Revd Preb. Sue Strutt
I was ordained as a non-stipendiary deacon in 1990, having completed the local non-residential course, and was among the first cohort of women to be ordained priest in 1994. I became a full-time stipendiary curate that same year in Leominster, Herefordshire. In the very rural area of Leominster and surrounding parishes a team of 18 parishes was formed.
In October 1996 I moved to the Ledbury Team Ministry as a Team Vicar, initially looking after 5 parishes which we named the Hop Churches. Three more parishes were added a few years later. Over the 18 years in which I served those parishes two self-supporting ministers were able to fulfil their vocation through working as part of our team. Also on the team were two Readers, three retired clergy, and 3 or 4 lay people. We worked the Minster model of ministry in that, as a group of ministers, we met together to pray, plan and discuss issues that had arisen, then take our ministry and mission out to the parishes. All parishes knew each other and all the ministers, although certain people continuously ministered in particular parishes. Parishes worked together, e.g. parish share was considered the responsibility of the whole group so poorer parishes were supported financially by wealthier ones, and fundraising was often a joint enterprise. I am convinced that this way of working is the most fruitful way forward for the Church in rural areas, given that the number of clergy is decreasing and more parishes need to be grouped together.
I also passionately believe in the place of the Church in the community, and the fact that many people supporting various organisations, e.g. village hall, charities, youth groups, are people of faith is, for me, a sign of God at work in the world. Before, and after, ordination I served on the Diocesan Board of Education and the Council for Social Responsibility as well as being part of the support group for the Agricultural Chaplain. Another role I undertook was as Bishop’s, then Diocesan, Advisor for Women in Ministry for four years. I was made a Prebendary (Canon) of Hereford Cathedral in 2007, and retired in 2014.