The Reverend Canon Julie Hutchinson presided at the celebration of Holy Communion, at our March meeting.
It was good for us to join together in this act of worship. Following it, Julie gave us a talk on her life, and her service in the ministry. Julie’s life had a powerful start. Like Hannah, in the book of Samuel, Julie’s mother vowed to give her child back to God. Butterflies had congregated on a bush just outside the room where Julie was born. As she watched, her mother took this to be a sign of new life. Butterflies have thus been significant to Julie. She showed us her ecclesiastical stole which, many years ago, she had had embroidered in a butterfly design.
As a child, in Leicester, Julie found great joy in listening to Bible stories. She played Mary in the school nativity play ——-even though she had hoped to be the narrator. They had Methodist neighbours. Julie and her sister attended the Methodist youth club, and it was there that Julie met her husband Phillip.
They based themselves in Oakham, and had a son and daughter. In 1990, Julie began a three year training, in Birmingham, for the ministry. It was during that time, of course, that the vote was passed, allowing the ordination of women, and Julie was ordained in 1993. She sought a job as a full time curate, and was appointed to Far Cotton, in Northants. She commuted from the family home for two and a half years, and was extremely grateful that her brother, who was a builder, was able to repair the curate’s house. Following this, she was appointed Priest for Morcott, Glaston and Bisbrooke. Eventually, she moved to Lyddington.
Julie’s next appointment was as Director of Vocation for Ordinands. She served in this capacity for eight years, finishing when Bishop Ian Cundy died. A few months after his appointment, Bishop Donald Allister asked Julie to become his Chaplain. This presented a whole new field of service. Her first appointment was to drive the Bishop to Reading, in a suitably large, and unfamiliar car. Being sworn at loudly by a fellow motorist, on a roundabout, was just part of a challenging day’s work. Julie described the varied role of Bishop’s Chaplain, as a self effacing ministry of service, recalling the words of the hymn “We feebly struggle, while they in glory shine”, which often meant trailing at the very end of processions. The office in the Bishop’s Palace is obviously a fascinating place —– open plan and noisy, as it copes with “the mess of ministry”. Julie dubbed it variously as “Mission Control”, “Accident and Emergency”, sometimes feeling like Triage. There was much fielding of requests from people wanting to see the Bishop.
Julie attended the Bishop’s inauguration in the House of Lords, and later, a very wet garden party at Buckingham Palace. She sums up her ministry as essentially living the life of a Priest. She is always keen to glimpse “the bigger picture” Julie stated that she has no regrets at returning to parish ministry. She concluded with the request, “All I ask is your prayers, as I seek to serve God, in the place where he has called me”.