was one of the first dioceses to sponsor an Ordained Pioneer Minister and we are now known for the way all curates train in a ‘blended economy’ of inherited church and fresh expressions.
Vocations have come strongly up the agenda as the national church looks for new leaders and new models of training.
It's a direction David fully supports “When I started as DDO the only regional option was the Northern Ordination Course, with a regular commute to Manchester or Yorkshire. We were key partners in founding All Saints, our thriving part-time course, and then more recently the St Mellitus NW full-time course. The fact that there are now two excellent options to learn for ministry based at our own cathedral is not only good news for local candidates but is attracting talented people from further afield to train here and then join our diocese.”
It is apt that for someone who has been dedicated to supporting others as they try to discern a call from God and respond to it that David feels strongly that God is calling him to lay down this ministry at this time. “I had several conversations with Bishop Paul about the future direction for vocations and it was clear to me that the role now needed to be full time.”
Year on year the discernment and selection processes for Ordination have become more rigorous and professional, reflecting the standards of HR. David has built a collaborative team of ordained and lay people but nevertheless it is hard to juggle all those processes and deadlines with his two growing parishes. A diocesan and national priority is now to grow vocations something that needs a full-time role. “I am a great believer in times and seasons for things and now it is time for someone new.”
David has brought clear judgement and a direct yet compassionate style which has resulted in wise advice and candidates being well prepared for the rigours of ordained ministry. The rewards are many. “being at the ordinations every year has been a wonderful feeling” David explains “knowing the struggles that many have been on I am always so proud of their achievements. For many candidates, discernment, selection and training are the most arduous processes they have been through. The ordination is God’s ‘yes’ to their willingness to serve him. That’s great to be a part of.
"I am always conscious of the vulnerability of people putting themselves into a process which risks having their hopes and dreams dashed. That can create anger and hurt, not just for the person themselves, so we need to work hard to support people and pray for them at all stages.”
David believes discerning a call is complex matter “it’s more than simply feeling God speaking directly, for most that simply doesn’t happen and even when it does it has to be tested” he says “we can discern calling in the conversations we have with others, in our reading in our prayer life . But often, because it isn’t a direct communication we can miss the calling.
“Many people don’t get to ask the question because they think ministry is not for them. They can’t imagine themselves being a vicar because the picture they have formed about that role. Our challenge is to say what ministry is and how can we creatively support that calling in others.”
It is clear David will miss the DDO role, working with the team he has developed over the years and working alongside those in St James House. But it is also clear he is looking forward to devoting more time and energy to his parishes “Being a parish priest is my primary calling and I will never regret being invited into a community ministry of the Gospel.”
He is excited about the creation of a new Director of Vocations post and the future for vocations. “There has never been a better time to be ordained; this is an amazingly creative diocese and we have great opportunities to express ministry within it”.