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14 Dec 2018

The journey has only just begun

Julie Johnson was admitted as Reader in the Diocese of Europe in the Chaplaincy of St Pargoire, Hérault by the Archdeacon of France Ven Meurig Williams in late November.

However hard I prayed, I couldn’t manage to do up the top shoulder button on my cassock and I was in a panic. Hoping the surplice would hide the flap in the cassock, I slid into the front pew, just at the beginning of the service where I was to be admitted as a Reader.

Why was I putting myself through this? But I wasn’t, God was and He wasn’t going to let me go. I had met several readers when living in York and had vaguely thought about taking it further. But shortly after moving to France, my husband died and I went to pieces. Several years later the “thoughts” returned and rather like an irritating itch I couldn’t get rid of them. In the end I talked to our priest and several friends and after doing a lot of sitting, thinking and praying, I decided to apply.

Elaine Labourel, Director of Reader Ministry, came from Paris to interview me and I started the training which consisted of study, essays, giving a sermon (where my knees trembled) and leading a service, all of which should take three years, but it my case it took four because of the time I spent in hospital. I loved reading and researching the essays and going to several Workshops in Woking and the support and immense patience of Elaine. Without her help I couldn’t have got through.

Now I was sitting at the front, with a flapping cassock, feeling the love and support of people in the congregation behind me, waiting to become a Reader. But I also realise the journey has only just begun.