Why a local preacher? 

Karen Quelch, Bishop's Stortford 

Karen QuelchAbout twelve years ago, two people approached me on different occasions, saying that they had a strong feeling God had bigger plans for me. Having completed my training as a worship leader I found myself working very closely with one local preacher who actively encouraged me in all I did.

I was about to enquire about becoming a local preacher, when whilst at a Hillsong service in London I received a very strong message of ‘NOT NOW’. Little did I know that within the week my husband would be diagnosed with terminal cancer.

At the start of my training, I found it difficult to start studying again. I struggled with juggling work and studying and decided to stop working until the course was completed. Then, my tutor moved away about eight months after we’d started studying as a group leading to the group being split up and new tutor having to be found for me. My new tutor was very patient, and I still had my very supportive mentors.

The course was intense but an enjoyable experience. I often found my family life took over my time when I should have been studying or planning a service, making it stressful. Other local preachers were supportive, as I struggled with a lot of course work and none of the exams which they had taken many years ago. I enjoyed being able to choose my own pieces for my portfolio even if they were very time-consuming. It gave me time to contemplate what God was calling me to do, whilst working on the project.

Karen Quelch bannerI became accountable in everything – my progress was discussed at local preacher meetings, and I often felt guilty if I had not done as much work as I felt I should. I became aware that my whole life was under scrutiny when I received letters questioning my suitability to become a local preacher. Initially this made me feel angry as my faith tells me that only God can judge and living together as God’s people, we should be more patient and tolerant.

Karen Quelch quiltMy conclusion from this episode, was that it was the judgemental people in this world that needed my prayers and forgiveness and I was to continue with my training. However, it has left me proceeding through life with an element of caution.

In three years, I completed two portfolios, each consisting of six original pieces of work, two service reviews and six services. I wrote book reviews, analysed scripture, made a quilt, embroidered a picture, wrote a poem, created meditations, wrote a short play – teaching me so many new skills.

The whole journey has been an incredible experience opening my eyes to many things in the world and leaving me with a very long reading list. My hunger for learning about my faith has not yet been satisfied and only God knows where I’ll go next.