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Meet our new Associate Archdeacon

Revd Mike Gilbert

I’ve returned to Sheffield

I was brought up in Sheffield and became a Christian here. I had moved away for ten years but came and did my curacy at St John’s Chapeltown. I served as Vicar of Brightside with Wincobank before going on to be a Church Army lecturer at the Wilson Carlile College of Evangelism in Sheffield.   

I’ve been the Rector of Eyam for the last twelve years in the Peak District and I’ve loved it, but it was the right time to leave and this role just felt like a good fit for me, because Ecclesfield is where I did my curacy and incumbency, and Hallam is where I first met the Lord forty years ago. It feels like coming home.

I grew up in a Christian household but came to faith in my teens

Our parents worshipped in a Methodist church, which I was part of growing up. However, quite quickly in my teens I discovered rock climbing, which was far more exciting!

During sixth form a friend of mine at school invited me to church, but I didn’t find this a particularly appealing idea. He invited me to a youth group and from there I forged new friendships and within a few months I realised I wasn’t totally sure what they got, but I wanted it, and fell into faith and into love with God, very quickly.

I’m very grateful for the foundation of faith that they helped to build.

I wasn’t initially interested in being ordained

I perhaps slightly naively thought I could test my faith by going to a secular university to study theology. I thought my faith would get a good battering, and if it’s not true, then the quicker I get rid of it, the better. If it was true, then it would be refined by all the battering it gets. I came out of university still a Christian!

It also seemed to me quite clear that the gospel was good news for the poor and I saw around me a lot of thriving churches, but none of them seemed to be really reaching the poor. I ended up in Hong Kong working with a lady called Jackie Pullinger and amongst drug addicts, which was a wonderful and foundational time for me. One of my best men was an ex-Triad gangster, who became the holiest, gentlest and kindest man I’ve ever met.

It was in Hong Kong that I sensed a deep call to be a missionary, and it was that real sense of call to minister the gospel in England. I became a Baptist youth pastor in a city church in Leeds, but during that time various people said, “you ought to go into ministry.” My reply was, “I thought doing youth work was ministry”, but I started the process and got a place at Spurgeon’s College to be a Baptist minister. However, I had a real sense of God calling me to be an Anglican, which was a culmination of various inklings and my sense of spiritual journey really, until I came back to Sheffield. I was ordained in Sheffield Cathedral in 1994.

I want to encourage others in my new role

When the role was first explained to me as a position to support, mentor and guide people I thought back to when I started out as a Vicar and how I wish I had had somebody like that to help. It is my hope that I can be used to serve the churches in the Hallam and Ecclesfield deaneries and to encourage the leadership – both clergy and lay.

I want to give people a sounding board where they can explore options, difficulties, joys and challenges together and bring some of my experience to help.

I’m married with four children

I’m married to Jenny and all of my children are in their 20s, with the exception of one who is a teenager. I have a great passion for rock climbing and have just come back from walking in the Highlands. I really love ultrarunning, so 50, 60, 70 mile races is what really floats my boat. I like being in the mountains, on bikes, climbing, running and walking. I also have an eclectic taste in music and I have to confess to being a Sheffield Wednesday fan!