As with all these things, sound-bites don’t capture nuance, but it was a fun interview to do and the picture is quite cool.
Why did you become a priest?
I had a growing sense of God calling me into full-time ministry. Ordination is a sense of being called out to represent God in a special way and represent what Christians should be.
Where did you train?
I studied for three years at the theological college, Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, which I call the vicar factory. Then I went to Ware in Hertfordshire for five and a half years, where I worked as a curate and acting vicar.
For three years, I was in a training role, learning how to baptise babies, marry people, bury people, hold services and preach. We moved to Canterbury when the job came to an end.
My wife grew up in Canterbury and we have family here.
What do you miss most about full-time ministry?
Strangely enough, I most miss funerals. It’s such an enormous privilege to come across people at their moment of need to help them celebrate someone’s life and let go.
You make mistakes. I once scattered someone’s ashes in a churchyard, which is the one place you can’t scatter ashes because it’s consecrated land. I got a slapped wrist for that.
Any memorable services?
I once married a couple, and the bride was a massive Elvis fan. So I dropped Elvis references and song titles in throughout the service. They loved it.
I also did the funeral of the tour manager of Pink Floyd. The church was packed with people from the music industry and famous people, including David Gilmour. Afterwards, the family sent me a crate of scotch as a thank you.
I’ve also done funerals where it’s just been me and the undertaker at the graveside, which is very sad. Everyone’s funeral is important.
It must be tough at times.
It has its challenges. Children’s funerals are hard. I did the funeral of a little boy who died in a road accident, whose brother had died of an illness three months before. Then just after my son was born, I had to do the funeral of a four-year-old girl who died of leukaemia. At first, I didn’t know if I could do it. But the hardest funerals are always the most rewarding, as they’re the ones you can really help with.
You’ve experienced your own tragedy?
Yes, our second son was stillborn. But it means we’ve been able to come alongside people who have lost children. It gives us validity to speak to people about the journey through the pain.
God is in charge, and I know he has something good planned for us. Our son dying was a bad thing, but was used as a good thing by God.
I wouldn’t give up anything of my life over the last 20 years.
You can read the rest over at This is Kent.