Dutch woman to become priest after finding ‘home’ in Exmouth

  Posted: 09.09.19 at 12:43 by Joseph Bulmer

For Gerda van Ommeren, her ordination at Exeter Cathedral on 14 September will be the culmination of an unexpected journey.

Originally from the Netherlands, Gerda felt prompted to move to East Devon five years ago, a place she had never previously been to.

She says she found a home at St John in the Wilderness Church in Exmouth: “I was made to feel welcome but it went deeper than that, it wasn’t just ‘surface nice’”

Gerda has just completed her ordination training at St Mellitus College in Plymouth and feels particularly motivated to work with children.

She said: “The reason I am here is because I felt called by God. Originally I thought it was just to live here and work here and ‘be happy’.

“But actually I found out he wanted me to work in his church, here in Devon.”

Gerda grew up in the Dutch Reformed Church but says she now feels at home in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

“It feels weird and very significant now I am approaching ordination. I was licensed as a lay worker a few weeks ago and even that felt very emotional.

“I think when I have that clerical collar on it will make more sense for people who don’t know me when I go up to talk to them!

“To be ordained is to be a leader, but one who is constantly serving their community.”

Gerda is one of 25 people, being ordained across the Diocese of Exeter in September. A further 27 ordinands, the name for someone training to be a priest, will begin or continue their studies this month.

The Rev’d John Fisher, Director of Ordinands, said it was incredibly exciting to support them and that their example “should encourage all followers of Christ to re-consider how they are serving God.”

Once she is ordained, Gerda will serve as a Deacon in Collaton Mission Community in Goodrington, Torbay.

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