Molly’s ordination story: “I would sneak off to the cathedral to worship.”

Published: Sunday June 25, 2023

Molly BootThis weekend, we have celebrated along with the eight priests and eight deacons who have been ordained.

Molly Boot, from East London, shares their journey from atheist to Baptist ministry and ordination as deacon in the Church of England.

Molly, 25, is from East London and will be moving to Gloucester, soon to be joined by their partner Hannah, who is also a vicar, and their dog, Alfie. Molly is a trustee of the Greenbelt Festival and the British Trust for Tantur, a charity that supports people in the UK to visit the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, where Molly spent some time as an undergraduate.

Where did your journey to ordination begin?

“I grew up in East Sussex in a tiny village near the sea, with my brilliant parents, my younger sibling, and our two dogs. I started training for ordained ministry in the Baptist church when I was 19, so I’ve been training for ordination most of my adult life.

“I was brought up totally atheist but became a Christian at school when I was 15. I had a group of Christian friends and became interested in why they believed what they did, asking them lots of questions and having some pretty fiery debates. In the end, it was praying for a friend on a minibus that made me explore the faith. I’d never prayed for anyone or anything before, but I was so concerned for my friend that I just prayed for her, to see what would happen. So much changed in such specific ways for my friend after that, that I had to begrudgingly say ‘Alright God, I think you might have had something to do with this, I should probably start going to church’. So I found a Baptist church near where I lived in Sussex and became part of their worshipping community. After a year out travelling, I came back and went to Baptist College in Oxford to study theology.”

When did you feel called to become ordained?

“It was while I was training for Baptist ministry that I first came into contact with the Church of England. At that time I was also involved in the music scene in Oxford – including conducting choirs and singing choral evensong. I fell in love with the liturgy and realised the Eucharist was a central part of my faith, so I would go to my Baptist placement church on a Sunday morning and then ‘sneak off’ to the cathedral in the afternoon. It was some Anglian friends of mine who said to me,”Do you think you might be an Anglican?” and that got me thinking.

“After a few more years training, I took some time out and studied for a Master’s in Medieval Church History and started to help out at Anglo-Catholic church. I just felt more at home than I ever have done in church before.”

What were the highlights of your training?

“I have really enjoyed training at St Augustine’s College and getting stuck into the community at St Matthew’s Bethnal Green, my placement church, where I’ve been running a children’s ‘Choir Church’ congregation — lots of music, parachute games and prayer.

“I felt so much encouragement from people I met at the Diocese of Gloucester, and meeting with Bishop Rachel was a real highlight. I learned that she used to be the priest of my next-door parish in Bethnal Green before moving to Gloucester, and we had this great conversation about what it’s like moving from East London to Gloucestershire and the surprising similarities between these two diverse urban/rural communities. The Diocese of Gloucester feels a really good place to be.”

Where will you serve once you are ordained?

“I love helping people find creative, unusual and surprising ways of exploring faith, and can’t wait to join in with all that God is already doing in the Leadon Vale Benefice, with the Revd Kat Mepham. St Matthew’s Bethnal Green has looked after me so well; it’s been the most amazing place to be formed and I feel like I’m going into a similar community feel in Leadon Vale with Kat. It feels very warm and nurturing.”

Molly was ordained deacon on Sunday 25 June at 10.15am in Gloucester Cathedral.


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