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“My name is Patsy Attwood, I have just completed my degree in Theology and I am a Candidate for full time ministry within the Salvation Army. My role as a Salvation Army Officer will differ depending upon where I am sent to. For example, I could be responsible for the leading of a Salvation Army Corps (church) or centre, or I could be sent abroad. My life as an Officer will vary massively and that is something which really excites and inspires me! I am committed to advocating for social justice, helping the disadvantaged, and providing practical help for those in need, thereby living out the Salvation Army’s mission statement: Faith into Action.

My journey to Officership

“Over the last three years, I have been on a journey to discover just what God has called me to do - to become a Salvation Army Officer (an ordained minister in the Salvation Army). On September 1, I will move to London to train at the William Booth College. My journey to this point has been truly life-changing and the most challenging, but rewarding and enjoyable journey, I have ever been on. I have learnt so much about myself, but most importantly I have learned so much about God and deepened my relationship with him in brand new ways. 

“The application process to be accepted into the College is a long and thorough one because the commitment that you are going to make to the Salvation Army is lifelong; but the process is also there to make sure that you are ready to go. Having filled out my application form, I then had an interview in September 2020. After the interview, I then formed a development plan with my Supporting Officer (mentor) which consisted of many tasks designed to improve areas of weaknesses. It was challenging balancing my time between my academic work and the tasks that I needed to complete for my development plan. I am so grateful that the Theology and Religious Studies department really encourage their students to maintain good time management and planning.

“Having completed the development plan, I had another interview in February, where it was decided that I was ready to progress to the next stage of the application process, the Assessment Conference in May. Pre-COVID, Assessment Conference would involve staying at the William Booth Training College for a weekend, however, due to the restrictions, my Assessment Conference took place on Zoom. Over the course of three days, I delivered a presentation and a sermon, had a panel interview, and three personal interviews, as well as a pastoral role play scenario. It was a long three days, but it was also really encouraging to meet new people and to reflect upon the journey that I have been on and to talk about the ways that God has been at work in my life. The next day I was told that the Assessors recommended me to begin my training in September!

“I cannot begin to put into words the excitement that I have moving onto the next step in my life, I am looking forward to meeting and making new friends at College. I am sure that both my training and my life as an Officer will be challenging, but I know that God will be with me always, I know that He will be there to support, guide me and carry me through the really difficult times.

How has my time at Chester prepared me for Officership?

“The University Chaplaincy community has been an essential support network for me, and it was in this community where I was able to make friends for life and create many of my happiest memories. The Chaplaincy community has also provided me with many opportunities to develop the skills that I will need within my ministry, by giving me chances to experience the pastoral and social side to ministry, whilst also developing my preaching skills.

“I have also really enjoyed my academic studies here at Chester; studying Theology was really enjoyable and ignited my passion for Feminist Theology. This sphere of theology has taught me the value and importance of inclusion for all genders and in particular, my desire to promote the equal treatment of women particularly in the context of the Christian Church. Perhaps the most exciting area of my academic study lies in my dissertation. This was a piece of feminist practical theology looking into gender inequality within the Salvation Army in order to create a greater sense of awareness of the inequalities present within the Salvation Army.

“There is no denying the fact that university was quite challenging for me - moving hundreds of miles away from home was the most challenging thing I’d ever done, but I am so pleased that I persevered and continued because I have met some amazing people and learnt so much about myself and God. The support that I have received from all the members of staff within the Theology and Religious Studies department has been key to my success; the passion and commitment that they have towards both the students and their area of study, particularly in the last eighteen months, has been absolutely amazing and I cannot fault them!”

If you would like to know more about the work and history of the Salvation Army, please visit: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/.

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