Diana Pinchin, a member of St Francis Ewell (Ruxley Church), follows her calling to take vows of celibacy as part of Single Consecrated Life
The Single Consecrated Life (SCL) is a network which came about as a result of Fresh Expressions five years ago. This network is open to anyone who wishes to remain celibate and respond to God’s calling in this way, whatever their past situation.
I recently made First Vows to the SCL, which were received by Bishop Andrew at my parish church having been presented to him by the Revd Canon Stuart Thomas. It has been a long - and at times painful and frustrating - journey to have reached this point in my life. I first sensed that God was calling me to reach out to others since I was eight. I am now 56. This I have done, but knew there was something else I was being called to do and taking vows has answered part of this.
To try to discover what my calling was I undertook personal development, studied theology to an advanced level and become an associate of the Sisters of the Church, an Anglican order, in 1997. However, this proved not to be the whole answer. I first heard about SCL in 2011 and wondered if it would answer part of my calling, but knew the time was not right.
"I also had the image of God saying to me: “You are my daughter in whom I am well pleased”."
October 2015 saw me in the chapel at the Sisters of the Church, Ham Common, in tears knowing it was the right time to explore SCL. I also had the image of God saying to me: “You are my daughter in whom I am well pleased”. I have always been single and for many years have had a rule of life. Since discerning this part of my calling I have been a lot happier and more at peace.
When I mentioned this possibility to my mum, my spiritual director and trusted friends, no one was surprised and my parish priest was happy to do the necessary reference.
In February 2016 I sent my enquiry form to Bishop Andrew who was happy to continue the discernment progress and, having met a Bishop’s selector just after Easter 2016, the Bishop’s Chaplain contacted me and a date for my First Vows service was arranged.
"I really felt God’s presence, even more so when I made my profession and Bishop Andrew anointed me with oil."
I met Bishop Andrew formally in October 2016 and my First Vows of celibacy and simplicity were received in January 2017. The service took the theme of ‘Journeying with Christ’. During the service my mother read the Prayer of Teresa of Avila. I read one of the lessons, the call of Samuel, and gave a testimony as to why I had chosen it. Catherine, one of the Deans from SCL led some very meaningful prayers and my spiritual director, in addition to presenting me to the bishop, also preached on responding to God’s calling. I really felt God’s presence, even more so when I made my profession and Bishop Andrew anointed me with oil. It turned out other people also felt uplifted during the service. My plan is to make full vows in 2018.
If you wish to know more about SCL, see http://www.singleconsecratedlife-anglican.org.uk