A year ago I started training for Ordained Local Ministry, and I thought that it would be good to let you know how it’s going. I often get asked, “How its going?” by folks at St Chrysostom’s and my reply is often uncommitted – mainly due to my shyness and reluctance to appear blasé. I’ve enjoyed the past year and would like to share some of the highlights.
Our training on the Southern North West Training Partnership is split into modules, and these are assessed as they progress. Last year I was looking at “Worship, Preaching and Pastoral Care” – and you may remember Andrew recording my sermon on the Feast of Christ the King last November. I also studied “Mission in Britain Today”, and “Learning Theologically Together”. Mission in Britain Today involved looking at God’s Mission to the World, and how we as a Church try to respond to that Mission. We looked at Fresh Expressions of Church, and we all became excited at the differing ways that congregations are trying to show God’s love to his creation. Learning Theologically Together was a difficult module for me – it examined how and my fellow students learn, and how congregations and groups within them learn. I found this to be a rather dry, over theoretical study, but, I’m sure as I continue to move on I will find its insights useful.
From January through to the end of April I was on Placement at St Ann’s in the city centre. This was a wonderful time – experiencing city centre ministry, seeing first hand how another parish operates, enjoying a different style of worship. However, there were also less enjoyable things such as singing choral evensong. I also had the experience of being part of an Alpha type study group, informal worship, and a faith centered discussion group. I really enjoyed this placement, and learned a lot from it; but, I was pleased to return to St Chrysostom’s after going on a Retreat in Leeds led by Fr Ken Leech – a learned and experienced priest who has visited us many times and who worshipped with us as a student.
Because I was doing some of Year 1 and some of Year 2 of the training this last year I had to squeeze other things into the schedule. This meant that every 6 weeks or so I was away from Church on Residential weekends. The year came to a close in July with an 8 day Summer School in Chester. This was a very busy week full of lectures, workshops and fieldtrips.
Summer School was the climax to the year. All Anglican Ordinands on the course came together. We finished off a Module which had been begun the year before by the others, and we looked at how people of other faiths view Christianity. Those who were in the real Year 2 of the course also gave us presentations of how the Church engages with Society in their own Parish settings, which was a very stimulating experience – and it is something that I must reflect on at St Chrysostom’s.
The summer school was a very busy time, and days were packed out with lectures and seminars. The staff were amused at the way that we behaved when we two Clerical tailors visited us, and suddenly there was a realization that Ordination for some of us is less than a year away. Folk tried on clerical shirts for the first time, and there was much hustle and bustle around the stole embroiderer’s stall. One lecturer remarked that he would like to see as much animation when it comes to looking at schemes of work – but as one of the most animated stole enquirer was a colleague of his we weren’t sure as to who he was talking about!
We all – staff and students – let our hair down on the last night of the summer school with a pantomime produced by the final year students and in which I played a cameo role. It roughly followed the story of Cinderella, but with many “in jokes” and jocular jibes at staff members – and they were all still smiling at us the next morning at Chapel.
The year has had many good moments in it; I’ve made good friends and have enjoyed insights into other traditions and ways of looking at Theology. It has been good to get to grips with studying again after so long. It has been a wonderful experience to reflect on the riches and joys that we all have at St Chrysostom’s. We often speak on the course from our own tradition and perspective, and I realize how blessed we are here as a Parish.
I’m sure that this year will pass very quickly – and I shouldn’t be away from the Parish so often this year as I was last. I’ll keep you posted as to how things progress. The course ends in May next year.