Ian Warburton is a local preacher in the Tynedale Circuit, Northumberland, having become fully accredited in 1997.

I returned to Methodism in 1988 after a long period away, which included several years as a member of the Church of England. It wasn’t very long before I felt the first stirrings of a call to preach but how would I progress this in an already busy life? I had a demanding job as a manager in the NHS and was married with three young children. Also, I was well aware that my reading and Biblical knowledge were rather lacking. So I initially ignored the call, which made God call me all the louder. Eventually I spoke to my Superintendent Minister and, whilst we agreed that I was not yet ready to test the call, he made a number of suggestions for reading and study.

It has been a privilege to serve God and work with some wonderful people during this ministry and I give thanks for it every day.

Ian Warburton, a local preacher in church

Then the big day came when my wish to obtain a note to preach came before Church Council and then on to the Local Preachers Meeting a few days later. It got through both these stages and on Palm Sunday 1992 I stood before a congregation for the first time as a Local Preacher On Note, moving to On Trial six months later.

Given my other commitments, it perhaps isn’t surprising that I needed almost the maximum five-year period to complete the sequence of satisfactory service reports and academic progress but the happy day on which my recognition service took place fell on Friday 9 May 1997. It was then that I realised how much I still had to learn and this process continues.

The changes that I’ve seen since 1997 include a much greater need for collaboration with others in preparation of services and greater reliance on technology.

I did experience a few challenges. I’m not a natural at speaking without notes and this continues to this day. Also, it is inevitable that anyone filling this type of responsibility will face a fair amount of criticism, both constructive and otherwise, and in my early days I found this difficult. But I discovered an aptitude for putting together services of varied content and was inspired by the range of old and new hymnody that is available.

I still enjoy service preparation and the fellowship that goes with taking my appointments.