What do you do?
I’m the Priest in Charge (Vicar) of St Nicholas Church, Saltdean.
How did you get into it?
It’s not so much something you get into as something that gets into you. I went to Sunday School as a child but didn’t really go to church when I got into my teens. After serving in the RAF and as a Psychiatric Nurse, I moved to Brighton in 2000 and started to attend St George’s Church in Kemptown. Gradually I experienced the feeling that I was being called to the priesthood, I knew this was ridiculous as ‘people like me’ don’t become priests. After trying my best not to, I was ordained in 2012 and served my curacy at St Mary’s, Goring by Sea. I suppose that I got into it because that’s what God wanted me to do, despite my best efforts. As St Augustine of Hippo said. “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”
What's the best thing about what you do?
Being alongside people at the most important times in the lives. It’s a great privilege to be allowed to share people’s milestones; birth, marriage and death especially. Being a Church of England parish priest means being there for the whole parish, not just those who come to church. It doesn’t matter if you never miss a service or you only come at Christmas (or never), we’re your priest. I also like that, due to the dog collar, I’m visible, people know who I am and what I do. It’s great when people stop me in the street for a chat, to ask questions or to share their stories.
What’s the most difficult part of what you do?
Not being able to reach people who don’t know the amazing love of God. I absolutely believe that people’s lives are changed for the better for knowing and following Jesus; I don’t mean you’ll get financially richer, better looking or slimmer (look at me) but deep down a relationship with Jesus gives life a meaning I haven’t found in anything else. Also having to be in church at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning isn’t good, I'm not a morning person!
What advice have you got for people who’d like to get into what you do?
Come to church! Even if you don’t want to do what I do, come to church. Whether it’s ordained ministry or something else, God has a purpose for your life. I know people who never went to church in their lives and a year after being baptised were on their way to training for ordination. One of my favourite quotes, from my favourite theologian, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is, “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.” It’s the same in church!
Fr Jim Horton
St Nicholas Church