A new reverend who has been appointed as Rector at Buxton Parish has told how she hopes to widen the church’s appeal ‘for all ages’ and ‘hear people’s stories’.
Mum-of-two Liz England, 46, has responsibility for six churches in and around the Buxton parish and wants to encourage the community - both church and non-church-going - to speak with her.
Liz - who says she can often be seen ‘wandering around with a dog collar in Converse trainers’ - wants to understand people’s ideas of faith and what shapes their lives’.
She said: “I’ve been here about a month and love the place and the people.
“I’m hoping to listen to their histories and grow the churches and make them interesting for people of all ages. “
A former manager of children’s centres in deprived areas of Birmingham, Liz first ‘heard the calling’ aged 23 - just two years after the Act of Synod allowing women to become priests came into law.
She was advised by the Anglican Church that because she had a one-month-old son at the time ‘it would not be a good idea and I should wait until he has grown’.
Liz shelved the idea until she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer more than ten years later aged 35 - when she effectively ‘made a deal’ with God that if he let her live she would ‘go and do what he wanted (her) to do’.
She was ordained after gaining a theology degree at Birmingham’s Queens Theological College and went on to work as a priest at Lichfield Diocese before being ‘licensed’ as Buxton’s rector in charge last month.
Liz said: “It was still a male-dominated world back then but I know women who are breastfeeding during services now - it’s changed.
“We are getting much better now - I felt pushed away but I think if I had pushed they would have accepted me.”
Liz is Rector-in-Charge of Christ Church, Burbage; Christ Church, King Sterndale; St Anne’s, Buxton; St James, Harpur Hill; St Mary’s, Buxton; and St John’s, Buxton.
She can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01298 77856.
A calling ‘I could not ignore’
The Rev England has told how she first ‘heard God speak’ aged 23, but it was the ‘last thing’ she thought she would do as her mother and grandfather had both been vicars.
Liz’s mother was one of the first women to be ordained in 1994 following the Act of Synod and her grandfather was a priest at Chichester Cathedral, Sussex - which left her certain it would be the ‘last thing’ she would do.
However after eventually being ordained she says it was ‘the best thing (she) could ever do’.
She said: “It’s a 24-hour job but that’s what I like about it - the work is so variable “You never know when you will be called for a pastoral visit or if someone is in hospital .
“I like meeting people - I’m interested in people’s souls and their relationships with God.
“I want to encourage people is they see me to come and say hello and tell me their stories.”