Introducing Vanessa Hadley-Spencer, who is a Pastoral Assistant with the Hatfield ROOT Group
Dear readers, I am a ROOT Group Pastoral Assistant working within the St Etheldreda’s & St Lukes’s Parish this year. I ‘m originally from Hertfordshire so can visit home and family fairly easily. My hometown is Hemel Hempstead and I went to The Cavendish School. I am familiar with Hatfield as I went to the University of Hertfordshire and studied Law from 2011-2014. I commuted so this is my first time living in Hatfield. In between my studies I worked as an Activity Instructor, so I am qualified to run adventurous activities such as abseiling, archery, air-rifles and zip wire to name a few! After graduating I spent some time as a paralegal for BSG solicitors.
You may be thinking what is a ROOT Group? It is a group for young people (under 25) who are exploring God’s call to ministry. A ROOT year provides the opportunity to experience firsthand what ministry is all about. The Hatfield ROOT Group works in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire Chaplaincy and the Bishops Hatfield team. Participants live together in Hatfield and spend half their working week with the chaplaincy and the other half with a local church.
In the chaplaincy we aim to make God’s presence known on campus. We are there to support all students in their spiritual life and provide a space for them to explore faith. We lead services and host events throughout the week to support students in their university journey.
In the parish I will be involved with worship and many different aspects of parish life. I look forward to meeting some of you over the course of this year. From my last year as a ROOT in the parish of St Johns in South Hatfield, I have learnt that parish life varies from day to day. One moment you can be taking a school assembly and the next you could be assisting at a funeral. The variety is what makes ministry so challenging . Having the opportunity to walk alongside people in their sorrow and in their joy is a privilege. I am thrilled to be continuing my vocation journey here with you.
So how did I end up as a ROOT? I was a member of the choir in my home parish of St Johns Boxmoor and was involved with the Parochial Church Council (PCC) Serving Team and Worship Committee. It was after hearing sermons on vocation that I first realised God might be calling me to ministry. I began exploring the idea and looked at placements in the church. I applied to join the Hatfield ROOT Group in June 2015 and began working at St Johns last September. I enjoyed myself so much that I decided to apply for another year.
So what happens next after a ROOT year? I have enjoyed being a ROOT and I feel that ministry is right for me. I have begun the discernment process for selection for ordained ministry and hope to go for selection before the end of this ROOT year. The discernment process is what all ordained people in the Church of England have to go through in order to become a priest. This process begins by having a conversation with your vicar, who then passes you over to a vocations adviser. Next follows a series of meetings to ascertain suitability for training to become a priest, which culminates in a three day selection conference, after which you will be advised if you have been accepted for training. Once your training is completed you are ordained into a curacy as a deacon and usually one year later you are ordained priest. This can all seem very rigorous. It’s not easy to become a vicar! How ever ordained ministry is a demanding role and it is important that candidates are suitable.
Have you ever thought about ministry? Do you think God could be calling you? Don’t be put off by what can seem like a lengthy and scary process. The process is all part of an ongoing journey with God and you are supported every step of the way.
God calls each and everyone of us to something. God has a plan for us all, take time to pray, reflect and listen closely to what God is asking of you. It doesn’t matter what age you are God has something in mind for you, are there things in church you would like to be more involved in? Is there something you could do in the community? There are so many ways to serve God and his work is there for all of us to do.
Think and pray – what is God calling you to do? Vanessa