The highs and lows of starting over
Many people come to ordination after previous careers and for most, starting over again as the new boy or girl can be a challenge. For Haley Preston it’s been a little different. Haley used to be a minister within the Methodist church and so crossing over and, in many ways, starting over could be even more problematic.
“In some ways it is,” says Haley. “But in so many more it’s so rewarding and I’m so thankful to be doing what I’m doing – I feel alive again!”
I’m so thankful to be doing what I’m doing – I feel alive again!
Waiting, listening and working at All Saints Highertown
Haley is working at All Saints Highertown and loves the caring heart of the church family there. “They are so outward-looking. And it isn’t just a few who get involved in all the work that goes on there, it’s the many.” Haley has recently started a craft group which regularly meets to make things to fundraise for the 10/10 project that the church is undertaking, “But really, it’s about having a coffee, cake, some craft in your hands and enjoying a good chat!”
“…And it isn’t just a few who get involved in all the work that goes on, it’s the many”
Haley plans to start a church service for people living with dementia. All Saints Highertown already hosts Singing for the Brain and so it’s a natural step forward. “There is so much going on and so much more that could be done but I’ve only been here seven months and it’s so important to wait, listen and see what God wants me to do here.”
While most teens were doing what teens do, Haley preached
Haley loves preaching. When most teenagers were doing what teenagers do, Haley was preaching at her local Methodist church in Somerset. “I only went to the Methodists because they had a youth group. I was attending an Anglican church at the time, but it was the youth group that got me!” Haley tells a great story of how, as a very young woman she was working in a bank, not especially enjoying herself and asked God to let her know what He wanted her to do with her life.
“I was laboriously encoding cheques, filling in the numbers and just asked God – what should I really be doing? I heard an inner voice say, ‘Be my minister,’ and at that point all 500 cheques flew up into the air!” Haley might have got into trouble at the bank, but it began a lifelong journey that she has pursued faithfully.
“I heard an inner voice say, Be my minister!“
Life moved on, Haley became a local preacher, married, had children, divorced, left the bank, and started a ministry working with people affected by drug and alcohol dependency. The relationship with church took a battering after her divorce but God wouldn’t let her give up. “I resisted and resisted. Someone told me to resist until you can’t anymore and one day I couldn’t. So I began at the Wesley College in Bristol and took my first steps to becoming a Methodist minister, eventually ending up on the circuit in Somerset and then Cornwall.”
Starting over isn’t easy for anyone
Starting over again, with significant theological qualifications under her belt, couldn’t have been easy. “It isn’t easy for anyone,” says Haley. “The discernment process was very disarming, and I felt extremely vulnerable – but if you can’t be vulnerable and know what that feels like, how can you minister to others when so many of us are broken and hurting?”
If you can’t be vulnerable and know what that feels like, how can you minister to others when so many of us are broken and hurting?
When Haley talks, there is an aura of grace around her. She’s excited about her future, about what might happen at Highertown and what God has planned for her in the future. “I’ve stopped making my own plans!” She laughs. “I’ve learnt that unless the plans are His, He doesn’t sign off on them!”
For today, Haley is right where she feels she should be, loving the fact that the Church of England is there for everyone and that ordination is indelible. “It’s also incredibly affirming and supportive,” she says, which probably explains why Haley seems so at peace.
“I’ve stopped making my own plans – I’ve learnt that unless the plans are His, He doesn’t sign off on them!”
Haley will be ordained Priest on Saturday 29th June at 10.30am in Truro Cathedral by the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro
By Jac Smith