Diocese appoints its first woman Archdeacon

Sarah ClarkThe new Archdeacon of Nottingham is the Revd Canon Sarah Clark – the first woman to take up such a senior position in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

Sarah, who is currently Team Rector in Clifton, replaces Peter Hill, who left to become the Bishop of Barking.

She said she was excited about her new challenge: “It feels like everything I have done so far in the diocese comes together in this role. I had a real sense that God was in it and that made it possible to put myself forward.”

There are two Archdeacons in the diocese – the Archdeacon of Nottingham covers the south of the Diocese including the city of Nottingham, and the Archdeacon of Newark covers the north of the Diocese. They have wide-ranging responsibilities for pastoral care and support of clergy, play a crucial role in appointments, and work with the Bishops and senior leaders to shape the direction of the diocese.

One thing Sarah will miss is having her own congregation: “It will be really odd. For the last 16 years my whole life has been shaped by being a leader and priest in a community and that is the hardest thing to move on from.

“I was not expecting this to happen and I have led my last Christmas and my last Easter as a parish priest without even realising it.”

Sarah is also the Dean of Women’s Ministry for the diocese, and has played a key role in encouraging the ministry of women and leading the local debate on women being able to be Bishops.

 She said of her own appointment as Archdeacon: “The most important thing was to get the right person for the role of Archdeacon of Nottingham regardless of gender, but I hope it will be encouraging for younger women to see that they can be appointed to senior roles and help women thinking about God’s call on their lives to see that all the doors are open.

“I can only be myself, and that is bound to change the mix in some form or other. I have always found women’s ministry to be very welcome in Nottinghamshire.”

Sarah started her working life as a civil servant in the Employment Service but felt called to study theology and went to St John’s College, Bramcote. She entered as a Baptist but felt drawn to the Church of England after “encountering God in a fresh way in the Eucharist”.

She was a curate at St James’, Porchester, before moving to the united benefice of Carlton- in- Lindrick and Langold with Oldcotes, where she stayed for almost seven years.

The move to Clifton happened just over five years ago, where Sarah was part of a team serving the community of Clifton, including the congregations of the churches of St Mary’s, Holy Trinity and St Francis.

Sarah’s induction as Archdeacon of Nottingham will take place on October 26 at Southwell Minster.