FIVE people from Wrexham and Flintshire are among nine new priests to be ordained by the Bishop of St Asaph in a closed service at St Asaph Cathedral.

The group will be ordained on Saturday 3 October after the service was postponed from the end of June due to coronavirus and the closure of all places of worship.

Ahead of the service the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron said: “I am very glad that we are able to proceed with ordinations to the priesthood even if we find ourselves under similar restrictions as earlier this year. I had been hoping for a more usual ordination service.

“Our nine priest candidates offer a range of gifts for the life of the church and we are very blessed as a community to be sharing in their ministry.”

Strict social distancing, face coverings and cleaning regimes will be in place with each candidate only permitted to bring three “supporters” with them. In addition, Bishop Gregory and those being ordained will wear face visors for part of the service when maintaining a two-metre distance is not possible.

The service will follow a similar pattern to the ordination of nine deacons in St Asaph Cathedral in July.

No congregation was permitted then and the service was live streamed to family and friends.

Those from Wrexham are:

Gareth Erlandson, 36, a former music teacher who is based in Hope Church (St Cynfarch’s) in the Borderlands Mission Area.

He is enjoying the vibrant life of the three local churches and communities in which he works and he said: “I’m looking forward to discovering the “new normal” for churches, including new forms of worship and socially distanced socialising.

"As a priest, I’ll be able to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time and that will be so special for me.”

James Tout, 32, the former head of science at the Marcher School in Oswestry and now associate director of the Llan Project in Bangor Diocese.

He is also an assistant curate at St Giles Church in the centre of Wrexham.

He said: “The delay to the ordination has brought a huge amount of mixed emotions, everything from grief and loss that it didn’t go ahead as planned, relief in having more time to reflect and pray about the enormity of what is about to happen, expectancy in the waiting of something awesome that is to come. It’s been a total rollercoaster.

"For me, the sacramental nature of priestly ministry is foundational. To be able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist to nourish people, and myself, spiritually in order that we might be prepared to go out into the world and spread the good news and bring people into an encounter with God that is transformative is a huge privilege.”

Rachel and Andy Kitchen, Senior leaders of Hope Street in Wrexham. Andy and Rachel were deacons at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton Road, London and were due to be ordained as priests in London earlier this year.

From Flintshire:

Simon Piercy, 45, is a primary school teacher from Penyffordd and assistant curate in Holy Trinity Church, Gwersyllt in the Alyn Mission Area which is on the Wrexham/Flintshire border.

He said: “I am looking forward to developing a priestly ministry within the Church, sharing the love of God both as an ordained priest and as a full-time teacher within a primary school. The delay to my ordination has given me more time to prepare through prayer and reflection.”

The other candidates are:

• Sally Harper, a former senior lecturer in music at Bangor University, who is chaplain at St Asaph Cathedral

• Chris Spencer is an assistant curate in the Aber-Morfa Mission Area rooted in St Ann’s Church and St Thomas’ Church, Rhyl

• Sue Storey, a former nurse and midwife who is an assistance curate in Aled Mission Area, which includes communities on the Denbighshire/Conwy border

• Carol Thomas is part of the Expressive Arts Service in Conwy, offering African Drumming, Samba and Creative Composition workshops. She is serving in Denbigh Mission Area.

The Diocese of St Asaph is one of the six dioceses of the Church in Wales, an independent Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. St Asaph looks after 214 churches and 51 Church Schools.