PCC Member of the Month: Maureen Hobbs
This is the latest in our series of pen portraits of members of St Chad’s Parochial Church Council and features the Vicar, the Rev Preb Maureen Hobbs
Pattingham ho! to be priest, vicar – and, now, an enabler
It has been suggested that since it is now 10 years or so since I came to Pattingham, there may be parishioners who do not know much (or have forgotten?) about my former existence . . . so here goes!
Born in the West Country (at Westward Ho!), an only child, I did most of my growing up in East London. At school I developed an interest in Modern Languages and a passion for choral singing. A degree in Linguistic and Regional Studies from the University of Surrey, specialising in Russian, French and International Relations led to an early career with GCHQ – the Government’s ‘listening’ headquarters in Cheltenham. It was at university that I began to acknowledge that my attendance at church was more to do with faith than with music – although the two have always been closely associated for me.
When I married, a move to Kent meant a change of career direction. I joined PER: Professional and Executive Recruitment, still in the Civil Service, but providing commercial recruitment services to companies all over North Kent. This continued after we moved to Oxfordshire – only now my clients were companies in the ‘Sillicon Valley’ of Reading – Maidenhead.
Sadly my marriage came to an end but my involvement with my local church in a village in Oxfordshire grew stronger as I discovered the joys of being a Churchwarden. When I expressed some interest in a theology course, my then vicar challenged me to consider whether I might be experiencing a call to ordained ministry. At first the idea seemed utterly fanciful but the more I thought about it, the more it grew, until I could ignore it no longer.
After some ups and downs as I negotiated the C of E’s discernment process, I eventually went to Cambridge to study for two years at Westcott House, before moving to the Lichfield Diocese to be ordained in 1997. I served a curacy at St Chad’s in Shrewsbury and then in 2001 took on my first parish: Baschurch with Weston Lullingfields and Hordley, situated between Shrewsbury and Oswestry. Subsequently, in 2005, I was elected as a Representative to General Synod – completing two five-year terms of office and seeing through the legislation (amongst many other things) for the consecration of women as Bishops.
I also took on the role of Diocesan Adviser for Women’s Ministry (DAWM) which gave me a seat on the Bishop’s Staff –and meant I got an early notification that the post of Priest-in-Charge of Pattingham and Patshull, coupled with that of Ministry Development Adviser was coming vacant.
This seemed to offer a good combination of responsibilities drawing on my pre- as well as my post-ordination experience and so I applied. The rest, as they say is history, except that my job titles have both now changed . . . I am now the Vicar of Pattingham etc., and recently have been ‘re-branded’ as a Ministry Development Enabler: make of that what you will!
I have enjoyed immensely being Rural Dean of Trysull for 10 years, and your Vicar – and intend to continue in that latter role for a couple more years, although planning for my retirement is now becoming more of a reality.