For much of her life, Michelle Taylor was told you can’t do that. At the Pentecostal Church in Birmingham where she worshipped from an early age she was allowed to serve, allowed to preach but at that time, not allowed to be ordained.
On 1 July she is to be ordained Deacon in Wells Cathedral alongside eight of her peers and is to serve her curacy in Trendlewood. Here Michelle shares her story.
“I have carried my calling with me since I was 15 but as a young girl I was confused. Why would God be calling me to the priesthood knowing that I was a girl and that it couldn’t happen?” says Michelle.
Rather than mull on it, Michelle rolled up her sleeves and worked around it, ministering in ways that were open to her. She ministered in schools, setting up a drama company to help people encounter Jesus through that medium, preached and later trained as a drama teacher at University.
When ordination of women was introduced, she had just had four babies in five years so again waited.
“I waited and then God opened the door,” she says. “With my children all now 15 and older, I don’t feel divided in any way. The time is definitely now.”
“I feel like I’ve been a priest all my life, God has always used me in this way. Ordination is the church recognising this too and giving me permission to serve in a wider context and the wider community.”
Michelle is to serve her curacy at Trendlewood, originally a church plant from Nailsea Holy Trinity but now running as a fully independent church.
“That threw me a little bit”, says Michelle “I am a natural pioneer and much of my ministry has been with church planting. I was convinced I would be placed in an anglo-catholic church to learn from a different tradition then return to my roots and who I am afterwards.
“After all this waiting, that is God saying to me, ‘Get on with it, you are no spring chicken, you can’t tread water anymore’.
“God has been really kind to us as a family. And family and friends are so important to me. I love dancing and music, film and theatre – anything that brings lots of people together. Ours is an open house so we always friends dropping in and lots of people round the table.”
“I feel like my personal calling is to help people find their own intimacy with Christ. I want people to hear my story and think, maybe I can do it. I’m being ordained quite late in life – I am finally following my calling and so want to say, ‘you can too’.”
“Stories in the Bible where people are told, you can’t do that, like with Moses and David, have a strong resonance with me. Then God says, ‘yes you can’ and so you can.”