An interview with Suse Chapman, a new committee member on Awesome. Suse is currently an ordinand and has just joined the Awesome Committee as our ordinands and first posts rep.
Suse so you’re an ordinand but an ordinand with a difference, you’ve already completed your training but aren’t yet ordained so what are you up to?
I’m doing a PhD researching dragons! Well, kind of. I’m researching different imagery and traditions within apocalyptic literature in 2nd Temple Judaism and how that might help us to understand imagery underpinning Mark 13.
Why on earth would you undertake a PhD?
Good question! I’d thought about it for a year or so before coming to College, but I was going to do something on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who is a great spiritual hero of mine. However, after some prayer and stepping back from research it quickly became apparent that New Testament studies is where God wants me. Looking back it all makes sense now, especially given what I believe is God’s call on my life to be teacher, but at the time it was a big surprise.
What are you currently reading (even if they are white, German and dead)?
I’ve just been reading Healing Agony by Stephen Cherry (and he’s not German!) after reading Embodying Forgiveness by L Gregory Jones. Both good books and a nice complement to each other in terms of where they go with their arguments about forgiveness. For my research I’ve recently been reading Creation and the Persistence of Evil by Jon Levenson, a very interesting book giving a Jewish take on theodicy.
When did you first sense a call from God to be a leader?
I remember preaching on a Christian theatre summer a camp at 16 and discovering that this was what I was made to do. I’ve always really enjoyed theatre but never had the same ‘this is me’ feel that I had when I ended up preaching at one of the services. Asides from that, it has been a long convoluted story from the age of 11 up until now.
Who have been the biggest influences in your life?
My youthworker as a teenager had a huge impact on helping me learn to pray and seek more of God. His time, commitment and willingness to give me opportunities to try ministries out was a blessing and made me think bigger than I would have done otherwise. As an adult, I think my chaplain as an undergraduate and my course tutor have had the biggest impact upon me, as models of godly Christian ministers, sources of wise and sensible advice, and also their generous hospitality and patience! There are many others as well, but they are probably the top three. As I mentioned above the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has had a massive influence upon me, both his understanding of grace, obedience and the integrity of his life and theology.
What are you hoping to do in the future?
Lots of different things! I really love teaching biblical studies and biblical languages so I’d love to develop more in that area at some stage, perhaps within a theological college. I’m looking forward (albeit a little apprehensively!) to curacy and the chance to integrate further what I’m learning now with the realities of parish ministry.
Why did you join the Awesome network and even more importantly why were you willing to serve on committee?
I joined the Awesome network because I thought if there was any women’s network I might be willing to be part of, this was it. In the past I have had an aversion to lots of Christian women events because I’ve sometimes felt a bit out of place (my interests lie in more stereotypically male interests like Formula One and single malt whisky). In addition I’ve really valued meeting ordained women from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of different gifts, so it’s widened my vision. I said yes to being on the committee because I really believe in evangelical women working together to use their voice for the good of the Gospel within the Anglican church. In whatever way I can I want to encourage other younger women to join in and see the possibilities as well.