The licensing service of the Revd Tracy Reynolds on Sunday (March 17) will be a somewhat different affair to many others.
Tracy’s new post as Team Vicar for North Wearside in the Anglican Diocese of Durham will be celebrated with a ‘messy service’ at St Cuthbert's Red House where the congregation can engage in a range of art-based activities to explore what it means to be a Christian.
Tracy said: The purpose of this licensing service is to explore the Idea of God as Shepherd who Blesses, walks alongside us, who calls us to serve one another sharing and enjoying one another's creativity.”
Tracy has taken over her new post as the latest stage in a career which has seen her combine a passion for God and a love of the performing arts.
A former Lecturer in Performing Arts at Newcastle College, performance has always been close to her work. Several years ago, she wrote, directed and performed in A Passion Play touring churches in the Durham North team at Easter, she has run drama and storytelling workshops, delivered sessions on presentation skills workshops for ordinands and worked as a Theatre Studies Course Tutor. She has also worked in theatre shows.
Of her service on Sunday, she said: “The idea of a messy service appeals to me. There will be lots of different activities going on and lots of age groups working together. We want people to celebrate being a Christian and having some fun along the way. We’ll try to make sure people do not get too messy!”
Previously Curate at Holy Cross Church in Ryton on Tyneside, she said: “I enjoy being able to be creative in the way the ministry of the word is shared within a congregation.
“I also value the opportunity to continue my creative writing. I have recently had a book of poetry and reflections published which has been very well received.”
She links that creativity with her work which helps people to express themselves. She said: “I have found myself drawn towards advocacy for those who are finding themselves in conflict with the 'system' – school, work etc. I feel passionate about being able to be alongside people who need someone on the outside who can relate to them, listen well and offer support.
“I cannot remember a time when I was not aware of the presence of God in my life. I think even the times when I have drifted furthest from Him I still was aware that He was the frame in which I lived, worked and had my being.
“As a small child I was always drawn to the altar and sanctuary, the focus of our worship in coming together to both remember and celebrate what God had done, was doing and continues to do.”
The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow who will be present at the licensing service said: “In many of our communities we need to find ways & times other than our traditional Sunday morning service to enable people to worship. Tracey will be very involved with Messy Church in this parish and so it seemed obvious that her licensing service should reflect her creativity as a messy church alternative.”
Tracy is also a strong advocate of women priests, saying: ““While studying to be a lay reader, I met very strong opposition to women’s ministry and I think that this unnerved me a lot. Once the women’s ordination issue had been resolved I still felt in a position where I needed to be sure that this was God’s will.
“I spent many months wrestling with the issue. I had never before been in the position where I was being told that I couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do something because I was a woman.”