For St Paul, it was the Road to Damascus, for Matt Woodcock, journalist and Oasis fan with high energy and low sperm count, it was on the A19 when he recognised God’s calling. God presented him with an offer he found impossible to refuse. His diary traces how that offer unfolds.
Becoming Reverend, from Church House Publishing, is a compelling and original account of how faith can work in the midst of a messy life, combining family, fertility, faith and friendship with the story of a divine – but unlikely – calling.
In his first book, also available as an ebook and Church House Publishing’s very first Audiobook, Matt lays bare his joys and struggles as he attempts to reconcile his calling as a vicar with his life as a party-loving journalist, footy-freak and incorrigible extrovert.
“This is a searingly honest book and a great read,” says Matt’s Urologist Graeme Urwin. “Some laugh out loud moments and some bits that left me a little moist-eyed. Respect to Matt for having the courage to speak so honestly about the infertility struggles he and Anna went through, and I am sure many men and women will find it helpful.”
The Revd Kate Bottley describes the diary as “refreshingly honest, frequently hilarious and genuinely moving”.
“Even if you think church isn’t for you – in fact, especially if you think that,” Kate says, “this book probably is.”
The Revd Kate Bruce, in her notes for book clubs reading the diaries, comments: “Matt Woodcock is a blokey kind of bloke. He’s not a socks with sandals sort of guy. This diary invites us into Woody’s story from journalist to vicar. It’s not always a pretty story. Irreverent, rude, funny, profound, messy and painful, this book takes you on an earthy journey with heavenly themes.
“You will laugh and ache at the same time. You will find God. Not a plastic, neat and tidy God, dashboard sized and predictable, but a God who sees Woody’s wildness and trumps it to infinity, and beyond. A God found on night club dancefloors; in the IVF clinic; propping up the bar; at the heart of bromances; in the midst of rows; in reconciling man hugs, and in unexpected corners… even in the Church.”
A former newspaper journalist, Matt Woodcock is now a Church of England minister in Hull. He puts on a sell-out beer festival in his church every year and walks real camels down Hull’s main shopping street at Christmas.
“Why God chose that day, that moment, that stretch of carriageway, I don’t know,” says Matt. “I wasn’t feeling particularly spiritual or anything… Suddenly my head began to swim and my stomach turned over. My Ford Fiesta became difficult to control. I pulled into a layby to try to compose myself. As strange as it sounds, I felt an overwhelming sense that God had something urgent he wanted to tell me. Either that or someone had spiked my Pot Noodle.”
Becoming Reverend: A Diary by Matt Woodcock, is published by Church House Publishing, priced £9.99 (ISBN 978 1 78140 010 4) and is available from all good booksellers or direct from www.becomingreverend.com – which also provides details of audiobook & ebook versions and a free downloadable Reading Group Guide.