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Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:34 am
by Ernest
Sometimes we feel that our vocation in life is a bit confused. Many of us work in one job life long, and while it might be a job, it might well be a vocation for a particular type of employment. For instance Nurses and Doctors are described as having a vocation to their roles. And Ministers of all faiths also display signs of vocations to their roles.

But the vocation can change and many people work in roles that they don't particularly like, but have little choice due to the lack of opportunity or skills to change things. A job is a means to an end - it puts food on the table and provides some sort of security, but perhaps with little hope for the future. Unless they take a risk and change direction, gain the education and skills they need to progress, which might eventually put them in the right role - a vocation for what they do.

In employment law there appears to be a twin track approach to career advancement. Further or Higher education or the so called "Vocational Route". This is where some one learns the skills necessary for perhaps a technical role such as Electrician, Plumber, Brick Layer or so on. Regarding as a "Working Class" pathway to employment (if such classes still exist), but one which is often sneered at by the professions which require rigorous academic achievement to succeed and equp them for their profession.

In the Church, there is a great rush towards bringing more Clergy on from deprived backgrounds, educating and equipping them for their role - as the cry of "discrimination" against those from such backgrounds exists? Evidenced from the fact that many Clergy appear to be from White Middle Class backgrounds, who've benefited from higher education and perhaps regarded as the "First Class Clergy" we need to be our "Management Class" such as Deans, Arch Deacons and Bishops. And traditionally that might have been how things were done and still are "privileged" individuals progress, while other Clergy are content with Parish Ministry.

The great leveller is the training of those lay people who offer for Lay Ministry, many of those without further or higher education are able to cope with and succeed in training at degree level, which once attracted a degree, but in general is now recognised as just vocational training, formation and sufficient theological and ministry development to be able to work in their role, and a concentration on pastoral care. While this role is being developed, many feel left behind by projects designed to increase their profile and deployability into wider roles, particularly due to an increasing shortage of active Clergy.

But stipendiary roles are generally not available, volunteers are the way forward and the church also makes increasing use of Non-Stipendiary Clergy to fill gaps.

But where does the vocation come from for all of this. I am content in Parish Ministry and would resist being deployed away from my parish - there is enough to do in the parish, without wandering off to the "Estates Ministry" which is being proposed by some dioceses to make greater and wider use of lay ministry.

I am not a believer that things should stay the same, but wonder if consent is often ignored when people are subtly pressured to consider a vocational pathway that they don't feel comfortable with.

I have said no to wider deployment as I can see opportunities, which are currently being developed locally to minister in the community where I live and belong.

I think that it is right to be asked, but not to be pressured as some are to move to a place, because there are exciting opportunities for evangelism there, depriving the parishes that nurtured their ministry vocation of their services.

What do you think?


Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:23 am
by Joyce
"I think that it is right to be asked, but not to be pressured as some are to move to a place, because there are exciting opportunities for evangelism there, depriving the parishes that nurtured their ministry vocation of their services.

What do you think?

I think you're right, Ernest. Ministry is needed by everybody. God knows all needs and it's up to Him to do the calling and the sending.His choice of whom He calls and where to send them should not be diverted.
Humans should not put pressure on those who know what and where their calling is.


Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:18 am
by Pam
I think if you know where God is calling you, you know. If you're not sure, then being given a steer like a suggestion to work in a wider area can be really helpful.

I've been watching the sudden discovery of 'Estates Ministry' in the C of E with a degree of scepticism, because I know people who have been ministering on housing estates for years without the C of E taking much notice at all. I hope those people are being listened to about what they feel is really needed.

There is, without a doubt, a bias towards higher education in training for ordination, with higher qualifications being sought at degree or diploma level. I think the ordained people in a parish, whatever their role in the church, are still expected to be the 'theology professionals'. I was asked some difficult questions when I was a curate by people who thought I was an expert - I always stressed that I wasn't an expert, but I did at least know the broadly Christian way of thinking about various topics, and could form my own opinion with a degree of confidence after writing numerous essays!

Since being an active lay person in my church, I have always thought that lay training should follow a clear 'pathway' towards theology qualifications at different levels. This would be incredibly hard to organise, though, since each Diocese runs the lay training which is appropriate for their own area.


Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:07 pm
by Joe Parrish
Over in the US the requirement to move parishes when one is beginning seminary toward ordination is pretty much official and mandatory. And deacons are more or less mandated to move when a new Vicar is coming to their parish. I guess this is from the example of Jesus continuously moving from place to place. However, one of my early heroes was a priest who had at one time led the Boy Scouts in a large parish, was ordained in his 70's, and he served there until his passing in his mid eighties. So the 'hard and fast' rules are indeed sometimes bent just a bit, and for good cause, I believe. Sometimes, oftentimes, taking up our cross and following Christ can take various pathways. I never expected to be living and serving at Anglican parishes in Antigua, but here I am...


Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:55 am
by Ernest
I suspect that my experience of discerning a vocation is flavoured by what happened over the discernment process and the disappointment I had when I was considered not suitable for ordination training. And the follow up, which was abysmal.

When we started training for Lay Ministry the Bishop spoke in general terms about LLM/Readers needing to accept that they should make themselves available for wider ministry, not just in the parish setting. He talked to us about the challenge of planned huge developments in housing across Kent, many of which have come to fruition and the diocese has created whole new ministry teams, funded by the Church Commissioners to cope with the influx of people.

This would mean relocating for many of us, which I for one was reluctant to do and remain so. I want to move closer to my parish, but that is an aspiration which house prices is currently hampering.

When I was licensed I asked for my license to cover a particular area of ministry in a Christian Cafe, which coped with supporting many of the alone, deprived and with mental health problems. This ministry was run by a friend who was a distinctive deacon (NSM) who was licensed for that ministry as a "Community Deacon" that was something in my own area, outreach and worked for a while. But when she retired that ministry came to a natural end. I still go once a month, but others have stepped into to continue it.

I was challenged recently when going through the process for PTO in having a Ministry Development Review with my Incumbent, which should have been with the area dean, but as he and I don't get on (he was my placement Vicar) he delegated it to my incumbent. Questions asked included:

1. Do you want to continue after age 70 or retire?

2. If you remain active, how do you see your ministry developing in the next two years?

These questions go to the heart of vocation and where God may be taking you. I have had a vision of a community chaplaincy, which is a possibility. Churches together locally are now to explore those possibilities. The Kent Workplace Mission is keen to come onboard if we decide to do so and will provide training, accreditation and resources to support it. This is a project that went into the MDR when it went to the Warden of Readers and Bishop, and I expect it to be reflected in the permission to officiate which I will receive at our Arch Deaconery Lay Conference on 5th October.

I am really grateful for support for my ministry from the people in the parish and from my spouse, who put up with the years of uncertainty and than training and now ministry and my absence on residentials and retreats.

Got hasn't quite finished with me just yet, and probably won't do so until we hopefully meet face to face to discuss, what I have and have not done with the vocation that I received pretty late in life.


Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:23 pm
by Pam
I think there are two sides to discerning a vocation to a formal ministry - our own sense of calling, and the church's assessment of where we fit into the wider ministry picture. Sometimes our sense of calling runs ahead of the church! I was convinced God was calling me to be ordained, but always fell down on the question 'What form do you see your ministry taking?' I wouldn't have said 'Online ministry', because no such a thing existed at that point - yet here I am!

It sounds as if your sense of calling and the church's new ministry structures may be coinciding, so that's an exciting thing to explore.


Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:23 am
by Ernest
There are many changes proposed in Reader Ministry. I have received several magazines and booklets which give details of the proposals. On the ground here in Rochester Diocese they appear to be ahead of the game. But not all of the proposals make any sense.

My Vicar is a supporter of Lay Presidency, while I am not, but at least we can talk about it sensibly because he is very approachable and open to ideas. He thinks that the lay chaplaincy idea in the local area is a good one so is influencing thinking in the Churches together forum, which I was asked to join during the vacancy. Its really good to meet a range of Clerics and Laity involved and to eat and to pray together. Plans for an Evangelism event next year are in hand and we will all gather together for a service in our Church Grounds or the local park if the council will allow it for the service.

And I might even get to preach there, if the plans go ahead. An experience well outside my personal comfort zone, but exciting prospect as well.