What is your background and how did you end up serving in the Church of England?
I was born and brought up in Miraj, India. Both my parents loved God passionately. They sowed the seed of faith in my life and so I started loving Jesus from a young age. However, as I grew up my focus changed to pursuing my plans to move abroad, work hard and make lots of money. After I got married to Kavita, I decided to move to London. Though the move proved challenging in many ways – leaving my parents and community – my wife and I were soon blessed with a son, Abhishek, and daughter, Arpita.
However, as I settled into working as a nurse for the NHS, I had a sense that God was in fact calling me into full-time ordained ministry. I faced the challenge of making a decision. Would I continue following my own plans or commit my life to serving God?
Over time I found myself getting more and more involved at St James Church, Alperton. Revd John Root, the then-vicar of St James, noted my leadership qualities and invited me to join the core leadership team. Looking at the local context and the minimal number of Asian worshipers in the church, John Root released me to start an Urdu-Hindi fellowship in 2001, where Pakistani and Indian Christians could worship in their own languages. I began to plan and lead the services along with others at St James. This was the beginning of my working relationship with Church of England.
Over time, I became one of the core leaders at St James. Here I felt much-loved and able to develop under Rev John Root’s leadership. As I continued serving at St James church, the gentle voice calling me into full-time ordained ministry became louder. When I spoke to Revd John Root about it, he suggested that I should take a mock interview with retired Church of England selectors. This interview confirmed in my heart exactly what God was calling me to do, and thus began the two-year selection process, where I learned more about my own spirituality, Christianity and the Church of England. In 2011 I successfully went through BAP (Bishops Advisory Panel) selection process and started my theology training at St Mellitus College.
What was it like studying at St Mellitus?
Studying theology at St Mellitus was not an easy task. Writing assignments was something I had never done before. However with the help of God, the support of my family and supervisors I managed to successfully complete my assignments. St Mellitus have a wonderful programme called Mix-Mode training. This training is offered to people who are already doing some kind of ministry in the Church. I think this method of training is very effective as it not only looks for the candidates with academic capability, but also recognises their desire to serve God. The college is located in London and therefore I was expecting more diversity. However, in my cohort I was the only Asian. I hope to see more students from ethnic minorities studying theology at St Mellitus; my experiences were very positive indeed.
As an Asian leader, what has been your experience of the Church of England?
In the last few years I have come across a few Asian leaders who have reservations about the Church of England. However, during my training and curacy my eyes have been opened to the incredible opportunities I have by being part of an established Church denomination with a rich history and desire to serve the communities across our nation. As a charismatic evangelical I have been delighted to discover that I have the freedom to practice spirituality in the way that I chose to do so. At St James I feel very well supported and looked after by Revd Steve and Ali Taylor. The whole experience of The Church of England is hugely exciting and I hope many South Asian Christians will prayerfully consider ordination in the Church of England.