Some other stuff…//
Women in ministry
Of course one would hope that in this day and age being a woman would have no bearing on this process whatsoever, sadly though there are the odd pockets of misogyny within the church, thankfully it is the odd pocket, but they are there and I believe it’s better to acknowledge that than ignore it. Whatever you feel about women in ministry or feminism in general, you will undoubtedly come up against some issues at some point or other in your journey. I found it very useful to think about exactly what I felt about being a woman in church leadership in some depth so that I could easily articulate that, if necessary. I also advocate an approach of grace – arguing ones point from a position of frustration or anger is rarely, if ever, helpful. The Anglican Communion is vast and broad and encompasses a range of beliefs and ideals, and if selected, you will be working with people from various points across that range. Relating to those of a different view point with love and grace is a more positive and Christlike way forward than one of angry accusation. If you are being called to the CofE that means you will be a part of it, warts and all. So embrace it!!
Of course I am not saying to stand by and do nothing. If you are actively discriminated against because of your gender then do seek further advice. One person I spoke to had an incumbent who refused to entertain the idea that she might be called to ministry as he was so actively against women in ministry. It took years for her to take the next step to train for ordination, largely due to his attitude, which even then involved her leaving the church.
If this happens to you, and it is unusual these days, don’t just roll over and think well, I must be wrong. Get some impartial advice, seek out another Priest, or you can even contact your DDO direct, details should be on your diocesan website. It remains a difficult issue for some, but that is no reason why your own journey should be thwarted by one person.
In addition be aware of questions about getting married or having children (if applicable) or being forced down the route of ‘self-supporting’ ministry, because ‘your husband has a salary’ as it was phrased to one candidate. For some SSM is the right route but you should not expect to be guilted in to it, there is nothing wrong with earning a salary from ministry!
An Unsupportive Incumbent
In rare cases you may find that your incumbent is not supportive of your call. Now, let me say first off that I hope most of us have a good relationship with our Vicar and feel able to talk to them openly and without fear of reprisal, ridicule or rejection. However there are times where this is not the case, which could be for a number of reasons.
Now, if you have a good relationship with your incumbent and they advise you that they are unsure of your calling, it is up to you to weigh that up. Only you can know how your relationship works, perhaps they need to think about it more, perhaps they suggest to you some things to do first, or to get some experience. It may even be that they are right, so do think carefully. Only you can know how to deal with that situation. However if you feel that you are being treated unfairly you can get advice elsewhere. Don’t just be put off, if you feel you are being unfairly treated do talk to someone else, potentially another Priest or a diocesan Vocations Officers. Or you could find out about CofE vocations events and go along to one of them for more advice.
The DDO handbook (section 2) looks at disabilities of various forms and also the ‘Medical Book’ (which I sadly can’t access so you may need to ask about this). I advise reading this section and if necessary highlighting it to your DDO if they are unaware of any extra support available (which is likely). However even with support available it may be a challenge depending on your disability. One candidate (now, happily, ordained) who uses a wheelchair found the process at times incredibly difficult, facing significant obstacles, prejudice and lack of provision. This is a gifted and intelligent man with a masters degree and it saddens me that in this day and age that he has had to face such trials to pursue his calling. I suspect that like pretty much everything I’ve written, this will vary from diocese to diocese and certainly others with differing disabilities had a smoother process. As I write General Synod has been looking at the issues of disability equality so I have hope for the future. I recently came across The Disability & Jesus Organisation, a relatively new group formed of disabled Christians focussed on seeing things change in the church. I would recommend looking at their website and contacting them for advice. Their website says this:
Disability equality is far more than just meeting our legal obligations under “The Equality Act 2010”. We should learn to see it as a gospel imperative “And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.” We should be ready and willing to go much further than the law requires
Several people I know changed church or even diocese whilst in discernment. This might be unavoidable due to a life change or to might be deliberate. Some candidates have found they were more accepted in one diocese than another, and this has been for various reasons. If you need to change diocese this is possible and if you’ve already started the process you can go straight to the DDO. However like all things in some cases it’s easier than others. One candidate moved due to a job change and was made to start the whole process again despite being months in to it.
Why there are so many acronyms in the Church I don’t know, but to make things a tad easier, here’s some of the ones you might come across…
DDO – Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Works for the diocese, oversees those in discernment or training, and will be your point of contact in the diocese during DP.
ADDO – Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands. There may be several of these and depending on your diocese you may see an ADDO instead of DDO.
VC – Vocations Consultant. Usually someone who advises during the process and may take you through the selection criteria. They will be selected for you by your DDO.
VA – Vocations Advisor. As above just a different name, why is anyone’s guess.
The DP – Discernment Process aka The Selection process. Didn’t want to type it out endlessly so I just made up yet another acronym.
EC – Examining Chaplain. You may or may not see one of these before going to BAP. Usually a lay person appointed to go over your paperwork and check you out. Again.
Min Div – Ministry Division – responsible for advising the House of Bishops, individual Bishops and members of diocesan staff about matters relating to: vocation, selection, ministerial education and development, deployment
VEG – Vocational Enquirers Group. Some diocese have these, candidates getting together to support each other in the process.
Ordinand – someone who has been recommended and is training for ordained ministry.
Candidate – person in the discernment process. A possible candidate for training.
NSM – Non stipendiary Minister
SSM – Self Supporting Minister
BAP – Bishops Advisory Panel (yes some of you will find this term slightly inappropriate, just be careful where you make that joke,a s I found out…)
CPAS Guide to exploring vocation for leaders – This is a short (20 page) PDF which is free to download. It is, as the title suggests, a guide for clergy or leaders in order to help them to help people approaching the idea of a calling. However it is still a useful resource as it covers a lot of areas in brief, for example a biblical view of calling, types of ministry (very useful graphic on page 19), the ordination service, selection criteria and it has a list of further resources and recommendations at the end.
Step Forward – Step Forward is for anyone aged 18 to 30 who is wondering whether God might be calling them to ordained ministry in the Church of England and has a section on considering vocation. Put together by some guys from Cranmer Hall, this has some great resources and suggested reads.
Vocation in the Church of England – vocation and links to other sections…
Call Waiting – Call Waiting is an Anglican initiative aimed at younger people entering ministry (18-30) but actually a lot of the info on their website could appeal to any age. A good starting point.
On discernment in general, ‘Finding God in each Moment’ is a nice little book and Amazon’s ‘look inside’ facility allow you to actually see quite a lot of it without buying (although it doesn’t cost much anyway).
Called or Collared by Frances Dewar – I found this one very helpful when considering calling very early on.
CofE Vocations – if you haven’t already come across this site do check it out, basic but with some useful stuff.
Types of ministry – the Manchester Diocese website has some useful info on types of ministry here.
Dioceses – Find your diocesan website here, useful for finding local contacts.
The Diocese of Sheffield has a useful page with list of further resources at the bottom.
In the process
‘What shall this Man do?‘ by Watchman Nee looks at ministry in general, in the New Testament context. I’ve not read it personally but it looks good and others have recommended it.
Grove Booklets – If you haven’t heard of these before, you need to! Short, to the point booklets on basically anything and everything to do with the Anglican church and the Christian faith. At £3.95 each they are little gems and well worth checking out.
The Testing of Vocation by Robert Reiss – book looking at the way the process has worked over the years. Some good background reading!
Pioneer Ministry – including slightly different criteria and process.
Selection Criteria – You will be assessed on these 9 criteria. The list is comprehensive and gives various examples of ares to look at. Read, learn and inwardly digest then get on with doing it!
DDO’s Page – Basically all the relevant docs and paperwork the DDOs need to guide you through this process. If you want to know more about what might be needed, a look through these might take some time but you might find it interesting.
The DDO Handbook is actually a guide put together for DDOs. However it is available online and can be worth dipping into, especially if you are unsure about a particular area of how something should be handled.
Being a Priest Today by Christopher Cocksworth – considered a classic book, and very useful.
Being a Deacon Today by Rosalind Brown – recommended by a fellow student, this is helpful to gain an understanding of the deacon identity, even if you are not aiming for the distinctive diaconate, and the way the deacon identity underpins the priestly.
not to be confused with:
The Christian Priest Today by Michael Ramsey – another book they are bound to make you read so get it and get ahead of the game!
The Fire & The Clay – Ed. George Guiver – a reflection on what it is to be a priest and priestly formation and recommended by one candidate in particular. Has some emphasis on sacraments too if you need to learn more in this area.
’10 Reasons not to be a Vicar’ and the following comments might provide some light relief as well as strike a chord.
One of the best things I’ve read on Singleness in the church.
CPAS has some brilliant sheets which you can download free, covering various aspects of ministry in the church. These go into a bit more detail and really are worth reading through.
Red Moon Rising by Pete Greig & Dave Roberts. An account of the start of the 24/7 prayer movement (this edition updated for the 15 year anniversary). I read this and was so inspired to pray more, but in a funny way it also reinforced my calling as I read about another’s calling which just could not be denied.
Resilient Pastors: The Role of Adversity in Healing and Growth by Justine Allain Chapman – this book looks at the pastoral side of ministry and the skills required to deal with it. Not read it myself but it comes recommended.
Ministry Without Madness by Gordon Oliver – another one recommended by someone else, this book looks at the role of a minister today and the pressures faced by them.
Called to Love: Discernment, Decision-Making and Ministry – by Raymond Tomkinson – looks at how we can focus on God while making important decision but with an emphasis on those feeling called to ordained ministry.
The Leader and The Family by Katharine Hill – Grove booklet on how to balance being a leader with your family.
Posts from my own blog:
Guest posts on my blog
Other blog posts
For those who have been ‘not recommended’ for training at a Bishops Advisory Panel
CPAS Sheet – ‘On being not recommended for training. An excellent resource.
When the Church Says ‘No’, Grove Booklet P98 by Helen Thorp – a useful tool written by a woman with much experience in vocational discernment.
Where is God When it Hurts? by Philip Yancey – Yancey is an inspiring author and this book looks at a range of seasons in which we might wonder where God is.
The Pilgrim Explorer Blog has a number of posts on his experience of going through discernment, the ones on not getting recommended are heartbreaking but totally honest, and a very worthwhile read either to prepare yourself for what could happen or to help you after BAP:
Please Sir Can I Have Some More on his BAP report.
Unpastoralized – more on the report and the aftermath.
Posts on college and training
Intro – residential or regional training, full or part time, is one better than the other?
Regional Training at SEITE – a look at regional training from a student’s view point.
Residential at Oak Hill – a look at residential training from a student’s view point.
Residential at Cuddesdon- a look at residential training from a student’s view point.
A Mixed view – from someone who has been at both.
The Issues in Human Sexuality Report – all candidates are required to read this and agree to abide with it.
Changing Attitude – Changing Attitude England, is a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual members of the Church of England. Their goal is to seek an Anglican church that fully accepts, welcomes and offers equality of opportunity to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Masses of links and articles on a range of themes including transgender.
Accepting Evangelicals – is an open network of Evangelical Christians who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Their website has a number of docs and links on the subject of homosexuality within the church.
‘Bisexual or Just Greedy’ blog post by Benny Hazlehurst
The Sibyls – is a UK-based confidential Christian spirituality group for transgender people, their partners and supporters. It seeks to fulfil the two great commandments of Jesus: To love God and love one another.
Pilling Report Nov 2013 – The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. Well worth a read.
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Now the boring bit…
Informally – look I wrote and researched this and spent a long time doing it. However it is also God given, and written in order to help others. I also had input from many people who helped with the research by filling in questionnaires, to whom I am very grateful.
So with all that, I want people to share it and see it, so that those who it could help will have access to it. I hope that Bishops, DDO’s and VCs might share it with those under their guidance and in doing so, that might include printing out some copies. So let’s be sensible I’m totally fine with that! If you’re not sure, just drop me a message. But I’ve also been advised to do the official stuff so here you go:
© This work is copyright & owned by Jules Middleton, 2016, who retains the right to be identified as the author. All images are copyright to the author unless stated otherwise.
This work may be duplicated, printed or distributed freely for personal use, so long as it is not altered or adapted and so long as the author is identified. It may not be copied, distributed or sold for commercial gain. For further information the author may be contacted via this blog, via Twitter: @redjules or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pickingapplesofgold