On the afternoon of Saturday 19 September 2020, our curate Andy Storch was ordained priest in a service at Reading Minster led by Bishop Olivia. The service had been postponed from June, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and restrictions were in place at the service – social distancing, face coverings, and copious amounts of gel!

Nevertheless it was an intimate and moving ceremony as three deacons (Andy, Amy Cavender and Julie Howell) were presented to Bishop Olivia, and declared their intentions to pray, lead God’s people, proclaim the gospel and minister the sacraments, and fashion their lives according to the way of Christ – all by the help of God. Bishop Olivia laid (sanitised) hands on each candidate, anointed them (via cotton buds) with the oil of chrism, and prayed the ordination prayer – a prayer that asks for grace and power to proclaim the gospel and minister the sacraments, work for reconciliation, proclaim God’s blessing and absolve in Christ’s name those who turn to him in faith. Each were presented with a Bible as a sign of their God-given authority to do these things, and after sharing in communion, were led out into the sunshine to begin their priestly ministries in the world.

On Sunday Andy presided at the 4.00pm communion service at St Peter’s, in a church as full as current social-distancing regulations allow. The congregation included people from St John’s, where Andy has served his year as deacon, St Peter’s, and St Margaret’s where Andy will now have pastoral oversight, and friends from his sending church. He led the service prayerfully and with warmth, and coped admirably with all the extra procedures required by the current regulations. We look forward to his continuing ministry among us in the years ahead.

During the service we also bade a fond farewell to Rev Judith Ryder as she and her family move on from our parish, where she has served as curate for four years. Mike Smith thanked Judith for her ministry among us – mentioning her input at St Peter’s, her oversight of St Margaret’s, her key role in the creation of our youth group, and the input of her entire family to the life of St Peter’s, not least the choir! Judith was presented with a beautiful painting of St Margaret’s, a wooden duck (!), a year’s family ticket to Blenheim Palace, a plant, flowers, and a cheque from which she intends to purchase a new alb and a set of stoles.

We give thanks to God for the people he calls to serve alongside us in this parish, and pray God’s richest blessings on them and their families for the next chapter of their ministries.