Nine new priests to be ordained in St Asaph
The Bishop of St Asaph will ordain nine new priests in the first of two services at St Asaph Cathedral this weekend (Saturday 26 June).
For the second year running, the six men and three women will be ordained under Covid regulations, with strict social distancing, face coverings and cleaning regimes incorporated into the service. Each of the nine candidates will only be able to bring three ‘supporters’ with them to limit the congregation. Other family, friends and colleagues will be able to watch the service via a live-stream on YouTube at
A service to ordain six deacons will take place the following weekend on Saturday 3 July.
The nine candidates for priesthood this year are:
- George Bearwood, a former musician, producer, tattoo artist and DJ who is working in the Alyn Mission Area (which includes communities to the north and west of Wrexham).
- Luke Bristowe, from Hope Street in Wrexham, the diocese of St Asaph’s newest church which opened in a former clothing store earlier this year.
- Helen Dawson – Assistant Curate in Borderlands Mission Area.
- Toby Jones who was born in Australia and moved to Wales in 2013. Toby is a keen cyclist and is currently chaplain to Welsh Cycling and the Welsh Racing Academy/Welsh Cycling Team. He is working in Pool Mission Area (which includes communities around Welshpool).
- Gregor Lachlann-Waddell was born in Scotland and grew up in Zambia where his parents are missionaries. As a deacon, he’s been encouraging his local churches to register as Eco-Churches and work towards better ways to care for creation. He’s working in the Byrn a Môr Mission Area (around Prestatyn, Meliden and Llanasa.)
- Benjamin Lines is originally from Birmingham but has been living in north Wales for the last 14 years. He is a marathon runner and poet and has established an online ministry with his wife, Catrin (and often their young children) throughout the pandemic. Ben works in the Aberconwy Mission Area (which includes Llandudno, Deganwy and Llanrwst).
- Joanne Mackriell was born in South Derbyshire and went to Westminster College in Oxford to study theology. She is looking at how craft and visual arts can be incorporated into faith journeys. Jo works in the Wrexham Mission Area.
- James Thompson and his wife, Sandra run a small farm, breeding and showing Wensleydale Longwool Sheep. Jim works in the Pool Mission Area.
- Gail Woodward is a former teacher who enjoys gardening. She’s working in the Borderlands Mission Area which includes Connah’s Quay, Buckley and Hawarden.
The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron said, “It’s wonderful to be celebrating the next step on the journey of ministry for these nine candidates as each of them are learning about the different parts of the diocese and the people they serve. From young to old, from new to old ways of ministry, we have a cohort of priests who give hope for the future.”
The Diocese of St Asaph stretches from Llandudno in north-west Wales across to the Wales/England border and down to Newtown in Powys.
Journey of ministry
George Bearwood is a former musician, producer, tattoo artist and DJ. He is from the Black Country in the west Midlands originally but has lived and worked all over the world. Before training for the priesthood, George owned a shop and auction house in Ross on Wye selling 20th century pop culture collectibles, such as action figures, movie posters, rare vinyl records.
George said, “I came to the church around 17 years ago, having not been into a church since my early teens. I wasn’t baptised and have no idea where my desire to go into ministry came from, but I became aware of a calling quite early on. Seeking ordination wasn’t a smooth process and I have had a certain amount of struggle to get here but no matter how bad things got I always felt that God was pushing me forward to something.”
George is married to Alex Mayes, Vicar of Connah’s Quay, also in the Diocese of St Asaph.
Toby Jones was born in a small rural town in the Australian state of Victoria. He moved to the UK in 2006 and to Wales in 2013 to study at Aberystwyth University. Toby is a keen cyclist and is currently chaplain to Welsh Cycling and the Welsh Racing Academy/Welsh Cycling Team.
Toby said, “I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, but it was only when I moved to Wales and started attending the village Church in Wales church that I felt at 'home'. During the first Christmas carol service, everything just clicked into place and I started to feel a calling to ordained ministry.” As well as cycling, Toby is a keen runner, horse-rider and has a pilot’s license.
Gregor Lachlann-Waddell was born in Scotland and grew up in Zambia where his parents are missionaries. Before training for ministry, he was a binman, lay university chaplain and army reservist. He started exploring ordained ministry after his training corporal told him he would make a better padre than a squaddie.
Gregor is married and has two young children. He said, “As a priest, I hope to reach out with faith, hope and love to those on the margins in our communities who have been left behind and overlooked by the inequalities of the society in which we live. I hope to be a witness to God’s light, bringing the good news of the Gospel to those who need it the most.”
Ben Lines is originally from Birmingham but has been living in north Wales for the last 14 years. Previously he was the Senior Pastor of Kinmel Bay Independent Evangelical Church. Ben said, “The Church in Wales is not the tradition I grew up in and yet ever since working as a youth worker in churches around Holywell I knew it was where God was calling me. It just took a while for me to let go of what I wanted and to trust God and what He has planned.”
Ben is married to Catrin and they have three children. He is a keen marathon runner, completing three in 2019 and training for another later this year. During lockdown, Ben wrote and posted a poem on social media every day. You can follow Ben on Twitter: benjamin_lines / Youtube Channel: Ben Lines
Jo Mackriell was born in South Derbyshire and went to Westminster College in Oxford to study theology. Prior to being ordained she worked in adult education and training. Jo said, “This has been a difficult year to establish a ministry in a new place, but I have found it very fulfilling to be involved in new ways of doing church, both online and in-person. I am looking forward to helping to develop some new projects in the area including a social supermarket, a ‘Kinsugi Hope’ group, supporting people with their mental health and also having the opportunity to integrate the visual and creative arts as part of our faith journey.”
Jim Thompson was born in Wolverhampton and moved to Shrewsbury at the age of six. He and his wife, Sandra run a small farm, breeding and showing Wensleydale Longwool Sheep. Before training for ordination, Jim was a worship leader and pastoral assistant but always felt God was calling him to do more. He said, “I really want to give the church a bit more presence and get it to be a part of life in the community; maybe I can make it more interesting so that it could appeal to a bigger cross section and make it relevant to the needs of the time.”
Gail Woodward was born in Nottingham and first went to church as a child with her godmother and continued until going to University in Lancaster. Afterwards she become a teacher before training as a Reader and then an ordinand. She has a daughter and two grandchildren and enjoys gardening. Gail said, “I love being in the garden and I especially enjoy growing Welsh heritage apple trees.”