“I whole heartedly believe that God loves diversity” - The Revd Dr Sharon Prentis on vocations
Church has always featured prominently in my life. From an early age I was
taken to Sunday School and learnt Bible verses by heart. John 3:16 was a particular favourite. I recall being struck by the notion that God
loved me. As a teenager, I had a strong sense of social justice, so I decided to explore the Christian response to poverty, inequality and other
issues. After a few questions, I joined a local youth group where I made a
commitment to become a Christian. Following university, I lectured,
carried out research and was
involved in my local community as a school governor and helping to run a local
charity. It was during that time, I experienced a gentle but persistent feeling
that I had to explore the ordained ministry.
Initially I was unsure about this,
however, with encouragement from
others, I put myself forward for consideration and was recommended for
training. While at theological college I continued to work as a university
lecturer and was ordained a priest in 2014. I am currently employed on a
part-time basis, but also serve as a curate.
is a saying that, “life can only be understood backwards, but must be
lived forwards”. As I look back on my own vocation journey I realise that,
like many others, I had the usual questions such as: would I be good enough to
be considered as a priest? Could God really use someone like me? My sense
of being called was not made any clearer because the prevailing images of
Anglican priests did not necessarily reflect me. The reality is that we tend to
gravitate towards the familiar. At that time, as now, there were few visible
role models to affirm my call. Nevertheless, I knew I was a part of a diverse
community - the Church - that was called to be like Christ. What I began
to realise was that this call was not just for some, but for everybody
including me. It was after considering this truth, and being encouraged
by others, that I knew that ministry in the Church of England was something I needed
to explore. Nearly 10 years on from the start of my journey, I am more
convinced that ‘living forwards’ means encouraging others to see that the
Church is also a place for them.
Christian vocation is linked to the visibility of its members. I whole
heartedly believe that God loves diversity.
Creation itself is a wonderful testimony of that. A church that reflects
all people groups is one that purposely seeks to embrace humanity.
me, living as Christ followers means living the life that God has for us all as
individuals and as a community, and that has to involve a visible presence that
makes a difference. This is how Christ builds his church. An effective
Christian witness concerns showing how we love and respect each other’s gifts,
talents and cultures. What better way to show how we are valued by God,
and in turn value each other, than to encourage the participation of black and
ethnic minorities in every area of the Church, including ministry?
The Rev Sharon’s story appears in Everyday People, God’s Gift to the Church of England a publication from the Vocations Strategy Group, a working group of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns and the Ministry Division of the Church of England.
Revd Dr. Sharon Prentis
Assistant Curate, St