Deacons ordained to help Bishop of Stepney run his east London churches
PUBLISHED: 14:02 14 July 2015 | UPDATED: 14:02 14 July 2015
A mother-of-three and a hospital nurse are among five men and women joining East London’s Anglican clergy after being ordained as deacons at St Paul’s Cathedral by the Bishop of London.
The five join the Bishop of Stepney’s team in churches in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington as deacons.
Heather Atkinson, who joins St Michael & All Angels, London Fields, is married to the vicar of St Peter’s Bethnal Green, The Rev Adam Atkinson.
St Peter’s was a declining church which had a diminishing congregation of just 20 when the couple and their three children arrived in 2010.
The church now runs three congregations with 150 adults and children and several social projects including a pre-employment training course for disadvantaged youngsters to improve ‘employability’ skills.
Heather has also set up discipleship groups at St Peter’s for children and seniors and has been working as a school chaplain.
She was an English and Drama teacher in south London for 15 years before taking up the cloth.
Unesu Chindabata, who joins Christ Church on the Isle of Dogs, was a nurse in Homerton Hospital for 17 years, the last nine as a district nurse, when she took a BA in Theology and was later accepted for ordination training.
Billy O’Reilly joins St Mary & Holy Trinity in Bow, Steve Gayle joins St John of Jerusalem in South Hackney and Elizabeth Clutterbuck joins Christ Church at Highbury.
The Bishop of Stepney, The Rt Rev Adrian Newman, said: “It’s great ordaining people who know and love this part of London. They’ll find it a wonderful place for the foundations of their future ministry.”
Being a deacon is a step on the path towards priesthood and follows two to three years of training. The new deacons undertake public worship, teaching and pastoral work. They can normally be ordained to the priesthood after a year.