WHILE serving in the Navy for 22 years, Philippa Sargent kept denying suggestions by her colleagues that she was going to become a vicar after leaving. “I’ve now had to tell them: ‘Yes, that was the Holy Spirit speaking through you, and me ignoring it,” she says.
Her time at sea included a tour of Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2008, helping to train local people.
“It is very dislocated from the rest of life,” she says. “You do feel so dependent on God, because there is nothing else. You carry a gun, but that was never anything that I wanted to use. You are kind of thrown back on your own resources, and for me that’s my faith.”
She helped run church services in Iraq, and was struck by the fact that, in the Navy, “they know how valuable chaplains are to the morale and functioning of the armed services.”
To her new post, she will bring a “love of working with other people”, and the self-discipline that came in useful at sea: “It is probably a gift of the Holy Spirit; so I’ve learned not to be so dismissive of it.”
Philippa Sargent was ordained deacon on 28 June at Worcester Cathedral. She is serving her title at Kempsey and Severn Stoke with Croome d’Abitot.