RACHEL Gaunt was born in Warrington, but grew up in Bahrain. The
family moved there when she was five (both her parents were
teachers), and she didn't return until she was 16.
Faith played no part in Rachel's upbringing, but at Durham
University she lived in a student house with 20 people, four of
whom were Christians. "There was something different about them."
Studying a module on the influence of the Gospels on English
literature meant that Rachel sat down and read all four Gospels in
one go; she thought: "Yes, there is something in this." She found
herself "sneaking out to services in Durham cathedral". When she
joined the Christian Union, she found that everyone else there
apparently "knew the same songs from Sunday school - I felt I'd
somehow missed out".
After university, Rachel trained as a journalist and then worked
in television production. She started to feel "that I couldn't be
as faithful to God as I'd like - to be good at my job, I had to
compromise on the way I'd want to live my life as a Christian."
Applying for two different jobs on Songs of Praise, she
challenged God, "If I don't get these jobs, I will do whatever it
is you want me to do."
She didn't get either; and embarked instead on a period of
"listening to God more - being prepared to go where he wanted me
to". She worked first for a Christian charity, trying to keep
children who were on the point of being expelled in school on a
more constructive path; and then in her own church's office, before
she started to think about ordination.
Rachel is now in her first year of training at St Mellitus
(North West), where the context-based training involves a single
placement for the three years of the course, rather than a number
of short-term ones. "I was afraid that, for me, life in a
residential college might feel a bit like living in a bubble; this
way enables me to feel I'm already using what gifts I have in God's
She divides her time between two churches in "quite deprived
areas, with all the usual social issues, and two different styles
of worship on a Sunday".
Both are a contrast to her own experience of a large,
charismatic Evangelical church, but St Mellitus has also opened her
eyes liturgically. Morning prayer in varied traditions in college
has taught her "that God can speak to us through something that
would once have seemed quite alien. At our last residential
weekend, in the middle of a BCP service, I realised that I was
actually praying, and hearing God speak to me."
One of the ways in which TAP helps is by reducing the financial
burden on dioceses: "At St Mellitus NW, we are all on placements in
parishes where the cost of a part-time member of staff would be
beyond them, so the help is invaluable, not just for the students
but for the parishes we serve."
When Rachel started going to church, her family thought at first
that she had joined another university club - "like ballroom
dancing. But when she took the further step towards ordination,
Rachel's brother said: "We don't know why it's taken you so
HOW TO GIVE:
WE STILL take cheques, postal orders, cash, and charity cheques.
But many of our readers find that the simplest way to give is by
means of the online giving page: http://www.hymnsam.co.uk/train-a-priest.aspx
. This is a secure page, and so your donation can be given safely,
in just a few moments.
Please send other donations to our Norwich office:
13a Hellesdon Park Road
(If you would like an acknowledgement, please enclose a stamped
Gift Aid enables UK taxpayers to increase their donations to TAP
by an extra 25p in the £1, at no additional cost to themselves, by
making a simple declaration of eligibility. You can do this on our
online donations page, or, if sending a cheque, by using the form
in the newspaper.
Spread the word
PLEASE encourage other people to give to TAP, too. A colour
leaflet can be downloaded here (PDF document). If you
or your church is planning a special collection or fund-raising
effort, please let us know so that we can mention it in the