Introducing our new Vicar, Amanda

I am so looking forward to meeting and getting to know you all as we emerge from this difficult time. I pray that as we worship, listen to God, and grow in faith that He will show us how we can together bless our community and demonstrate Christ’s love in word and action.

For those of you who like the full story, don’t hold your breath, but I hope the following gives you an insight into my family and me.

Growing up
I became a Christian when I was 14 through a youth fellowship in Cheadle, Cheshire. I learned to read the Bible and got involved in lots of outreach in local schools and we prayed and campaigned for imprisoned Russian Christians. At University I was inspired by the singing and passion of Keith Green and a friend who had worked for Interserve in Pakistan; I felt called to mission overseas. I met my future husband here and we both got involved in short term missions and committed to ‘going’ after six years of marriage. I went to a more charismatic C of E church and got involved with Navigators.

Early married life
My husband and I worked in Marketing and HR respectively for six years in Cheshire and I gained my professional qualifications. We ran home groups, a discipleship summer school, managed a Christian band and a social/low key evangelistic group for 20s and 30s. We were learning how to minister together and how to be married. I started to develop a more contemplative prayer life in reaction to a very busy Marketing role.

Nine years in Asia, Nepal then Thailand
In 1995 we went to Nepal with Interserve two terms of three years with a year out (1998) to go to All Nations Christian college. I worked a little initially while my two girls were small and gradually increased the time and took on a half time role in Marketing. I loved the Nepali folk we lived and worked with and learned a lot about working cross culturally with not just Nepalis but ex-pats too. I was involved with Bible studies for women and ran a small ex-pat Sunday school in my house. I felt very at home in Nepal and picked up the language and felt that God had prepared me for this by giving me a Nepali nanny when I was small growing up in India.

In 2001 we moved to Thailand to work with World Vision. I had my third child and decided to do a master’s in marketing while working and teaching in Marketing. A key verse for me at that time from Philippians 4 was ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.’ This helped me come to terms with moving from Nepal to Thailand which were very different. I ran a Mums and Tots group here and went to the local Anglican church’s women’s Bible study group. I had a passion to reach out to lonely ex-pat women, often struggling with young babies in cross cultural situations. I organised the service for a Buddhist friend’s toddler who died in a swimming accident and this felt an important ministry opportunity. Richard and I both set up and led a small group for ex-pats and saw many grow and one person come to faith.

Returning to the UK
In 2004 we returned to the UK to get my oldest daughter prepared for senior school and Richard became HR director at World Vision UK. For the next ten years we were very busy bringing up three children, working and worshipping in a local LEP. I struggled with three children and a husband who travelled a lot overseas and decided to go part time. I learned a lot at this time about trust and giving up control to the Lord. My prayer life deepened and I was blessed with strong Christian friends. I got involved with small groups, Alpha and leadership.

A Call to the Church of England
As my youngest started to get older, I started to feel a growing sense of calling to do something different for the next phase of my life. As I prayed into this with good friends, I sensed that God wanted to use me to grow his church in the UK. Over three or four years I explored a call to ordination in the C of E, which meant changing churches to work with the local C of E church which was starting to grow strongly under the ministry of a new vicar who had been trained at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. I loved reaching out to those outside the church through Alpha, a Mums and Tots group, Messy church. After passing my BAP, I decided to leave World Vision and go and work part time for the church while training part time for ordination at Wycliffe Hall. This was a fabulous opportunity to learn and put into practice what I was learning at college. At the same time, Richard established his business as an Executive Coach.

After ordination, in June 2018, we moved back up North to be closer to my parents. My father had been ill with cancer and was caring for my mother with dementia (she died a year and a half into my curacy). I was offered a curacy in Ashbourne, Derby diocese, working with a large mother church and five rural village churches. This was my first experience of a more formal, liturgical church and was challenging at times. However, I had huge opportunities to learn on the job working in schools, taking all the occasional offices on a regular basis, becoming part of the leadership of our Mums and Tots group and our fresh expression, Breakfast church. I also continued to be fully involved ecumenically in prayer and evangelism, leading a prayer team praying into a fresh expression on a new estate, praying for our town during lockdown as part of 24/7 and leading ‘Thy kingdom come’, a series of three drive in Carol Services and Alpha via Zoom.

God preparing me for ministry in Accrington
My curacy has built on so many of my areas of interest, which I see reflected in this great new opportunity in Accrington: the gospel in society, mums and children, outreach and prayer ecumenically, those on the margins and on making the gospel relevant in a new context. I also feel so blessed to have a good friends from Wycliffe days locally and my husband’s sister and brother-in-law who live in neighbouring Ramsbottom.

I am so pleased to be able to share with you in the ministry in Baxenden and Accrington!

Photo taken last weekend In Northamptonshire to celebrate my new role and my oldest daughter’s birthday. From left to right, Will, Imogen’s husband, Me, Imogen, our oldest, Richard, Zach, our youngest, Lizzie, our middle one, and Joe, Lizzie’s future husband.