Among those ordained as a Deacon in July 2015 was Jane Horton, who then took up a position at Truro Cathedral.
Although Jane has joined from Lichfield Diocese, Cornwall is not a completely new frontier for Jane who has long established connections with the county.
“My mum had a home in Penzance for many years. I’ve spent a lot of time in Cornwall and really love it, although I preferred the Red Kites in Oxfordshire to the seagulls of St Ives who dive bombed my fish and chips!”
Jane’s ordination is the next step in a journey that started over 30 years ago. “I was brought up in a Roman Catholic family but in my teens I went away from the church. I went off to the Royal College of Music in London where I had a number of Christian friends and about halfway through my time there I came to personal faith.”
Jane says the feeling of being called to Christian Ministry of some kind came quite early. “I was in my early 20s by then and in a non-denominational church. I went on to spend some time at a Bible School in the United States and took part in various mission trips to Eastern Europe and Mexico and prison ministry in the US. I returned to the UK with a sense that God was calling me back. I ended up in my local Anglican church and felt very much at home there.”
Instead of taking up a musical career, Jane undertook secretarial training and began work as a secretary to the principal of a theological college. “It was while I was there that people began to ask me if I had considered ordained ministry.”
Jane went through the vocations process to become an ordinand. She said: “That was before the days of women priests and if I had continued I would have been in the first group of women who became priests. Instead, I completed two years of the full time training but then I put my own sense of vocation to ordained ministry to one side and married a fellow ordinand and became a vicar’s wife and a mum.”
As well as raising two sons, Sam and Andrew, Jane became a Lay Reader and used her musical talents in the worship setting.
It was following her divorce and during a year and a half living and working as an Alongsider with the Society of Martha and Mary in Sheldon, Devon, that Jane started to think again about full time ministry. “I sensed the vocation spark was re-ignited and then someone there said ‘what about that ordination thing?’. At various stages since my initial training I’d considered it, but the timing just hadn’t been right. But I went and spoke to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands back in Lichfield, began the vocations process again and I was recommended a second time. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to pick it up again.”
Before beginning theological college, (inspired by her experience of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises as a ‘Retreat in Daily Life’ – ask her about it!), Jane did a 10-week training course in spiritual direction and retreat-giving at St Beuno’s in North Wales, one of the UK centres for Ignatian spirituality.
Jane has spent the last two years at Cuddesdon Theological College, just outside Oxford. “I think one of the challenges was going back to college in my 50s particularly as I hadn’t done a degree before. At times it was overwhelming but I also made some amazing friends.”
“Theological college life is very intense and sometimes too busy. There are times when you think ‘Can I do it?’ but as I began to have opportunities to lead worship and take part in a parish placement where I was able to preach, speak and participate in the liturgy and school assemblies, I found it incredibly exhilarating and rewarding.”
Jane will officially begin at the cathedral when she is ordained in July. “It’s not something I expected to do but I’ve always loved cathedral worship. I did a short placement in Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, in the run up to Holy Week this year which involved a lot of behind the scenes stuff and getting to know the volunteers and vergers. I think that was a key experience in terms of thinking that Truro Cathedral could be the right place for me. It can be easy to think of a cathedral as very intimidating and big, but it is still made up of people and I am very much a ‘people-person’.”
Jane is currently getting to know the people at Truro Cathedral. “I’ve been really impressed by how welcoming and inclusive the diocese has been and I’m enjoying meeting the team here. I love working as part of a team and I’m excited about that. There’s just a huge amount I can learn from them and I have a sense of being encouraged that I can also bring something.”