Revd Andrew Ashdown
Anglican Priest. Ordained Deacon in 1990. Priest in 1991
I was brought up in Zimbabwe of Missionary parents during the Rhodesian war. After completing my education in England, I spent a while working in banking in the City of London, before going to spend 2 years as a volunteer Teacher at a Christian school in a remote part of Central India. This was a very formative experience of further encounter with other cultures and other faiths. On returning to England I studied Theology at King’s College London before training for ordination.
Since being ordained in 1990, I have served in parishes in Yorkshire, Surrey and Hampshire, and also worked for a time as the Regional Desk Officer for South Asia, for the Anglican Mission Agency USPG. (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel). Over the years, I have travelled widely throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and for a while, held responsibility for Diocesan links with West Africa.
But throughout the past 20 years, I have had a particular passion for the Middle East and its people, regularly leading groups to the region, and visiting privately. Some of those experiences are illustrated in my book published in 2007 by Christians Aware: ‘The Stones Cry Out: Reflections from Israel and Palestine.’ My wider responsibilities have nurtured a deep interest in inter-faith issues and I have been a member of Interfaith networks in Hampshire and the South of England.
Since 2014, I have undertaken 5 visits to Syria: travelling around the country; meeting with faith and community leaders, and meeting with members of every section of society. In 2016, I led a group of Peers and Faith leaders on a visit to the country and became the first British group to visit Aleppo since the beginning of the conflict.
After 25 years in Parish ministry, I stepped aside in order to undertake PhD research into Christian-Muslim relations in Syria. This research will involve several more prolonged visits to Syria. Meanwhile, I continue to assist with services throughout Hampshire, and in my local benefice.
In my ministry, I have a strong sense of God’s presence amongst and love for all people. I believe that we are called, by everything we are and do, to witness to Christ’s presence and love, and the hope and light that he invites us to receive, particularly where it is hard to see or is unknown, knowing that he has always got there before us! At the heart of being strengthened for this ministry that belongs to all Christians, is the sustaining worship and prayer of the community of faith, the Church, and it always a privilege to be a part of that worldwide community of faith, wherever it is.