Final challenge for new Rector
THE new Rector of Thornton-le-Dale and David Beckham share common ground in that they both believe they have room for “one more challenge” as they approach the end of their careers.
And just as the England footballing legend looks set to bring the curtain down on a glittering career at his new club, Paris St German, the Rev Dr Jo White also believes she can leave her mark on her latest and, most likely, final post in the Benefice that also includes Allerston, Ebberston, Ellerburn and Wilton.
Her arrival was met by a 200-strong congregation at an Institution and Induction Service on Saturday, an age-old tradition that sees the church hierarchy, and local dignitaries joining parishioners in welcoming a new priest to their church. A busy weekend surrounded by friends, family and well wishers was then topped off with her first Sunday service.
“It has been a very busy, very enjoyable and really emotional weekend,” she said.
Born and raised in Kent, Dr White moved to Preston as an 18-year-old where she began the studies that would eventually earn her a PhD in Adult Education and Community Development. It was through her initial career as a teacher for people with learning disabilities that she met her husband, Hilton, who ran the residential where her students lived.
Dr White’s faith, already a constant in her life, became increasingly important as the years passed with more and more of her time taken up by the church, be it through teaching Sunday School, carrying out administration work, leading prayers or visiting parishioners.
The path to priesthood soon followed.
“One day, a Sunday, I had an overwhelming sense that I wanted to be a priest,” she said. “The best way I can describe it is, if you are a girl, going past a jewellers and seeing a diamond and wanting to have it there and then or, if you are a man, seeing a nice car and wanting it. There was no explanation, I had never wanted it before.”
She studied for three years part-time on the Northern Ordination Course at Manchester and was ordained and given her first posting in Derbyshire in 2003.
Several happy years followed but then Rev White and her husband decided to have one more adventure and began looking for postings nearer to the seaside.
Searching through church newspapers, she happened across a vacancy for the Benefice of Thornton-le-Dale which had been without a rector since Rev Paul Mothersdale left the post just over a year ago.
She said: “A week before I left my last post, David Beckham said ‘I feel I have one more challenge in me,’ and that’s how I felt.
“My husband and I wanted to be near the seaside and I was just looking around for any vacancies that were near the sea when I saw the advert for Thornton-le-Dale.
“What the parish does is write out a job description and what they want from their parish priest and this one just seemed to be a comfortable fit.”
She added: “The lovely thing is when I was announced by the church in December, almost straight away I started receiving emails and cards from here to where I lived in Derbyshire. I had Christmas cards from people, cards when we were moving house, saying they were praying for us and our move, and cards welcoming me to the area.
“Everyone has been very welcoming so far, it has been absolutely lovely.
“I know they have had 14 months without a Rector but I just think they are genuinely nice people. To have such a positive beginning is just great.”
Now Dr White is set to become a well-known figure around the Benefice as she carries out her work – even more so considering she will be joined by her dog, Poppy, who was a hit with young and old in Derbyshire.
“The joke is, we only work one day and that’s a Sunday but of course it is much more than that,” she said. “When times are bad, whether people are bereaved or their relationships break up or they are ill, it is then as Priests we are called to be with them and minister to them.
“But then on the plus side what I have experienced is the joy of newborn babies, baptising young children and working with young families.
“From my point of view, it is very humbling that people allow me in, because I am there at the very rawest of times as well as times of great celebration. They are inviting me in and that is very precious and you don’t forget that.”
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Weather for Malton
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 6 C to 10 C
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