A former nurse and healthcare practitioner who has spent much of her life caring for others, adds ordained ministry to her portfolio of skills she will bring to St Nics in Durham City.
Claire Elwood, 50, will be ordained as a Deacon in the Diocese of Durham at a ceremony in Durham Cathedral on the 30th June.
Claire comes from a clergy family and spent much of her early years in parishes in the North of England before training to be a nurse and settling in Nottingham. Claire went on to work with pregnant teenagers and delivered private postnatal support services as a self-employed healthcare professional. But it was her work with a church in the city centre caring for those on nights out that ultimately set her on a path of exploring training for ordained ministry.
Claire explains: “I’m originally from the north although I’ve spent most of my adult life in Nottingham where I moved to do my nurse training and worked in the big teaching hospital there as a staff nurse. I got involved in a local evangelical church in the city centre and through that church, I continued my faith journey and participated in different ministries, one of which was ‘night time economy’ ministry to student nightclubs.
“It was a short walk from the church down to a student nightclub. We would take toast and we would invite students back into church for a cup of tea and some toast, time of chat and sobering up or just looking after them till they found their friends or whatever. Often the conversation became about faith and life, they’d be very open and curious. Curious to know why we were up [so late], why we were coming out to the nightclub rather than just being open on a Sunday morning, curious about God and they usually had big life questions such as why there is suffering because they had experienced that in their lives and didn’t have answers for it.”
Asked about how this outreach pastoral work got here thinking about ordained ministry, Claire said: “Initially, I was more interested in how we took Church out and took God out to people. I came across the pioneer training at the Church Mission Society in Oxford and thoroughly enjoyed that study. But a couple of years into that training, I began to discern that maybe God was asking me to not stay as a layperson but to train for ordination.”
Claire’s work with pregnant teenagers also helped shape her faith journey, Claire comments: “It was very stretching and challenging work, they were girls who were in need of pastoral support. They were usually socially excluded, and it was a scary time for them. I worked quite closely supporting them through pregnancy and trying to equip them for the changes ahead. They knew disappointment and difficulty so there was a challenge to add integrity and kindness to their lives whenever possible. To see them grow in confidence was very rewarding.”
Claire met and married her husband Tim whilst in training in Nottingham and they have three grown-up children and were recently blessed with a Grandchild.