The Future…

So… just before Christmas I found out that I will not be able to study at the
college I would like to go to next year. Technically, as I have chosen not to
go to residential college because of family commitments, I only have one choice
of college. This is the same for every Diocese as far as I am aware, for those
who can’t move for family or work commitments they provide one alternative,
which allows you to stay put for a while. And there is nothing wrong with my
local choice but I would just love to go to St Mellitus in London, which
offers a different sort of course and is generally more my sort of thing. For
various reasons my Bishop has said no. This is frustrating but I do not wish to
go into the whys and wherefores about this because whilst I do not agree with
much of what my Bishop says, he is still my Bishop and therefore my line of
authority in the church. I always said I would accept his decision and whilst I
am mulling that over, I do accept his authority.

So now I feel a bit lost. I was accepted for training last May and much has
happened since then. I chose to take a year break before studying, but now some
7 months later, having not spent much time thinking about my vocation (this may
seem odd but the process you go through requires much emotional energy and it has
been a joy not to have to continue in that vein for the entire 7 months) I seem
to be thrown back into it again. I have been really knocked by the decision
about my college. On top of that the vote against women Bishops has also
affected me far more than I thought it would. It’s fair to say that my Diocese
is not in favour of women Bishops: the Bishop voted against (and I know my
Bishop is anti too), of the 6 clergy, 3 voted against and of the 8 laity, 6
voted against. What made it seem worse still is that all of the women who were able
to vote, yes ALL of them, voted against. On top of that (whilst I don’t like
labels it is useful here) I come from the more charismatic persuasion, which it’s
fair to say is not exactly encouraged here. And this is the Diocese in which I
will have to study and work, most likely, for the next 7 years at least.

It is so tempting to off load and rant about various things but I don’t feel
that it would be fair or particularly appropriate and so I find myself rather
out on a wing, needing some clarity and encouragement but also feeling lost and
not sure which way to go. I could go back and re-do my discernment process on the
Pioneer Ministry route, (which would
probably allow me to go to St Mellitus but require more work and another delay), or I
could just carry on regardless and go to my locally nominated college; or I
could do something completely different…

I don’t doubt my calling at all, I know God called me to do this and at
every step we have asked him to shut the door if it isn’t right, but it’s still wide open, so I must be
here for a reason. I guess what I do doubt is whether it is right to continue
ahead at the moment and if so, on which path.

I should say that the process so far has been hugely eye opening and
worthwhile, so even if I don’t go ahead I know it has been an amazing
experience. There have been wonderful people I have met along the way who have
been hugely encouraging, not least my DDO who is an absolute gem and I can’t thank him enough.

And strangely, I do love this church. Warts and all… I grew up in the Church of England
and now I work within it. I can see how much influence it has and how much good
it does, I know there are faults and issues, but as a whole The Church (well,
it’s people) does such an amazing job in this nation and I want to be part of
that, I want to help shape that, I want to see communities transformed and
loved by their churches, I want to help The Church make a difference. But right
now I feel that maybe my calling is taking me outside of that and that makes me
a bit sad.

So here I am. Wondering what step to take. I know there’s only one person
who can show me and in this busy season finding significant prayer time is not
easy, so I hope over the coming weeks I will be able to sit down and really
seek God for the road ahead….