I’m Ross, 23 years old, and I’ve moved to Westminster from York, keeping the tradition of northern Pastoral Assistants!
A key part of my identity is that of writer and storyteller of fairy tales and fantasy fictions, and I believe that this is entwined with my vocation, whatever that may be.
I graduated from a BA in Writing, Directing and Performance in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York in 2011, and have spent the two years living and working in York. I spent six months writing for a games company and a year with the Diocese of York as a receptionist and administrative assistant – a fascinating insight into the amount of work that goes into the Church of England behind the scenes.
Though I was born in Keighley and consider myself a northerner, until I was eight we lived in a village in Cambridgeshire and I have never managed to shed the accent! We moved to Northallerton and five years later we moved again, flying halfway across the world to Nairobi, Kenya.
My dad was working for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) as an avionics engineer, and – to use a horribly over-used cliché – my time there really made me who I am today. It was during our three years there that I discovered my passion for performance and the theatre.
We returned to the Northallerton area when I was sixteen (living in the same village as former Pastoral Assistant Rob’s cousin – small world!) and I studied for my A-levels at Northallerton College.
The curate at my church was instrumental during those two years at involving me with the church life, helping out at church services, the youth group, and at an after-school club at the village primary school.
My move to York for university was where I grounded my faith and it became a personal relationship. I explored the very foundation of Christian faith through the only way I knew how – I wrote a play about it! I began to attend St Lawrence’s church where I was warmly welcomed, challenged, and encouraged to participate in the church’s activities. I helped to staff the Hineni weekends, run by Christians in their twenties for Christians in their twenties to explore vocation in the widest sense of the word.
During my two years in York after I graduated, I became a part of a new Christian collective called Burning Fences, for whom I became the resident storyteller. For the weekly gatherings and weekends away, I have written, told and shared stories. I have transformed the Beatitudes into fairy tales and parts of the Bible in sci-fi short stories. It has been a fascinating way of studying the Bible!
With my somewhat nomadic life thus far, I have seen a wide breadth of churches and Christian communities. And I have seen the church operate from the point of view as a congregant and a diocesan office employee. It seems fitting that now I am experiencing it ‘on the frontline’, working for St Matthew’s.
After five years in York and a burgeoning understanding of vocation, it feels right that I am out of my comfort zone and into new, exciting territory to explore my own sense of vocation. Whilst I have started the ordination process, I am keeping my heart and mind open to God’s spectacular plan.