This evening (14th January 2019) Hub in the Pub adopted the form of a humorous interview between Rev John Stopford and Rev Antony Dutton. Antony summarised his journey into ministry. He credits Whitegate Primary School for his basic religious literacy and explained how during a school trip to Rome he was amazed by the amount of religious devotion which he witnessed, but was unable to make it his own experience. He said he went up to university as an angry agnostic searching for answers in both the pub and cathedral.
Still seeking answers, he then returned to Chester to study theology and whilst there he was influenced by one of the Melanesian Brothers. He was also strongly encouraged by Rev Lesley Eden, with whom he often shared the Evening Office. Around that time a chance remark by Bishop Peter encouraged him to take the plunge and train for ordination. This he did at Cuddesdon College, Oxford, where he ‘met people as weird as himself’. During his ordination at Chester Cathedral he had a profound experience when the Bishops laid their hands upon him: he felt ‘he went from terror to bliss’.
Following his Curacy at Malpas and the inspiring lead by his training incumbent, Ian, he moved on to St John the Evangelist, Great Sutton, as Vicar. Asked about the highs and lows of his ministry there, he said that he had a very rewarding funeral ministry, but had mixed views about baptisms, particularly with difficult two-year olds. He thinks sermons are very important, but likes to keep them very focused.
Antony named two challenges he faces: one being the lack of general religious literacy and the other trying to encourage young people into church. He is in the process of writing his PhD in church history whilst enjoying his Parish Ministry. Antony chose the Ankawa Foundation as his chosen charity, which supports Christian Communities in northern Iraq (www.ankawafoundation.org).
Thanks go to David Hughes and his staff for the excellent food.