A tree with apple blossoms A tree with apple blossoms

God always with us on our journey

Gillian Parnell

All Christians and those called to marriage hopefully know the joy of giving and receiving love. For 7-8 years, I have felt called to make a vow of celibacy. I explored joining The Community of The Holy Name in Derby, but due to my health issues, they were concerned that I would not fully be able to be an active member of the Community.

So I thought that was it, but God, as he does, brought our current vicar and his wife to my Parish Church where I am a Recognised Lay Minister. Following a conversation with his wife Gill, with whom I discussed my desire to take a vow of celibacy, she kindly explored the possibilities, and I was delighted to hear that this would be possible.  After a period of discernment involving meeting Rev. Jackie Johnson, the Diocesan Ministry Development Adviser, and our Archdeacon the Ven. David Picken, I was given the go-ahead to take a life vow of celibacy. 

Gillian taking her vows

On the 3rd January 2015 at 11am at St Mary Magdalene Church Sutton in Ashfield, I took my life vow. Bishop Richard Inwood presided assisted by the Archdeacon and Rev David James.  Margaret Gale, a member of the Single Consecrated Life network, kindly came along to present me to Bishop Richard on this very special occasion.

Friends Gill James, Chris Heseltine-James and Lucy Heseltine-James contributed by doing readings and intercessions. The ring I chose to wear as a symbol of my vow has a small single stone, which represents the oneness I feel between God and myself. I also chose a cross with a ring entwined around the cross, as I feel the Spirit is entwined around and within me.

God has presented many surprising paths on my life's journey, and I'm sure he always will. I use David O’Malley’s, 'Prayers to Start my Day' in a morning as an alternative to the 'Common Worship' morning prayer said in my Church. I feel throughout this period of prayer and contemplation, God prepares me for the day ahead, and of late, there have been some very diverse paths ahead of me, but I know and wholeheartedly  believe this is God's will for me, and all will be revealed in his time.                                                                                         

 In life we often find ourselves on wilderness journeys, but they mostly bring us strength and wisdom for the future. God is always with us in all of our journey throughout our lives. He has certainly been with me throughout my journey, and brought into my life those who could help and support me in my call towards taking my life vow of celibacy.  I offer my thanks to my friend Gill James and to Fr David James for their help and support on this journey: to Rev Jackie Johnson and The Archdeacon Ven. David Picken as they helped me discern my call to the Single Consecrated Life and to taking my life vow.

Following the service, we all went to the 281 Mansfield for a three course lunch, as a way of thanking all those who have supported me. There were 22 of us in total.  It was a small, intimate celebration with those who have played a major part in my life's journey.