GP, bookseller and call centre worker among newest Lancashire clergy

There are eight deacons and 11 priests
There are eight deacons and 11 priests
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A GP, a bookseller and a call centre worker were among the latest cohort of new priests and deacons to be ordained by the Church of England in Lancashire.

The group of 19 new Deacons and Priests – one more than 2017 and the highest number since 2013 – were ordained at Blackburn Cathedral.

Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton

There are eight deacons and 11 priests, many under the age of 40. Twelve of their number are men and seven are women.

The oldest is 68 and the youngest two candidates are 29.

Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, ordained eight of the deacons while Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, ordained eight of the priests.

The final candidate is due to be ordained in September.

Karen Kerschell

Karen Kerschell

Bishop Julian said: “We pray for those to be ordained deacon and priest, that they would exercise a faithful and Christ-honouring ministry and that their obedience to His call may inspire others to listen and discover their vocation, whether lay or ordained.

“God is always asking, whom shall I send? So, it is a humbling moment for me as a Bishop to be able to ordain men and women who have responded to His call to serve His church.”

Bishop Philip said: “Every year we see a new group of men and women of all ages responding to God’s call to become a Priest or Deacon in His church. It is an exciting time for all of them and for their parishes which are scattered across Lancashire.”

Michael Clayton

Claire Cooke

Claire Cooke

Michael Clayton, 55, lives in Preston and is the new deacon of St Cuthbert’s, Fulwood.

He has been married to Anna for 32 years and have they three grown up children Jonny, Mary and Jo.

He is a GP and will continue working as a doctor.

He said: “As assistant curate at St Cuthbert’s I would want to fulfil my role to the best of my ability, to have fun, to stay grounded, and show that Jesus Christ came to save us and take ordinary people like us and transform us by grace. And to keep in mind that we are and always will be a ‘work in progress’.”

Sister Judith Smith

Sister Judith Smith

Michael’s favourite hobby is reading and he gained his pilot’s licence at the age of 17 before he could even drive a car.

Karen Herschell

Karen Herschell, 50, is from Cleveleys and is the new deacon of The United Benefice of Ribchester, Hurst Green and Mitton.

She has been married to Stuart for 20 years and they have an 18-year-old son, Xander.

During a varied career she has been an assistant librarian, a bookseller, a civil servant, and a local government officer.

Her last job before leaving employment to train for ministry, was working for the charity Disability First in Blackpool, where she led a Disability Hate Crime Third Party Reporting Service, supporting and advocating for victims of hate crime.

Jonathon Wei Sing Lee

Jonathon Wei Sing Lee

She said: “My hope is that I will continue to learn, to deepen my personal relationship with Jesus and to be His hands and feet in the parishes where I will be serving; to take the light of Christ with me, to love and minister to all and to make, encourage and equip disciples to discover their gifts and calling to serve God.

Karen enjoys camping, reading, knitting, listening to music, especially folk; and walking in the countryside.

Claire Cooke

Claire Cooke, 37, is from Liverpool and will be the new priest at St Thomas Church, in Lancaster.

She is married to Jim and they have two daughters, Natalie and Lydia.

Previously she has worked as worked as a vocal instructor and church-based youth worker.

She said: “I would love to go to the margins of our society, where the poorest people in our society live, and see Jesus turn their lives into beautiful expressions of His grace, love and mercy.

“I would love to see different people express their worship to God in their own voice, from their local culture and with their own creativity.

“I would also love to see local leaders raised up to lead worshipping communities in places where the church has previously struggled.”

Claire enjoys reading, spending time outdoors walking, camping and building fires.

Sister Judith Smith

Sister Judith Smith (The Order of the Companions of Martha and Mary), 60, from Tunstall, Carnforth, is due to be ordained as a priest in September and will serve in Hornby with Claughton, Whittington with Arkholme and Gressingham.

She lives and work in St Joseph’s House of Prayer in Tunstall and prior to entering the ministry was course director for Called to Serve – Blackburn Diocese Discipleship Course.

She describes her vision for the church as, “To see the church grow, not in terms of numbers but in how we proclaim the gospel, how we accept all no matter their faith, sexuality or gender and to see a great care for our young people and are older folk.”

Sister Judith’s unfulfilled ambition is to go up in a hot air balloon and she enjoys knitting, sewing, beadwork, card making and gardening.

Jonathon Wei Sing Lee

Jonathon Wei Sing Lee, was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and is the new deacon of St Andrew’s, Ashton-on-Ribble.

He is married to Katrina and they have three children Joshua, four, George, three, and one-year-old Abigail.

Previously he has worked in a sports shop, studied physics, worked in a call centre and served in church staff roles. He said: “I hope to learn lots from my training incumbent, to grow in Christ-likeness, and to usefully serve St Andrew’s in love.”

Jonathon was once a Goth and his ambition away from the church is to complete the Great North Run. He enjoys board games, films, rock climbing, reading and ultimate frisbee.