TWO new deacons were among those ordained in the Diocese of Winchester - the largest group to have done so since 2009.

May Barker is the new curate for All Saints Church in Southbourne and Matt Clayton joins St Swithun's Church in Bournemouth as their new curate.

They joined 14 others for their ordinations at a special service at Winchester Cathedral a fortnight ago (JUL 3), by the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, the Bishop of Winchester.

Ranging in age from 27-67, they bring a breadth of experience to the diocese. Ms Barker has had a varied career, working as a teaching assistant and foster carer before she received her call.

Mr Clayton managed a warehouse running an employability scheme to support people affected by addiction, homelessness or difficult circumstances back into work.

The Right Revd Tim Dakin, ordained the new deacons following their two to three years of training. Deacons have a special role within the church, often understood as the role of a servant, as they take on a particular responsibility to serve the community and help those in need. Deacons normally go on to be ordained as a priest a year later.

May and Matt will be working in Bournemouth, leading public worship and serving schools, hospitals and prisons. They'll in partnership with community groups to bring about social renewal and transformation. Working with their fellow new curates, they take responsibility for contributing towards the mission of the church in the Diocese of Winchester.

The Right Revd said: “I am delighted to have ordained May and Matt this weekend. Deacons lead by example, expressing Jesus’s love for the world through their prophetic service. I look forward to working closely with May and Matt over the coming years.”

Ms Barker said: “I’m excited about my ordination but I’m aware that it is the beginning of a new challenge on my journey with God. As I serve in a new parish my prayer is that more people will come to know the love of Christ.”

Mr Clayton added: “I feel I have a distinct call to a ministry of reconciliation – both in terms of our relationship with God and with those around us, and taking up the baton of mission and ministry in Bournemouth. I’m extremely excited about staying at my current church placement – St Swithun’s Bournemouth - since having been a member of the founding team it’s a huge honour to continue the work we started here nearly two years ago. Being called to ordained ministry is a huge privilege and I am excited to see where God is leading me in the years to come.”