A year as a ministry trainee in Manchester

Jun 28, 2021

written by Rhea Jackson

Rhea is a Ministry Trainee at St Clement’s in Manchester. We gave her a grant towards her year and here she shares some thoughts on how her year has gone.

 

 At the start of Jesus’ ministry, we see him perform an incredible miracle as recorded for us in Luke 5. An exhausted Peter, James, and John return from a fruitless night of fishing, only to be told by Jesus to cast their net once more. Reluctantly, they follow his instruction but the story ends up in them being rewarded with an incredible catch of fish! A shameful Peter does the only thing he can think of in the presence of a miracle worker and falls at Jesus’ feet. He cries out: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man!”. Jesus looks at him with love and replies: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 

This passage seems relevant as I come to write this brief message.

Jesus calls his disciples out of ordinary life to do extraordinary works for his glory.

This same call is relevant to us as Christians living in 2021, although it doesn’t look the same for every believer! We wanted to take the time to explain our particular calling, and chat a little bit about what God has been doing in our lives over the last year. 

In case you weren’t sure, I’m Rhea – hello! I live in Manchester with my husband Alex, and like a lot students I approached the end of university years not really sure what to do next. I studied geography and although I enjoyed elements of the course, I was keen to do something different long-term. Alex had committed early on in 2020 to a Ministry Traineeship at our church, beginning that September. I’d always wondered about doing the same myself but was never really sure if it was a viable option, or whether it would be something I would enjoy. After thinking and praying about what to do next, I felt a real desire to work at my church and so committed to a Ministry Trainee year myself. 

With the two of us fresh out of university and to be married just a couple of weeks before we started working, we knew that in order to serve God in this way we would need some sort of financial support to get us through. We approached family and friends who we thought might like to support us, and also applied separately to several different Christian funding organisations who support those doing volunteering years like ourselves. I applied for some funding from the Tim Peters fund and was so grateful to receive support from the organisation. I’d love to tell you a little bit more about the things I’ve learnt over the last year, and how the funding has helped us. 

Our church – St Clement’s – is located in east Manchester in what is one of the most deprived areas of the UK. It’s a diverse, joyful and faithful congregation, in which myself and Alex were part of a small group of loyal students during our university years. If I was to describe being a Ministry Trainee at St Clement’s, I’d probably say ‘doing a lot of everything’! It’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to both get a taste for ministry life, and it has also given us the chance to be involved in things we maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve really enjoyed joining our youth group team and prepping teaching material for our young people, as well as supporting the church administrator with office-based and digital tasks. One of my favourite things that I’ve done was decorating the church building for our Christmas services. It’s little things like this that I’m so grateful to have had proper time to pour into, and which have helped me to understand how a church runs, as well as all the many jobs which happen behind the scenes to keep things flowing smoothly! 

As part of my ministry traineeship, I’ve also been able to take part in the North-West Gospel Partnership’s Ministry Training Course. This a course which runs for the whole year, offering rich and insightful theological training, along with the opportunity to plan and deliver short Bible talks using expository tools. Although the course has been mostly on Zoom throughout lockdown, I’m grateful for the tools and skills I’ve been equipped with and strongly believe they’ll remain with me in years to come. I have my last talk of the year coming up in a couple of weeks, and it’s safe to say that everyone has improved a lot since September! While many of the course’s students – like myself – do not preach at our own churches, the skills I have gained are invaluable for personal study, reflection, preparing children or youth sessions, and even leading Bible studies. I would recommend this course or similar to any Christian! 

When I applied to join the team at St Clement’s, it was before the pandemic hit. Although the year has looked different to how I first imagined, I really have enjoyed it thoroughly. Alex has committed to a second year of Ministry Trainee, and I’ve recently transitioned out of that role and into the shoes of Office and Digital Communications Coordinator, taking over from the last administrator at St Clement’s. As I’ve began this new role, I’ve felt really grateful for my time as Ministry Trainee as it gave me the opportunity to find my feet in a new team and working environment back in September, and it also meant I discovered a passion for church admin and digital comms.

Without the support of funding organisations like the Tim Peters Training Fund, I’m not sure this is where I’d be!

If you were to ask me for one thing that I’ve learned about God throughout the last year, it would be to trust that God will use you wherever you are placed. I’m so grateful to the Tim Peters Fund for helping to make the last year possible. If you feel called to working for a church and being trained, all I can say is go for it! Jesus doesn’t ask for a list of skills and qualifications when calling his people, he just asks us to follow him, and have faith.

Rhea

 

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