East and West come together in Mark's ordination
Mark Nam, Assistant-Curate at St Anne’s in Oldland and United Church in Longwell Green, was ordained as a Deacon recently in Bristol Cathedral – one of the first British-Born-Chinese priests in the Church of England.
And he will wear a stole designed to represent the hope of true reconciliation through Jesus Christ, as symbolised by the bringing together of ‘East’ 東 and ‘West’ 西.
An ordination stole is traditionally presented to candidates as a gift. For Mark, it was a gift that his father, Tony, had hoped to give him on the special day. However, after the sad passing of his father just two days before Mark was licensed by the Bishop of Bristol in July, Mark decided to raise money for the stole through crowdfunding, successfully raising £1,760.
After designing the stole with his wife, Kayi, Mark commissioned Juliet Hemingray Designs to produce a unique Chinese/Western stole.
Mark said, “I hope that this stole will remind people that God's love – spanning East to West – is for them, no matter what their culture or background is. Despite our differences, we are still one in Christ. My stole will convey this message wherever I go.”
For Mark, the East and West motif also reflects a calling from God to embrace all aspects of his identity, including the colour of his skin and his Chinese heritage.
Mark said, “Growing-up in the U.K, I suffered racial abuse and learnt to repress my identity to fit in. As I prepare for ordination, I sense that God is healing my past hurts, dealing with my present fears and redeeming my experiences for the future.”
Mark hoped that friends and family who have supported his ordination journey would each give a small amount, to be a reminder that he is entering ministry as part of a larger body and story. Mark now intends to frame and display a list of supporters to remember this occasion.
Mark Nam said, “As I consider my ordination, I feel very much like Joshua. Just before Joshua led God’s children into the promised land, he lost his father-figure, Moses. Moses never got to see his people enter the promised land, but the Lord allowed him to climb a high mountain and gaze into the promised land reserved for his children.
"I know my father saw where I was going … that I would be one of the very first British-born-Chinese ordained in the Church of England. I miss him so much, but I know he is now cheering me on with the cloud of witnesses.
“My ordination day was both a joyous and sad occasion for me. And yet, knowing that Christ endured both the pain of the world and the joy of salvation, I have hope in him.”