Top 10 Tips for Starting Ordination Training // Guest Post

I’m delighted to be hosting a guest post today from Andrew Avramenko who has just started at Vicar School. It’s great to get a fresh and up to date perspective on the whole process and he’s got some great pointers here from his own experience, for those starting training…

Sarum College

For some, September and October marks the beginning of their ordination training. My training at Sarum College in Salisbury began a little earlier with a week-long Summer School in August. It was a welcomed opportunity to build a sense of community with the tutors and other students, and gave me a chance to pick up some tips for theological study that may be helpful; so here are my Top 10 Tips for Starting ordination training…

1. Freaking out is ok!

No matter how well you’ve adjusted to being recommended to train for ordination you may find it hard to fully accept you’re now an Ordinand. I felt like a fraud and expected my college to realise and politely ask me to leave. They didn’t – they knew I should be there but it took me a while to accept it myself – this is not unusual! I still find myself freaking out a little at the sound of ‘Ordinand’ – apparently that’s not unusual either!


2. You have been called

The discernment process is rigorous but if you’re starting ordination training you’ll know that. If you are training for Ordination you are doing so because the Church has recognised that God has called you to do that. So if you find yourself doubting your calling remember all those who met and encouraged you on your way to and through your BAP (Bishops’ Advisory Panel).


3. Enjoy yourself

After all the questioning you’ve had up to this point you might find it jarring to be able to simply listen to some teaching, I certainly found it somewhat of a shock but the realisation that I had three years of this ahead of me filled me with joy – the training is a blessing and a gift so enjoy it!


4. Come as you are

You have been called as you are, so be who you are. Be aware of how other people’s personalities can affect yours, and vice versa, and take steps to cope: if you recharge by being on your own make time to withdraw to quiet spaces after time with others, but if the quiet moments drive you crazy seek out people to talk to about them.


5. We’re one, but we’re not the same

Although you and your fellow Ordinands have gone through a similar process don’t expect to all be alike: prepare for people who believe, think and work differently from you. Learning to get along with those we might find challenging is important but hold onto the shared experiences as you do so.

Salisbury Cathedral

6. Everything in it’s right place

Don’t be afraid to face difficult past experiences, theological college should be a safe place to do so. Your tutors and fellow students will be facing their own challenges and should be supportive of you facing yours – it’s good training for walking alongside those experiencing difficult times now.


7. Question your views

We all have opinions and we might be right, but we might not be and your training is a good opportunity to challenge your opinions, preconceptions and accidental prejudices. Having an open mind at theological college also awakens you to receive exciting revelations.


8. Question other people’s views

Just as we might be wrong so might even the most established theologians. During my Summer School we were presented with some startling and deliberately provoking thoughts but were encouraged not to take them at face value or as ‘truth’; instead we were asked to question them and even, if we felt so, to disagree and treat them as simply opinions.


9. Living in another world

Do your best to avoid living in a bubble whilst training. Keep some non-theological interests and contact with friends and family: it’s is important to stay connected with all that happens away from a theological college, and will help when the training is put into practice.


10. It’s a marathon not a sprint

Hopefully you will be eased into your training but don’t be fooled by a quiet start into thinking you have time to take on new task and duties. The course will soon fill your time so enjoy this space at the beginning and use it to reflect on what brought you to it, to settle into your new life and to be excited about what is to come.



Andrew Avramenko is training for ordination at Sarum College in Salisbury and writes the Pilgrim Explorer blog which documented his experiences whilst exploring his calling to be ordained and, since August 2017, his experiences as an Ordinand.  He lives in Bath and hopes to survive juggling his study with his job and time with his wife and two children over the next three years.

College Update // October 2013

Southwark Cathedral & Education centre
So I’ve made it to half term and am
grabbing some time to write the next update before the chaos starts again.
Actually I say that, but so far it has not been too chaotic, we seem to have
fallen into a rhythm that works for us as a family and whilst there will
undoubtedly be weeks when deadlines fall where things may not run so smoothly,
so far so good!
term I have 2 modules to study, one for evenings at Southwark, which is ‘Church
in Practice’ and one for the weekends, which is focusing on Mission. Church in
Practice (or CiP) covers the history of the Christian church, how patterns of
worship formed, ie: why we do what we do in our churches. Also looking at the
Christian calendar: events that are celebrated annually in the church – Easter
and Christmas being the obvious but there are loads more. We started this
module looking at liturgy which is the way services are formed – the wording,
the various components that are included in each service and so on. Got to
admit I thought this was going to be a pretty dull module to start on, but I
have actually found it fascinating. So, for example did you know that early
Bishops in the church were chosen according to how well they could lead
services by listening to the Holy Spirit and being guided by him (I think the
technical term for this might be ‘winging it’ !). Seriously, I loved reading
this because this is how I try and live my life, just being guided by God not
according to some set pattern.
module on Mission which we are taught on over the weekends is just amazing.
It’s an area that I feel passionate about anyway but the teaching has been so
inspiring. Mission is basically taking the message of Jesus out into the world,
not just by telling people about him, but by showing them. So it can include things as diverse as community
projects, praying for people on the street, events and more. We have had a guy
called Ian Mosby to come and tutor us who runs a project in London called
‘Moot’, which basically allows people to explore spirituality within a
Christian context. He shared some startling statistics that showed that in a
survey of non-Christians in the UK, over 75% would agree that they have some
sort of belief in a force of good, possibly God, and accept that humans are
spiritual; but of those less than 10%
would look to the church for answers. That is exactly what Moot is addressing –
helping people ask those kind of spiritual questions in a non traditional
church format. Very inspiring.
part of this module we also get to do a mission placement project and our group
will be going to St Peter’s church in Henfield, which is very local to us here.
We’ll be helping to put on a nativity festival in the church which I’m really
excited about. If you’re local, it will be starting over the weekend of 7/8 December
so do pop along.
also just finished my first assignment (just in time to enjoy half term!). It
was a 2000 word essay entitled; ‘To what extent has observance of the Christian
year been a unifying factor in the history of Christian worship?’. Which is
probably enough to send anyone to sleep and anyone who I have mentioned it to
seems to glaze over within seconds, but I have found the research really
Our second study weekend was
at an ex-army hotel in Gillingham, which let’s face it, is not the nicest town
in the world, but compared to the stone cell I had on the previous weekend was
actually pretty luxurious. And of course it had actually hit the 21st
century, I mean I even had a teasmaid in the room this time… I think like most
of our venues there are little quirks, like the fact that we had to use one big
room for most of the things we did, so while we were holding times of worship,
the staff would often be setting up for dinner in the other half of the room, or
clearing away from breakfast. Needless to say there were several bouts of
stifled giggles when odd clanking noises occurred in particularly reverential
parts of the services (maturity doesn’t come along with being a Christian
good bits //
lots really, after the low of the first weekend it has all been pretty much
uphill. Plus a trip to Disneyland, Paris last week which has nothing whatsoever
to do with college but it was amazing!
stuff //
Getting lost in a park in Gillingham – decided on an early morning run and got
hopelessly lost in a park near our hotel and ended up running twice as far as I
wanted and nearly missing breakfast. Thankful for a random dog walker who
pointed me in the right direction!
Two weekends away within the space of a few weeks – this is a one off as we had
an induction weekend as an extra this term. Pretty rough on us all to be
honest, but thankfully the next one isn’t until the end of November now.
Stuff //
I’m approaching a very busy few weeks with 3 family birthdays, a new project at
work hopefully getting off the ground, Christmas preparation, planning the
Mission Project and another assignment due. So prayer for peace, no stress and
good time management would be great.
For Phil & the family, for good quality family time, for continued ease in
general organisation, and for understanding all round when I am snowed under!
that’s all for now, thanks for your continued support,
Jules x