Jane Darlington from Bissoe is among the seven people being licensed as a Reader at the 2017 Annual Readers’ Service at Truro Cathedral.
Jane, 50, says she was a Christian before she was even born, having come from a Christian family who all worshipped at St John’s in Stanmore, Greater London. Jane only left the church three years ago when she married and moved to Cornwall.
Her personal relationship with God started aged 11 when on cross country runs at school she started talking to God. “I wasn’t happy at school. I was dyslexic but didn’t know that at the time and I had low self-esteem. Who was there to talk to and tell everything to, but God?”
Jane says she always knew there was something that God wanted her to do but she didn’t know what that was. At 19 she undertook an ecumenical Lent course.
“There were Baptists, Roman Catholics, Brethren. We were all reading from our own Bibles so you heard each bit just slightly differently. It taught me that you could interpret God’s will in many ways and it made me realise that it doesn’t matter what background you have, what church you go to, we are all doing His will.”
Jane went on and did a leader’s course for Alpha before going on to help run the youth alpha course and then Youth Growing Leaders Course. “It was eventually suggested that I took the Chelmsford Course in Christian Studies. Throughout those courses and in my journals I would doodle the same picture. It was seeds on the earth and a watering can. I felt it was God saying you need to come and look after my seeds for me.”
Jane started her lay ministry training in London at St Mellitus. During her first year Jane’s parents became unwell.
“My Mum developed vascular dementia and my Dad had Alzheimer’s. Then I met this lovely man, Alex, who lived in Cornwall. I was in London when he asked me to marry him. Previously I had stopped working to care for my mother while planning on finishing my course and seeing Alex during term breaks. However, my sister stepped in and said that it was just ridiculous. She said I’d done my bit and she would take over the care of our parents so I could go and get married and be with my husband. So I did and I was able to transfer courses.”
Jane says the Readers’ training has been excellent. “I have gained theological depth and grown in confidence. As all of us taking the course are so different, we’ve learned from each other.”
For her third year placement, Jane asked to work at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. “I wanted to obtain experience that would be useful for parish life. I was encouraged to stay on, so now I go weekly as a chaplaincy visitor. It’s such a privilege. That’s what being a Reader is.”
Since moving to Cornwall three years ago, Jane has worked at Shortlanesend School. “I’m working part time so I have time to study and can get home to my parents if needed. Everything has really fallen into place. God knows what He is doing. I do believe you have to let go and leave it to Him sometimes. It all works out if you stop worrying. It’s getting away from the model of what you think it should be. There is no how it should be. It’s in His time, not ours. You just need to be a Christian in the place you are.”
On October 14, Jane will be licensed to the Eight Saints Cluster. “St John & St Petroc is my home. My church have been very welcoming and friendly and I love it here.”
Readers are lay people in the Church of England, from all walks of life, who are called by God, and theologically trained and licensed by the Church to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work.
Jim Seth, Chaplain to Readers in the diocese, said: “Ministering to anyone with whom they come into contact, preaching the gospel and spreading the Good News – what could be more important than that? We help others explore the Gospel message, encourage people to make connections between the church and daily living, and share in the Church’s work of caring for people in Christ’s name.”
Revd Canon Jane Kneebone, Director of Reader Training, said: “Jane has a truly loving heart, and models the love of Jesus in everything she does. She is a wonderfully warm and compassionate person, and it has been a privilege to share her journey to licensed ministry.”
The Annual Reader Service takes place at Truro Cathedral on October 14 at 11am. All are welcome to attend.