Grace trumps Law as kitchen boy becomes youngest cleric in Church of England history

Published: 16th September 2013

He grew up in Kent. He spent a year in Devon, and another in north London. Here endeth the biography of Chris Hassell. Almost.Because Chris will be the youngest cleric in the Church of England when he is ordained by the Bishop of Lichfield on Sunday, 30 June.That may sound like an ambition fulfilled, but Chris (who will be 23 years and 23 days old on Sunday) had intended on a career in the law.I wanted to be a solicitor. My mother and my grandfather had been solicitors and I had been offered a place at Leicester Uni to study law.But when I was 16, a visiting preacher said one sentence that hit me like a lightning bolt. He said One young person here today will receive their call to ordination. I knew it was me, at some point in the future.At a later service the congregation were challenged about the foundations that underpinned their view of life.

I realised my motives were wrong and Gods plan for me to be a vicar were not for just a part of my life but all of it!So Chris abandoned his legal plans and following the advice from director of ordinands (trainees) in his home area of Rochester went off to get a different experience of life. He worked in the kitchens of a Christian conference centre for a year before he was formally accepted for training as a vicar. Even then however, his youthfulness would have meant he fell foul of the Church of England rules that require curates to be at least 23 years old, so he accepted a twelve month placement in a large church in Finchley, north London in the middle of his training.The training wasnt easy. I loved the study, I felt at home, but the whole process, the time there, really forms a persons character to become more like Christ in attitude and outlook. The year-long placement in North Finchley really firmed up my desire to help young people live out their God-given identity.Chriss new identity as a clergyman will be forged in the village of Aldridge near Walsall where in his spare time he says hes also looking forward to digging his own vegetable patch as well as selecting walls on which to hang his collection of art from his travels in Kenya, Thailand and Peru.

Page last updated: Monday 16th September 2013 2:37 PM
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