Dec 8, 2019
In this episode, I have the honor of interviewing Deacon Michael Holford.
Michael grew up just south of Queensland's capital, Brisbane, in Australia. He comes from a slightly religious family, with a Presbyterian mother and an atheist father, but seldom entered a church as a child.
He converted to Christianity as a teenager at a local evangelical "Plymouth" brethren assembly. Baptized by immersion at 18, while also pursuing an education in ecological science.
Michael’s first job out of university was assisting an agricultural consultant as a "cop scout": monitoring crops for pests and disease, data which would then be used to make spray recommendations. He worked for two consultancies in an assistant capacity, before landing his first full-time position as a Horticultural Crop Consultant. Michael worked in the agricultural field of research for a couple of years, before landing a job back in Brisbane in the certified organic industry, where he has been for most of the last 8 years.
He picked up further studies and experience in agronomy and biosecurity along the way.
Michael’s first exposure to the Independent Sacramental Movement was way back in 2005. While at university, his studies in science, especially evolutionary biology, saw him questioning his evangelical faith tradition. In a search for answers, he stumbled across Orthodox Christianity and loved what he saw: beauty, reverence, and timeless ritual. He almost became Orthodox in 2002, but his girlfriend, Barb, now his wife, didn't share his interest in Orthodoxy. He compromised, and ended up at a wonderful Anglo-Catholic parish: this parish, part of the "Forward in Faith" movement, was kind of like a "church within a church" - traditionalist Anglicans just within the official Anglican communion.
His parish priest blended in a wonderful and engaging way, catholic worship and conviction, evangelical preaching, with just a dash of charismatic spirit. When he was consecrated at the hands of extra-diocesan bishops, the archbishop of Brisbane had him removed from his post as rector. Michael and his wife followed him into the "continuing" Traditional Anglican Communion, where they stayed for most of five years, even receiving permission of the bishop to preach as a layperson. It was this Anglo-Catholic bishop that first encouraged Michael to pursue theological education.
He received his theological qualification at a Wesleyan institute, Nazarene Theological College in Brisbane, known for its ecumenical spirit; for most of his assignments he drew heavily on Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican sources. He was also drawn at this time to the worship and spirituality of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), which eased his traditionalist sensibilities.
In 2015 Michael stumbled across a local mission parish of the United Ecumenical Catholic Church and was intrigued. What began as casual, occasional visits became regular attendance by 2017, and by the end of 2018, our priest raised with me the question of ordination.
Michael was ordained a deacon in the church of God on the 13th of January 2019, at the hands of Bishop Ron Langham of the Ecumenical Catholic Church of Australia. He has been tasked with supporting the ministry of our priest, Reverend Narelle, and he has been bringing the blessed sacrament to friends on the northern outskirts of the city. He has received mentoring and further education by an experienced and theologically astute priest in his communion: who is filling in the gaps of Michael’s Wesleyan studies, and emphasizing sacramental theology. After meandering through every form of Christianity there is, Michael has finally found a spiritual home.
We talked about:
This podcast is hosted by Bishop David Oliver Kling and is sponsored by The Community of Saint George (The Young Rite).