Mo Budd, St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Addington

My journey to faith and sense of calling to ordained ministry happened in quite a round-about way.

When the student movement against tuition fees was at its height in the early 2010s, I was studying in Brighton. Having always had strong but somewhat inarticulate feelings about justice and equality, in this febrile environment I had discovered feminism, Queer community, and radical politics, and quickly became involved with various forms of political and social activism. But within a few years, the student movement had collapsed in defeat, and the communities I had been a part of turned in on themselves, lost in bitterness and infighting. In 2014 I arrived in London, deeply disillusioned with movements and scenes of which I had been a part and in search of a community rooted in something more than having this or that characteristic in common – something deeper than class or gender or political opinion. What I found was church.

Being a total nerd, I quickly fell in love with the elegant logical coherence of Christian theology: the doctrine of the Trinity, Creation, and Incarnation. What convinced me to stay, though, was a dawning understanding of that which is at very heart of the Church’s life: the Eucharist; the moment in which all time and space and difference are gathered up, as we are fed by and participate in the inner life of the triune God, whose complete self-giving is the source of our life and our salvation.

The experience of being drawn into the reality of these holy mysteries gave new purpose to a life of activism which, for all its urgency, had hitherto rung strangely hollow. My passion for social justice transformed into a drive to see the Kingdom of God dawning on earth, still in concrete and practical terms, but rooted in God’s act of loving generosity which calls us to reciprocate and sends us out to build the Kingdom.

As my faith grew, so did the magnetic pull of the communion table and, along with it an increasing number of people telling me I should explore the possibility of ordained ministry.

And so, after several years of prayerful discernment, essays, conversations, hoops jumped, and finally a Bishop’s Advisory Panel (known colloquially as a BAP) I set off to Mirfield in West Yorkshire for three years of residential training and formation in a semi-monastic community. Mirfield turned out to be a good example of God’s power to bring together people from across a wide sweep of theologies, traditions and backgrounds; people who might disagree and even dislike each other, but nonetheless felt compelled to love one another as fellow creatures and as sisters and brothers in Christ.

In this very catholic context, great importance was laid on the role and person of the priest, often to the diminishment of lay and diaconal ministries. It wasn’t until we were in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic that I really understood, properly, that as much as I yearned to be one who celebrates the mass, I was just as profoundly called to be a deacon in God’s Church. Living with my fellow ordinands as we all struggled with lockdown life, on top of the stresses of training and shared life in college, I found that what was most life-giving and sustaining for me was to be alongside my community in prayer and gentle caring. God spoke most clearly to me in the mediation of petty conflicts and the giving of pep talks and in praying over people in their distress.

Flash forward to recent days: after the long slog through discernment, college, and covid, the joy and relief of finally being ordained deacon last Saturday was overwhelming. God’s goodness is overwhelming. I’m only just beginning to get to know the parish where I’m now serving as a pioneer curate, and I’m excited to find out what God is up to, and what God will ask of me as I minister alongside the people there. Having begun my journey of faith expecting to serve God by helping to build strong movements for earthly justice, it feels unexpected and somehow more far exciting to begin my diaconal ministry by simply getting to know people, learning their struggles and loves and listening to what God is saying to them and through them. I’m as committed as ever to building the Kingdom and growing the Church through community organizing and political engagement. But the past few years have convinced me that the ‘pioneering’ bit will only be meaningful and sustainable if it arises organically from those relationships and conversations as they reveal what God’s will is for this particular community at this particular time.

Annie Wanjohi, St John the Divine w St James the Apostle, Kennington

The journey to ordination has been a surprise to me and even more so at this point. I was born and raised in Kenya, one of seven siblings. I was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family. Growing up I was fascinated by the Italian priests who would come to preside in our local parish once every month. It was a hilarious moment for my siblings and I as they couldn’t pronounce the Kikuyu words properly, little did I know how difficult it must have been for them to learn the local language and preach in it. I loved attending the Mass. The highlight was the offertory dance and the elevation of the host.

Whilst in University, I started questioning certain aspects of the Catholic faith and the meaning of life. Through a series of events my life was fundamentally changed. My brother-in-law John, ‘got saved’. My sister and I saw the vivid difference in his life and the joy it brought him. He invited us to attend church services with him and it was an incredible journey of discovery. I found out that I could have a close relationship with Jesus. This was news!! I had never heard that before and I was thrilled! I longed to learn more and attended different charismatic churches in Mombasa and Nairobi enjoying them immensely.

Hungry for the truth, I was able to read the bible, prayed and fasted a lot. I found it fascinating and enriching. When I relocated to London, I started attending St Saviour’s Church, an Anglican church. I enjoyed this greatly as it reminded me of my Catholic faith which I now understood more and more and they used gifts of the Spirit. I volunteered in the church in many roles including PCC secretary (learnt all those big church words) for the Rev. Wendy Saunders and then teaching Sunday School. I carried on teaching Sunday school which I enjoyed very much. Children are interesting, their fascination, understanding and interest in the gospel stories always so refreshing.

In 2018, during an admission to communion and confirmation service, I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Karowei. He made a great impression on the young teenagers and the confirmation service was a huge success. Later that evening the Bishop spoke to me and dropped a bombshell with the words, ‘You have been called to be ordained’. It was such a shock to me, something I had never considered! I also got angry and started arguing with him as I did not want to go back to yet another university to learn as that would be my fourth one. I had trained as a teacher at Kenyatta University, then as a nurse at University College Worcester, then had to do a ‘Return to Practice’ at the University of Greenwich. I did not want to go to a fourth university! In fact, I felt for the first time in my life that I was in a good place. Bishop Karowei was patient but firm and challenged me to fill in all the paperwork that he would send and that if the doors opened, I would know that I’m truly called. If not, I could happily continue with my life.

So I prayed and hoped that the Bishop would be proved wrong, but alas, it was me who was! From the moment I started enquiring, every door opened from vocations initial meeting to the BAP, Bishop’s certificate course and eventually my Theological training at St Augustine’s (I eventually resigned from my nursing job).

To be ordained means to be a vessel trained appropriately to be used by God, inorder to be a good fit for His Kingdom. The training has ripped apart my theology, opened up my thinking, stretching it to consider things I would have never considered before. I have been exposed to many experiences in pastoral care, church placement which have helped in my formation.

My hope in ministry is that I can be that light, enabling people to see God as he is through Christ. To tell people of his salvation plan, that God loves them, he cares for every detail of their lives and he longs to have a relationship with them. He desires that they live in the fullness of life with him. My hope is to make Christ known in whatever way and form possible. Ordained ministry allows me the privilege to meet people and witness to Christ’s love in ways I couldn’t do before.

Find out more about Exploring Your Call on the Vocations section of our website at