New Methodist minister in Spalding

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It’s flat, has big skies and lovely sunsets. Then there are the level crossings that stop her journey into Spalding.

They are the Rev Frances Ballantyne’s first impressions of the town and South Holland, where she is in the process of transfer into the Methodist ministry.

Frances and husband David have moved to Spalding for Frances’s new role serving the Methodist Circuit of South Holland,including the churches of Gosberton, Gosberton Risegate, Gosberton Clough, as well as St Thomas’s Road and Broad Street Methodist churches in Spalding.

If Frances occasionally finds the level crossings a bit of a nuisance, retired heating engineer David probably takes a more relaxed approach as one of his hobbies is model railways.

The pair had never previously visited Lincolnshire when Frances learned this would be where she would go back into church ministry after eight years in chaplaincy, working in community hospitals and a mental health unit in Leicestershire.

Frances brings with her the personal story of what she calls “bringing me out of the shadows into a more healthy, fulfilling life.”

She is referring to a time in her mid-thirties when Frances had what she calls a “mid-life crisis” when she began to question the Evangelical church tradition she was brought up in and in which women were seen to serve Christ by serving the all-male leadership.

She says: “That led me to look at the bible without the influence of the church teaching. I realised God had a purpose for my life... I had gifts, talents that had been unused all my life so far and were needing to be brought into the open.”

That prompted a move to a tradition that was “more welcoming to the role of women”, the Congregational church, where her gifts were recognised and Frances was set on the course towards ordained ministry.

After finishing training in 2001, Frances served as an elder for three years and then applied to go to Hutton Free Church, where she was ordained, and where she worked until 2008.

The call to chaplaincy followed, but she was also preaching at different churches on Sundays, and worshipping at the Baptist Church and sometimes the local Methodist church.

When she began to feel unchallenged in her chaplaincy role, Frances says “my heart was drawing me back into church ministry”.

Frances, who lists poetry, cooking and gardening among her hobbies, is still in the process of finding her feet in this district, as well as meeting people from the various churches. To assist with that, David is converting a van to a camper for explorations in their new county.