MEET THE STAFF


This page is about the circuit's current staff. You can find out which ministers have been appointed to the circuit (and its predecessors) from 1815 to the present day. There is a checklist in Our Circuit's History.




Rev Sonia Hicks

Rev Sonia Hicks Sonia worked as a Bank Clerk for four and a half years before training for the Methodist ministry at Queen's Theological College, Birmingham. Sonia and her husband Conrad (who is also a Methodist minister) were then stationed to the High Wycombe Circuit for two years followed by four years in the Watford Circuit.

In 1998, the family went to serve in the Jamaica District of the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas. Having job-shared whilst in the UK, both were appointed as Superintendents in neighbouring circuits. Sonia was assigned to the Manchioneal Circuit with pastoral charge of five rural congregations.

After five years, Sonia and her family moved to Ireland where they spent nine years working in the Dublin North Circuit in the Republic of Ireland.

Sonia and Conrad have three adult children: Nathan, Olivia and Nyasha. Nathan is currently working as a Cover Supervisor in an East London primary school. Olivia is completing a doctorate in Comics Studies at Dundee University. Nyasha is a Modern Language teacher in a Birmingham Academy.

Conrad is presently stationed in the Hants Surrey Borders Circuit as well as serving as one of the Assistant Chairs of the South-East District.

Sonia is the Superintendent Minister with pastoral charge for Ledger's Road, Burnham, Cookham Rise and Woodlands Park Churches.



Rev Julie Underwood

Rev Julie Underwood

I am a Supernumerary Methodist minister who has been invited to work part-time for a year with the St Mark's Crescent congregation from September 2017.

My home is in Staines where I live with my husband, Malcolm, and we are frequently visited by our 3 children and 7 grandchildren, so it is not a quiet place!

I was ordained in 1999 and served as a circuit minister in three circuits — Richmond & Hounslow, Woking & Walton, and Sutton — before "sitting down" (in Methodist parlance!) in 2014. During my training and travels I have been involved with a few of the Thames Valley churches at various times and I look forward to perhaps renewing "old" acquaintances as well as meeting and sharing with new folk.



Ms Naomi Sharp

Ms Naomi Sharp Naomi worked with OMF International (an international and interdenominational Protestant Christian Missionary Society, formerly Overseas Missionary Fellowship) in Cambodia for ten years, teaching music, and sharing in the mission work of the OMF team, eventually returning to the UK through ill health.

She then worked with BMS (British Missionary Society) World Mission in Birmingham, training personnel prior to them serving overseas.

She came to the Thames Valley Circuit from the Huddersfield Methodist Circuit where she was a lay minister for six years.

You may spot Naomi out and about on her bike, which is how she enjoys getting around! Indoors, she is happy with her nose in a library book, baking or listening to the radio.

Naomi joined the staff as Lay Worker (High Street).



Rev Margaret Dudley

Rev Margaret Dudley Margaret worked as a teacher first in Guildford and then Thanet between 1978 and 2002, finishing as Head of Faculty. This time included seven years in Whitstable as a full-time Youth and Community Worker, and as leader of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme in the area.

Through school and youth work, she qualified as a badminton coach and later as a fencing coach! After a career break to enable her to care for her mother, she returned to teaching in 2007, this time in a secure training centre.

Margaret is single with one surviving sibling. She and her sister Jennifer are both religious historians who share a lot of interests including a love of Guiding and for visiting Malta, which is an annual activity.

A lifelong Methodist, Margaret has held many posts in her various local churches and circuits, plus a time as District Secretary for worship among young people. Margaret has wide ecumenical experience, and has been heavily involved in leading and working in ecumenical youth projects. She has worked in town and city chaplaincy, and provided pastoral care in schools. After responding to the call to become a minister, she trained for the Methodist ministry at Wesley House in Cambridge. Margaret completed her training while in the Thames Valley Circuit, and was ordained and welcomed into full connexion at the Methodist Conference in Birmingham in 2014 (see the July / August 2014 Smaller Churches Newsletter — pdf download).

Her hobbies include playing the keyboard and "prayerful painting" (which uses art and creativity for healing). Since coming to the Thames Valley she has joined the Trefoil Guild and enjoys regular Guiding activities.

Margaret has pastoral charge of the congregations at Windsor, Old Windsor, Eton Wick, Colnbrook & Poyle and St Mark's Crescent.



Rev Mindy Bell

Rev Mindy BellI am a Methodist presbyter. Before coming to the Thames Valley Circuit I served 10 years in the uniquely ecumenical Milton Keynes Circuit. There I looked after a variety of congregations and enjoyed getting to know the people. I find leading worship, teaching and pastoral work is a privilege, a great joy and a challenge which I relish. I took delight in working with others to shepherd some new expressions of church into being while in the Milton Keynes Circuit, including Cook at Chapel: a Fresh Expression of Church, an annual Blessing of Animals Service, Youth Movie Night, and Cross Purposes (an ecumenical youth-led congregation).

In 2005 I arrived in the UK with my husband, ready to serve for a year through the British American Methodist Programme (BAMP). I enjoyed the work of ministry and as we felt fulfilled by our lives here, we chose to stay in the UK. In 2008 I was ordained and welcomed into full connexion at The Methodist Conference in Scarborough. There are many things I appreciate about the (British) Methodist Church and chief among them is the teamwork style of ministry to which both lay people and clergy contribute.

As a child growing up in the metropolitan Los Angeles area, I followed my parents and grandparents in attending the First United Methodist Church of La Puente. It was there as a youth that I started taking on leadership roles, serving as the Youth Leader when I was still in secondary school. I studied Anthropology at University and, after graduating, joined the Mission Intern Programme of the United Methodist Church, where I served for three years in social justice organisations in two settings unfamiliar to me — Hong Kong and Gainesville, Georgia, USA. After this I spent some time as a faith-based community organiser with local NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and then went to seminary at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Mindy Bell and her family

My life-long interest in cultures and travel served me well when adjusting to life in the UK. Though we (mostly) speak a common language there have been many cultural adjustments, but I like to celebrate our God-given diversity.

Life has changed a lot for Ted and me since we arrived with two suitcases each at Heathrow airport. We now have two children, Morgan aged 5 (when we came to the Thames Valley) and Cyrus aged 3, who keep us busy but amused. Ted is a secondary school maths teacher. In our free time we enjoy activities with our family. The adults in the family share a great fondness for Radio 4, though the kids prefer music. I especially enjoy cooking and creative crafts where I get to get my hands messy alongside my children. When I have time to myself I enjoy reading, knitting, photography and I came into the circuit looking forward to setting up my new wood turning lathe at the manse before my appointment started on 1st September 2015!

Rev Melinda (Mindy) Bell has pastoral responsibility for the Slough churches of St Andrew's and Hampshire Avenue and High Street Maidenhead.



Deacon Andy Packer

Deacon Andy Packer Andy was born in Okehampton (Devon) where he spent the first 30 years of his life. His father was a carpenter and both grandfathers were farmers, hence his love of being outdoors. He is married to Lynn and they have two daughters, Leanne and Maxine. Lynn (in Andy's words "the better half of our partnership") was born in Rainham (Essex). In 1983/4 she spent a year at Cliff College before training in Family and Community Care in Plymouth.

Andy's career includes working as a Builder's Labourer (while learning a few skills), as a Cheese Factory Operative, and for ten years at a Builder's Merchants where he qualified as a Wood Machinist ... and a few other things!

Andy Packer and his family

In 1992 he left his beloved Okehampton and Dartmoor and trained for the Diaconal Ministry at Westhill and Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham. He came to the Thames Valley after completing ten years in the Peterborough Circuit after previous appointments in Telford (Shropshire) and Bristol.

Andy was brought up in a strong Methodist tradition. However, his involvement with a number of denominations over the years has emphasised for him the importance of being "Christian". He has been involved with youth, schools, Chaplaincy, community, outreach, all with a strong ecumenical basis.

Andy describes himself as easy-going, friendly, open, reflective, someone who enjoys meeting people and always ready for a laugh. He loves the "great outdoors" including walking, photography and bird-watching. He loves watching sport when possible, especially rugby union and cricket. He is also a follower of Man U.

Andy is concentrating his efforts on outreach in the community. Initially this was in the Chalvey and Manor Park areas of Slough, but has now been extended to include other parts of the circuit — in particular Woodlands Park, where he is working alongside Sonia.