Thursday, 20 April 2017

Video: sacrifices for my calling


Towards Ordained Ministry: Session Six

This post details my experience of Session Six of the Towards Ordained Ministry course. See my previous posts about session onetwofour and five to find out what the TOM course is.
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Mission - Will you lead Christ’s people in proclaiming his glorious gospel, so that the good news of salvation may be heard in every place?

It was our final session, and although this was a great course, I was looking forward to having my Monday nights back! The odd thing about this last session was it was run by none other than Bishop Pete Broadbent! So having met the man for an all important interview the previous Wednesday, there he is again at the front of the lecture room. A bizarre amount of times to see a bishop in the space of a week, especially in the wake of my rector Lucy also doing a session! I half expected my DDO to walk through the door, to complete the set of priests involved in my discernment.

Pete was talking about mission. He said it was appropriate for a bishop, as "leading the church in mission" is one of the things for which we have bishops.

He started by describing the sort of context that we're working in for mission, which is one of non-traditional sacredness, "believing without belonging"; and also of course "more pluralist" within a diversity of faiths, especially in London. Our inheritance as future priests in the church is a trajectory of secular pluralism. At the local level, the common good can benefit from contributions from all faiths, but how it will go in the UK as a whole, what the future of the pluralism will look like, we can't know.

The rest of the session was based on Capital Vision 2020, which is the London Diocese's mission statement/strategy/idea/movement/premise...thing which is trying to innovate, create and support mission in the diocese but without reinventing the wheel so to speak.

A lot of my notes you can get from just browsing through the material available online about CV2020 itself, so here are few choice thoughts from +Pete as he went through.


  • He quipped that church planting was "not just HTB clones!"
  • He posed the question "are we a post-Christian society?" 
  • 'Growth' is not just numbers but the growth of individuals' discipleship, and community impact
  • The parochial system is odd but it still works; different in London of course
  • 'Church' = "baptism, Bible, Eucharist, prayer, fellowship" but community might not be called to be 'church'
  • London isn't very good at ecumenism
  • CofE isn't very good at lay ministries such as evangelism, healing and teaching
  • "The DNA of believing that God is going to make thing happen is crucial"
  • He posed the question "is 'mega-church' good for us and is it working?"

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The previous sessions were:

Authority - Do you accept the discipline of this Church and give due respect to those in authority?
The Bible Do you accept the holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
Doctrine - [I missed this one] Do you believe the doctrine of the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it, and in your ministry will you expound and teach it?
Ministry Will you be a faithful servant in the household of God, after the example of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve?
Spirituality Will you be diligent in prayer, in reading holy Scripture, and in all studies that will deepen your faith, and fit you to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Towards Ordained Ministry: Session Five

This post details my experience of Session Five of the Towards Ordained Ministry course. See my previous posts about session onetwo and four to find out what the TOM course is.
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Spirituality - Will you be diligent in prayer, in reading holy Scripture, and in all studies that will deepen your faith, and fit you to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel?

The person who was supposed to take this session phoned the organiser an hour beforehand to say they were ill and wouldn't make it; so Neil himself had to do itRevd Neil Evans is the Director of Ministry for the London Diocese, and it was encouraging that 20 years of ministry stood him in good stead to cover the entire topic of spirituality in ministry with only an hour's notice!

He started with the classic reassurance that we all struggle and wrestle with prayer, and there is no such thing as a expert in prayer, followed by the hackneyed but true "pray as you can, not as you can't".
Image result for christian monks praying

A bit of background on him and his experience of prayer started with his training at Mirfield, where he learnt monastic prayer, which is regular, communal and supportive. Once he left the community, he had to find a new way to pray, and he explained three ways he has found useful.







One is apostolic, or 'on the go', which is living in a prayerful way, going out in the world but always being firmly based in an underlying spirituality.



Image result for anglican daily officeThe second is the daily office which is tool that you can hold onto, and he has found it has rooted him; morning prayer is a great place to start the day and go out from; and not being able to choose favourite chunks of scripture is good, being given them means you engage more thoroughly.




And the third is an annual retreat, always finding space for it every year.
Image result for spiritual retreat

He asked us to discuss with our neighbours "What does prayer mean to you?" and the answers that were fed back included
- liturgical vs charismatic prayer has a difference for each of us
- the acronym PACTS is useful - Pause, Adore, Confess, Thank, Supplicate
- there are examples to follow in the Bible
- working in a church really cements the difference of private vs corporate
- pastoral, with people in the moment
- discipline as there is no substitute
- bring everything to God including the mess
- we don't have to pretend and yet we are still loved
- there is space for spiritual gifts as different expressions of awe
- not just speaking to God as Father but also approach as Creator
- counter to common perception, it is not just asking but more being in the presence

There are very different ways to pray but one can't disagree with somebody's else's way - it's not wrong. just not right for me. Church buildings soak up prayer and cathedrals are saturated with it, but the key to any type is 'is God being honoured'? The "gift of the CofE" is that that can be done in many traditions! If God is worshipped, disagreeing with a tradition is meaningless.

So what works for somebody comes from who they are; the sort of person I am invites me to pray in a certain way. All personality preferences are valid (though you can take it too far) as God will not desert us where ever we are. We are entering into the presence of God, putting ourselves in the way of God, by and for finding ourselves in that presence.

There are dangers in praying, pitfalls we can easily fall into, such as telling God what to do, avoiding getting things done ourselves, and also in such environments like prayer groups, falling into gossiping. There's also a lot of complexity around prayers for healing, and Neil only touched briefly on the subject, basically saying that miracles do happen but there are no simple answers and ultimately it boils down to "Thy will be done".


Image result for praying

He moved on to 'ministerial development review' and the question of how one went about judging a priest's prayer life, but basically, in an intangible way, people do just 'know' if their priest is praying. More tangible measurements are questions like 'who supports you in your prayer life?' which he posed to us and some answers that came back included:
- spiritual director
- having a day off
- I said my agnostic/atheist boyfriend and a woman across the room empathised that her similar husband had also helped her
- tools eg emails, apps - structure
- other broken people you can't fix
- room mates who are also 'bad at prayer', collectively providing accountability
- church prayer ministry team
- being around someone who is themselves disciplined, by example or 'osmosis' as it were
- social media - both friends and strangers

We finished with as form of praying scripture (Mark 9.2-29) which wasn't really for me but I did get an interesting moment or two out of it.


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The previous sessions were:

Authority - Do you accept the discipline of this Church and give due respect to those in authority?
The Bible Do you accept the holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
Doctrine - [I missed this one] Do you believe the doctrine of the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it, and in your ministry will you expound and teach it?
Ministry Will you be a faithful servant in the household of God, after the example of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve?

The last one will be:
Mission - Will you lead Christ’s people in proclaiming his glorious gospel, so that the good news of salvation may be heard in every place?

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Going to see the bishop


For those who are astute, you'll notice that this meeting and video took place on Ash Wednesday and I am posting this quite a way into Lent. Apologies for that; I'll lay no excuses.

But it does mean I can tell you the good news that I have a BAP date! I'm all set to go in June, so these last few weeks have setting off on the epic adventure of the paperwork involved, which I might cover in a later post. I'm also arranging to go see colleges, so it's feeling really  real!

So watching this video several weeks later in the knowledge of the certainty of my BAP, here are the points I want to remind myself of:

  • Remember that BAP examiners are real people rather than the 2D constructs in my head
  • I should probably practice one-on-ones a bit more
  • Make sure I prep reading my paperwork beforehand
  • Reacquaint myself with 'what a priest is'
  • Work on my answer to 'where are you ecclesiastically'

I'll hopefully be catching up with a few more posts soon.