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100 not out - our Director of Vocations has done a ton of churches

First published on: 21st November 2023

Derek Walmsley, our Director of Ordinands and Vocations, is celebrating eight years in his role and has now preached about vocation in one hundred churches across our diocese.

“I wondered how many it would be, so I checked my records.” He says. “It turns out that I’ve been to preach in one hundred different churches.”

“When I started as DDO, my aim was to try to preach in about twenty different churches per year. I didn’t get many invitations in the first few months, of course. There was gap when I had a sabbatical in 2018 and a much longer gap during Covid. But now things have got back to normal, I will have preached in 23 different churches this year.”

And Derek said it is a continuing delight: “It’s a huge privilege and a joy to talk about God’s call upon our lives. I’m still learning what that means, so every sermon feels fresh.”

“It isn’t all Sunday mornings in local churches. I’ve been blessed to speak outdoors at Jervaulx Abbey, ecumenical Good Friday services in the market square and a church weekends. Outside the diocese, I’ve given talks in wide-ranging contexts from Spring Harvest and Soul Survivor to the Additional Curates Society Weekend. I’ve also spoken to vocations teams in other dioceses and at special vocational events at Mirfield and Scargill House.”

Derek added: “Ultimately the DDO role is about relationships, so this isn’t about me spouting wisdom from the pulpit, but getting into different places where I can encourage people to think about God’s call upon their lives. It’s also about helping people to see that vocation is for everyone – not as a duty but as a joyous response to the grace of God in Christ.”

Looking forward Derek said: “I plan to retire in the next couple of years, although I hope I’ll still have opportunities to preach after that. In the meantime, my diary has lots of space next year, so please invite me to your church. I’m available for Deanery Chapter meetings and church weekends.”

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