The Adelaide diocese ordained two deacons and two priests on Saturday 26 November in St Peter’s Cathedral, packed with family and well-wishers.
Cameron Burr and Sally Sandford-Morgan were ordained as priests and Samuel Yengi and Benjamin Falcon as deacons.
In her sermon to mark the occasion (reproduced below) the Venerable Sophie Relf-Christopher, who spent time with the ordinands in retreat last week, said: “The church is getting a good deal today – I can assure you. These people are going to bring new things. New perspectives. New life. New gifts.”
The service also saw jubilant scenes as singers from the South Sudanese community danced through the church singing in the Bari language accompanied by drummers.
After the service, the four new clergy were given a warm welcome on the steps and forecourt of the cathedral where family, friends and members of the Diocese gathered to celebrate.
Here, they each tell the story of their individual journeys of calling.
For the last three and half years I have been studying for a Bachelor of Theology degree through St Barnabas College. I felt my call to ordained ministry during my three years as a volunteer chaplain at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Before that I worked in the hospitality industry to become a chef both here and in Victoria.
The journey from chef to ordained ministry has been a long and winding road. I started in the hospitality industry at 12 years of age before deciding to leave school at 16 to start my apprenticeship to be a chef. Cooking was all I had ever known. But a back injury left me needing to find an alternate career path. Around the same time I decided to examine seriously my life choices and the road I was taking, leading me to give my life to Christ.
God led me to want to connect with people who are also on a journey of discovery and change. I completed certificates and diplomas in community services, pastoral care, youth work, mental health and drug and alcohol counselling and began to connect with the Anglican Church through various roles within Anglicare SA.
Witnessing the work of people like Peter Burke and the Rev. Prue O’Donovan with those on the fringes of society, and attending Holy Cross Anglican Church at Elizabeth, I felt God showing me the role that parishes can play in bringing love, care and compassion to those in need. So I decided to become a part of that vision and hope to play my part by undertaking ordained ministry and helping to lead the local church out to the fringes of the community and showing God’s love to everyone.
I began to worship regularly when I was sent to Port Lincoln as a 21-year-old beginning teacher, and I was confirmed 18 months later. After 4 years I returned to Adelaide, Jamie and I were married, and I joined St Andrew’s parish in Walkerville.
I served in various roles, and after our children were born, I became involved in children’s ministry, which I loved. When I became a Lay Assistant, I discovered the joy of assisting with Holy Communion and it was then that I knew I wanted to do more.
During this time, I also took on the role of Service-Learning Leader at Endeavour College, which meant that I was able combine my love for teaching Chemistry and serving others in a ministry context at school. All these things, in conjunction with suggestions from other people, and God’s persistent calling, made me enquire about ordination, and I began my studies at St Barnabas College.
I moved to St Jude’s parish at Brighton two years ago and have enjoyed taking on a more formal ministry role as a student, and then as deacon. I am very thankful for the support of all those that have encouraged me along the way, and I am looking forward to serving God and his people in the years to come.
I was born in Kajo-Keji County in South Sudan, East Africa and moved to Australia in 1999 as a refugee. I am currently studying theology and working as nurse, and assisting in leading Bari Services at St Luke’s Parish in Modbury SA.
My Christian life started in childhood. I was born into a Christian family and was baptised and confirmed within the Anglican tradition. I believe that certain aspects in my life moulded my spirituality. In my language (Bari/Kuku) there is a common saying “Wale jujo wale”, which means “Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27: 17). My parents were inspirational; their compassion and humility shaped me. During my childhood, my parents ensured that we attended church services together. I very much enjoyed being part of the Sunday School Choir and assisting around the church with simple tasks such as cleaning etc.
In 1986 due to war, my parents, siblings and I fled from South Sudan to Uganda and became refugees for thirteen years. Despite the harsh living conditions at the Refugee Transit Camp, my trust in God continued to grow deeper. I became increasingly involved in leading youth at the church community in activities such as fellowships, Bible studies and prayer meetings until we moved to Australia.
I thank God for his blessings upon my family, my marriage to Rose Yobu, and for our children. God’s calling me to ministry, and my continuing to serve within the Anglican Church of Australia is an answer to that voice of God’s invitation to serve in the ordained ministry.
I am married to Stephanie and we have a 6 month old boy called Edwin (Teddy). I grew up in a non-Anglican faith context and for personal interest commenced a Bachelor of Theology with Flinders University in 2016.
I began working for AnglicareSA in 2017 and joined the weekly Workplace Prayers gathering. Liturgical prayers were new to me but I found them meaningful and evocative. I started to become aware of the breadth and richness of the Anglican tradition and began to attend services at St Peter’s, Glenelg. In Easter 2018, I was received into the Anglican Church, and as I neared the end of my theology degree in 2019, I began to recognise a call to ordained ministry. During my studies, I had opportunity to engage deeply with Uniting Church and Catholic theologies and spiritualities, which has given me a passion for ecumenical engagement. For the past twelve months my role at AnglicareSA has been in Parish Community Engagement and I have found great fulfilment in bringing together theology and its practical application through AnglicareSA’s work. I look forward to continuing in this role as a Distinctive Deacon.
The following is the text of the sermon preached by the Ven. Sophie Relf-Christopher, welcoming the ordinands and giving a hint of the life for which they have been chosen.
The Feast of St Andrew-Ordination 2022 Sermon
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable
to you, o Lord our rock and redeemer.
It is a complete privilege to be with be with you today.
I have been on retreat with these beautiful people since Wednesday.
The church is getting a good deal today-I can assure you.
These people are going to bring new things.
New perspectives. New life. New gifts.
It was a complete privilege to share the last days before Ben and Samuel were ordained Deacon, and the last days before Sally and Cameron were ordained priest.
Allow me to leave that thought of privilege and circle back in a moment.
Simon Peter and Andrew did not know what they were in for when Jesus causally sauntered by and said, “follow me”.
In fact, he must have had a persuasive way of moving through time and space, since in the account of the calling-of-Andrew in John 1, Andrew (who is a disciple of John the Baptist) sees Jesus walk past – and then John and Andrew clock him straight away.
John speaks for the group exclaiming, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’.
A little later Andrew hurried to tell his brother Simon Peter breathlessly,’We have found the Messiah’.
Andrew had no clue what lay ahead when he left his fishing nets behind to follow the Christ.
There would be highs – healings, miracles, feedings. St Andrew was present at the last supper, and Pentecost.
The shadow side to this was that Andrew suffered much, not just in his famous X-shaped martyrdom crucifix, but as he took a new faith into difficult circumstances and cultures that did not want to· hear God’s messenger.
Those being ordained today do not know what following their calls will mean for them either.
They already know there has been sacrifice.
Most here to be ordained will have lost income, time, perhaps some of them, most of them, status.
Some may have found the burden their call has placed on their loved ones difficult.
Some will have to move house.
Some may not live in their own home for decades.
Some will fit in their ordained life around other full-time work.
Some will never climb the corporate ladder or have riches.
Some will never be supermodels- although they all could have been.
But when Jesus says “follow me” in that persuasive way.
When God speaks into your core like a rumble of a volcano, or like the sound of pianos dropped from a great height, or perhaps for you like a tiny bird making the smallest song.
Well – what choice do you have? What choice did they have?
Like St Andrew, these people are trying to be faithful to what they hear God asking of them.
And it will not always be easy.
There will be days they drag themselves to church- not in the mood. Upset with the church, feeling let down by people. Occasionally let’s be honest, even angry with God.
There will be other days when they are leaning heavily on God’s strength. There will be days when the need that they see in others will be too much. There will be exhaustion, and frustration, and sorrow.
God will put people into the lives of these ordinands through their ministry, and some of those wonderful people will die. There is going to be all of that.
But remember ordinands – the lives of the saints were not easy.
The lives of those who would follow Christ today will not be all beer and skittles either.
To those gathered today I say, these are the people who were willing to sacrifice their advantage.
Like many others of you here who have sacrificed- lay people and ordained – disciples together as one body.
Many of you have sacrificed money, prestige, the future they thought they had before they heard the pianos fall, or small voice of God whisper.
But what they gain for those small sacrifices is immense privilege.
Samuel and Ben, Cameron and Sally …..
People will allow you into their lives with such vulnerability – it will be arresting. You will see the beauty, fragility, and strength of human beings.
You will see how widely, and wildly God loves them all.
You will see miracles. You will see sick people healed.
You will see rich give up their advantage for the poor.
You will see the vulnerable, teach the strong.
You will always have chocolates at Christmas!
You will never be alone …. because you join the clergy of this Diocese and among them there are some very fine people, who will love you and uphold you in your ministry.
You will know the immense privilege of representing God’s ministry to people. God help you, sometimes people will mistake your footprints for God’s own.
The privilege we share is immense.
The price I touched on earlier- tiny it turns out.
Your help is going to come from the Lord.
God will not suffer your foot to be moved
God will not rest in watching over you.
God will be your keeper.
The Lord will keep your going out, and your coming in,
from this time on and for evermore.
The Lord be with you!