Revd Dr Melanie Marshall joins Merton as first female Chaplain

The Revd Dr Melanie Marshall has been appointed as the college's Associate Chaplain and Career Development Researcher, becoming the first woman to hold a chaplaincy at Merton. Mel, who is currently Chaplain of Lincoln College, will take on her new role in September, succeeding The Revd Dr Jarred Mercer.

Mel, who was raised with her brother in the north of Aberdeenshire by "an 80s feminist single mum", says her "noisy, clannish, loving extended family" proved to be "a great preparation for being a priest: You get used to what a shared life means - frustration, compromise, forgiveness, and laughter."

Merton already has a special place in Mel's heart, since during her time studying at Christ Church, her DPhil supervisor was Rhiannon Ash, Tutor in Classics and Professor of Roman Historiography; she cherishes "many happy memories of festive guest nights and enlivening conversation in her rooms."

Mel says that worship at Merton is something she is really looking forward to:

"Simon and his team have done amazing things with Chapel life - it's the envy of Oxford. Most of us cut corners with prayer when left to our own devices. The habit of praying together is a huge gift, and the joy it brings is often a lovely surprise."

Reflecting on her new role, she says:

"The most important thing an Associate Chaplain can do is to help people explore ways to live that are different from those the ambient culture assumes and pushes on us. The capitalist ethos is ubiquitous and seductive. So many people never have the chance to consider an alternative. Luckily, at College we have world enough and time to really chew those problems over. What is the good life? If we don't even ponder the question, it's likely we'll end up living a bad one. "

Welcoming her appointment, the Chaplain, The Revd Canon Dr Simon Jones, said:

"I’m delighted that Mel will be joining us in September as Associate Chaplain. She brings with her a wealth of chaplaincy experience from Lincoln where she successfully engaged with many members of the College community. At a time when Covid-19 is requiring us to re-evaluate much of what we do, and how we do it, I’m very much looking to thinking through these challenges and opportunities with Mel as we work together to serve the whole College community."