Newly Ordained Deacons And Priests In The Diocese Of Southwark

By Sophia Jones, Director of Communications, The Diocese of Southwark

The Diocese of Southwark has seen a 30% increase (in the year to July 2021) in candidates from UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) backgrounds being recommended for ordination training. This equates to approximately five out of a total of 17 candidates – the highest percentage in recent years. In 2016 the number was 25%. And four out of those five candidates have also been recommended for leadership positions – incumbent status – meaning their potential to lead a parish has been recognised. 

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, said: “This is a very encouraging development, and reflects the intentionality and hard work of the Vocations Team to this good purpose over ten years. We all have a part to play in encouraging UKME candidates to be open to God’s call and explore vocational discernment. We must not lose sight of the need for our leadership in the Church of England, and this Diocese, in particular, to reflect the full diversity of our parish communities of faith.”

“One of my episcopal priorities as Bishop of Woolwich is to celebrate our racial diversity as a gift of God because God created us all in His image according to the creation narratives in the book of Genesis. And Jesus Christ died for the entire human race and told His disciples to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. So the need for the Church to reflect the diversity of God’s family is both a creation and gospel imperative for us. That’s why the Southwark Diocese, in its Anti-Racism Charter, spells out the way forward and it is evidenced today in increased UKME vocations,” said the Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Rev Dr. Karowei Dorgu. 

In March, the Diocese’s Synod unanimously approved the Diocese’s, Anti-Racism Charter. Archdeacon of Croydon, the Venerable Dr. Rosemarie Mallett, Diocesan Lead on Racial Justice, said: “The Diocese of Southwark has committed itself to an anti-racism strategy across all aspects of our diocesan life together. A key part of the Southwark vision is the identifying and training of future church leaders – lay and ordained – so the leadership better reflects the people and parishes we serve. Therefore, it is good news to learn that 30% of all the candidates, who have been recommended for ordination training beginning in autumn 2021, come from a UKME background.”

Diocesan Director of Ordinands, the Rev Canon Leanne Roberts, said: “We are delighted that our dedicated, intentional work over the past nine years or so has visibly borne fruit, and our current numbers show the Diocese’s commitment to ensuring that those who go forward for ordained ministry are truly representative of the people we serve here in South London and East Surrey. Under Bishop Christopher’s leadership, many people have given much energy and time to encourage vocations from the UKME community, not least the Rev Canon Roxanne Eversley in being our UKME Vocations Champion, and our team of Vocations Advisers, Directors of Ordinands, and Examining Chaplains. There is still much work to be done, and we look forward to creating new initiatives which best serve parishes and chaplaincies in the Diocese of Southwark.”

The Diocese serves 2.8 million people in the 16 local authorities of South London and East Surrey, through 356 places of worship – a Church of England presence in every community – and 106 church schools educating 37,000 young people. It embraces many diverse communities and a large number of major institutions, many with global significance.

Ordinations in the Anglican Church take place at Petertide, the nearest Sunday to St Peter’s Day on 29 June, and on Michaelmas, around 29 September. 

In June, nine UKME Deacons and Priests from all walks of life were ordained in the Diocese. 

Who are they?

Deacons 

People are ordained first as deacons and a year later as priests.

Henry Akingbemisilu, Thamesmead Team Ministry, is from Nigeria and studied in the UK. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, with a major in Statistics, and a Master’s degree in Telecommunications & Computer Network Engineering. Henry has worked in software developments, data engineering, data science and analytics, data centre migrations, infrastructure programmes, hardware, and network implementations, and desktop upgrades. He has three children. He enjoys travelling, playing the tenor saxophone, and reading the latest in artificial intelligence. 

“My long-term goal is to be a part of the people God will use to transform unjust structures of our society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.”

Gemma Birt, St John the Evangelist, East Dulwich, was born in London and grew up in Singapore. She is half-German and half-Singaporean and bilingual in German and English. Gemma studied law at university and worked as a solicitor. More recently she was an Assistant School Chaplain. She is married with four children and a dog. In her free time Gemma enjoys travelling, running (slowly!), cooking (by instinct and not by recipe), and drinking lots of tea.

Capt Nicholas Lebey, Hook and Surbiton Team Ministry, Tolworth, is from Ghana, and moved to the UK 14 years ago as a missionary, serving in Northern Ireland. He trained with the Church Army in Sheffield, and was commissioned as a Pioneer Evangelist, working with young people in Bradford and South East London. Nicholas is married and has three children. A Chelsea FC fan, he enjoys playing and watching football. “I am passionate about mission and evangelism. I have always said to God: “If You are going to send me to a parish, send me to a place that is outward-looking in mission and enriching people in the community.” 

Priests

Esther-Jael Olabisi (Bisi) Akano-Adesoye, Thamesmead Team Ministry, was born and brought up in Nigeria. She came to the UK to study, and gained a degree in Business and Finance and a Postgraduate degree in Education. She has worked within the Benefit Overpayment sections of two local authorities. She enjoys walking, travelling, cooking, and entertaining friends.

Adelaide Davies, United Benefice of Charlton, is from Ghana. She came to England in her early thirties, gaining a BSc in Health and Social Care. Her career is specialised in dementia and end-of-life care. Adelaide enjoys singing, cooking, photography, birdwatching and travelling. She set up a community interest project supporting young people and young single mothers to help bring about change for this marginalised segment of society.

Lotwina Farodoye (Oxted Team Ministry) graduated from Cranfield University. For 25 years she has worked in food marketing, business management consultancy, and people development. Lotwina has contributed to Diocesan strategy as a member of Southwark’s Diocesan Council of Trustees, Diocesan Synod, and as Vice-chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance. She has a MA in Christian Leadership and is married with two teenage children. She enjoys travelling and all things ‘foodie’. “Being ordained is very special, and I am so humbled that God has called me to this vocation. My hopes for the future are that enabled by the Holy Spirit, 

I am able to serve God well, and to pursue all that He has called me to in a way that blesses people and gives Him the glory.”  

Delorine Green, St Peter, Walworth, is from South East London. She trained and worked as a nursery nurse and became a lecturer in a South London further education college, specialising in post-compulsory education and training. Delorine spent 17 years working in this field, and became Head of Curriculum for Childcare and Health and Social Care. Delorine has taken part in two Race for Life events for Cancer Research. In church, she has been a youth leader, safeguarding officer, and churchwarden.

Ian Luke-Macauley, St Barnabas, Clapham Common, has BA and MA degrees. As a social worker, he held senior management positions, working with children and families in the statutory sector for over 25 years. Ian has been a lay reader for the same duration. He tries to stay active, having completed two London marathons. His favourite sport is cricket, and he plays as often as time permits. Ian also loves photography.

Shavaun Shodeinde, St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common was born in South London and has a degree in Sports Therapy. She has competed internationally in athletics. She loves to travel and to try food fusions. Shavaun enjoys baking, particularly cheesecakes, reading fiction, art, interior design, acoustic music, vintage clothing, and a good BBC drama. “God calls diverse people to lead, and in responding to the call, through much prayerful discernment, it feels right for my walk in life, to take steps to serve in the name of Christ. I’ve had massive challenges, I’ve had to fight all the way on this journey, so getting to the day was a true symbol for the vocation that God gave me. I had made it through the prayers and love of all those that support this mission of God,” she said. Her hopes for the future are “for others that come behind me, that their calling is valued, as much as others who look different from me. The value of that calling is to bring people to acknowledge the fullness of who God is calling them to be.”

If you would like to explore your vocation into the priesthood or lay ministry, find out more here.

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