So I have a date for BAP, and plenty to do to prepare in advance. An email has already arrived with 13 attachments and that’s not to mention the paperwork that came in the post… next weeks task I think..
Anyway I got to talk to the DDO this week who gave me some helpful feeedback from the Bishop. mostly good but some constructive criticism too. None of it surprising but the same old things about not spending time in the traditional church. So what follows is rather a rant and probably something I need to get out of my system, (apologies now!)
Just to lay it out, I was brought up in a traditional anglican church, I worshipped in traditional agnlican churches for 30 odd years. Not only that but I have spent time involved in church youth groups, and serving on a PCC. I have helped organise events, socials and been involved in admin. All within more traditional churches. I am not a novice in the more traditional church. However because I have spent the last 2 years in a fresh expression church (part of the CofE I would like to add) that seems to be a problem.
My time with the Bishop was interesting and enjoyable, but a definite grilling (which was expected!). I felt I had to fight my corner rather, on some of the more contemporary areas of my church life (again somewhat expected), and I had the opportunity towards the end to ask about opportunities for pioneering ministry (for the benefit of the lovely David at The Vernacular Vicar I mean “Pioneering” in quotes, as in the CofE model for doing something ‘a bit different’ and not pioneering in the sense that all ministers are pioneers, (which they are.. ;) )
I thought this was productive and was inspired by some of his responses. However he still pointed out that whilst studying (assuming I get through, this will be the part time study from home option) I will not be able to stay within my own church, but will need to go to another church in order to get opportunities to train (fair enough but not enough reason to permanently move my family to another church) and that I need to be more versed in the traditional bearing in mind I am going into Anglican minsitry. Well, you may think that is fair enough but all the way along this process I have talked about being part of a more contemporay church and that I am interested in new forms of church. There is a route to train as a pioneer minister, but for various reasons I didn’t take this. Most people I spoke to about it said it was very limiting and that there were few jobs at the end of it for ‘pioneer ministers’ which means that you are then looking for a more contemporary role along with everyone else who has trained, but you are already one step behind them because you haven’t done the more general training… see my dilmemna? However having not taken this route it is then assumed that you are wanting to go into the more general/traditional priestly role. And at every turn I have had to get experience or read up on the areas I am lacking in. Fair enough, that isn’t my problem. My problem is that then they try to make you fit into their square shaped hole, when you are actually star shaped. Not an easy fit. And I am rebelling against it! All my star points are acting like little legs, kicking back against the square… (ok getting a bit weird here, but you get my point.) So… I didn’t take the pioneer route – my own decision, but I could say I was following their advice and so now they aren’t able to hear anything I say outside of their little box. Responses like these are not uncommon:, ‘yes well thats all fine, but you will be in a more traditional church’ or ‘yes, thats fine, but your church is not like any other’… that kind of thing. And for the record it is like some others and there should be more of them. grrrr…
So, I am stuck. Do I just go ahead and continue to fight my corner, or do I seriously go back and redo all of this under the pioneer banner? I know I am supposed to be in the CofE, of that I am sure, but I refuse to be forced into their mould when clearly that is not what God is wanting me to do…
I would love to hear from people who have been through this, expecially women, and especially those who have gone down the pioneer route… anyone got any contacts I can speak to?