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A Wonderful Weekend's Ordination Joy - In Pictures

A weekend of celebrations has seen five people ordained Deacon and three others Priest in the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria.

Carlisle Cathedral was packed with friends, family and supporters of the Deacons for their ordination by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, on Saturday afternoon.Those entering their ministries are:

• Craig Bentley – to serve as curate in the Benefice of Natland and the Benefice of Old Hutton and New Hutton;

• Peter Dixon – to serve as curate in the Benefice of Holme Eden and Wetheral with Warwick on Eden (Eden Wild Goose Mission Community);

• Mary Edwards – to serve as distinctive deacon in the Benefice of Penrith with Newton Reigny and Plumpton Wall;

• Fran Parkinson – to serve as curate in the Benefice of High Westmorland;

• Madi Simpson – to serve as curate in the Benefice of Ulverston.

 Their number includes a former RAF police dog handler, a health professional who worked in Nepal on HIV prevention, a globe-trotting former door-to-door bookseller, a retired local government HR Manager and a faith-filled, God-loving gran.

The five enter ministry in Cumbria as up to 35 mission communities (cross-denominational groupings of churches with mission at their centre) are formed across the county to help enable the God for All vision that by 2020 every person in Cumbria of all ages and backgrounds will have an opportunity to discover more of God and God's purpose for their lives, so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus within a Christian community.

Prior to ordination the five were joined by those being Priested for a retreat at the diocese’s Christian conference centre Rydal Hall led by the Rev Canon Godfrey Butland, leader of the
Grasmoor Mission Community in Cockermouth and who preached at the service.

He told the congregation: “Today our Deacons give their all for God and together we have to proclaim that God is for all.”

Mary Edwards will minister as a Distinctive Deacon, the third person to be ordained to this form of ministry. A Deacon is one of the orders of ministry, to which all clergy in the Church of England are admitted. Some remain Deacons all their lives but most are ordained priest usually a year after being ordained a Deacon.  Deacons have a full ministry in the Church of England but unlike priests, cannot preside at the Eucharist, pronounce the absolution or pronounce the Trinitarian blessing. Deacons focus on a servant ministry, particularly to the poor and marginalised.

Church congregations were also able to celebrate as services for the three people to be ordained Priest take place in their home churches. All will be ordained by Bishop James.

Those Priested are:

• Rev Peter Powell at St Michael's Workington on Saturday 29 June, 2019, at 6.30pm (Workington Mission Community)

• Rev Mark Houston at St Nicholas, Lazonby on Sunday 30 June, 2019, at 10.30am (East of Eden Mission Community)

• Rev Aimee Lynch at St John's Barrow Island on Sunday 30 June, 2019, at 4.30pm (Barrow Mission Community)


Ordinands’ Summary Profiles

Rev Craig Bentley - Benefice of Natland and the Benefice of Old Hutton and New Hutton

Craig, 30, was born and raised in Preston. After finishing college, aged 18, he joined the RAF. He undertook a year’s basic training followed by specialist training in Lincolnshire as an RAF Police dog handler. Craig spent nine years in military service, mainly patrolling bases at night and working with drugs dogs, vehicle search dogs and armed explosives dogs. His work took him to military bases across the world, including the Falkland Islands. Craig was brought up as a Roman Catholic but moved away from religion in his teens. Involvement in a Methodist church music group rekindled his faith and on joining the RAF he began to attend church again and drew alongside the RAF’s chaplains and began to explore ordination. Craig is married to Emma; they have two children, Lucy, aged three, and nine-month-old James. They are moving to Cumbria after spending three years at Cranmer Theological College in Durham.

The following verse had particular resonance for Craig during his training for ordination: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinithians 13: 13)


Rev Peter Dixon - Benefice of Holme Eden and Wetheral with Warwick on Eden

Peter, 66, was born in Yorkshire. He is married to Wendy who works in the NHS as a commissioner. They live to the east of Carlisle, and have two grown-up children. Peter graduated in Social Sciences and later completed a Master’s degree at the Tropical School of Medicine in Liverpool. He worked within the NHS Addiction Services before moving to Nepal for six years in the 1990s to set up a HIV prevention and treatment programme. He also ran health programmes under the auspices of the UNHCR in Tanzania and Mozambique. Peter was later Clinical Director for the Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust’s Drug and Alcohol Directorate. He took early retirement and has since studied for ordination through Cumbria Christian Learning. He and Wendy have worshipped at St Martin’s, Brampton, where he has been a churchwarden as well as preaching and leading services.

Peter says Isaiah 64: 4 has spoken to him during his time training for ordination as it points to a unique and faithful God with whom we should have a patient, confident and expectant faith.

Rev Mary Edwards - Benefice of Penrith with Newton Reigny and Plumpton Wall

Mary, 66, was born and brought up in a Christian family on a farm in South Wales. After graduating with a degree in Public Administration she moved to Kent and worked in local government. Mary moved to Cumbria in the early 2000s, settling in the village of Culgaith before she and her daughter, Sophie, moved to Penrith where she continues to live with her rescue dog, Meg. Mary ‘walked away from church’ as a teenager but her faith was reignited in her 40s when two close friends were baptized into the Anglican Church. She chose to take redundancy from her role as a HR manager with Cumbria County Council and since retirement has been an active member of St Andrew’s, Penrith. She has been called for ordination as a Distinctive Deacon, a ministry with a focus ‘on the borders’ and to people who are outside church.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 has held resonance for Mary during training for ordination, underpinning the need to turn to God for guidance, rather than steering our own course.



Rev Fran Parkinson - Benefice of High Westmorland

Fran, 53, was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, and lived in the south until the family moved to Lancashire, with Fran growing up in Chorley before later moving to Preston. Though she grew up in a Christian home she moved away from faith and left home aged 17. It was during this time that Fran became pregnant and while it was a challenging time it was here she says 'that God met me'. So began a journey a faith which challenged her to begin thinking of her vocation. Following a difficult first marriage, Fran divorced and then met Tim, who she has been married to for 23 years. They moved to Cumbria in 1999 and live in the Parish of Ravenstonedale. Daughter Jenny married in 2012 and Fran is also grandma to four children! She previously worked in an administrative role in the media, advertising, marketing and PR company of which Tim is a director. She continues to be a regular preacher at her local church, St Oswald’s, and admits to being a ‘natural evangelist’ finding that sharing her faith is a significant part of her life. Fran has previously completed the Diocese of Carlisle’s Called to Serve course which was the spring board for ordination training with Cumbria Christian Learning.

The following verse has had particular resonance for Fran, during her training for ordination: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose which prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)


Rev Madi Simpson - Benefice of Ulverston

Madi, 39, was born in Liverpool and was brought up in St Helens, Merseyside, and later went to Secondary School in Fleetwood. After a year out in Paris, she studied Geography at Newcastle University before then working as a door-to-door book seller in Montana and San Diego, in America, for two summers. A move to London saw her work as an administrator for St Paul’s Hammersmith – where she met her husband, James. A job in PR followed before Madi’s calling to work for the church saw the couple moved to Vancouver, Canada, where she studied for three years on a Master’s degree in theology. Back in London, the couple had three children and Madi served as churchwarden and community pastor with St Paul’s before they moved to Christ Church Turnham Green, in Chiswick. Since being selected for ordination she has studied for a further MA in Theology at St Mellitus College in London.

Ezekiel, Chapter 36 - as a prophecy to the mountains - holds particular resonance for Madi as she prepares for her new ministry in Cumbria.


Rev Aimee Lynch - Barrow Mission Community

Aimee was ordained Priest at St John's Barrow Island on Sunday 30 June, 2019, at 4.30pm (Barrow Mission Community).







Rev Mark Houston - East of Eden Mission Community

Mark was ordained Priest at St Nicholas, Lazonby on Sunday 30 June, 2019, at 10.30am (East of Eden Mission Community).












Rev Peter Powell - Workington Mission Community

Rev Peter Powell was ordained Priest at St Michael's Workington on Saturday 29 June, 2019, at 6.30pm (Workington Mission Community)








For more information about the God for All vision and strategy visit

All Pictures of Carlisle Cathedral Ordination Service: Louise Porter

For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at

















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