Uncategorized Vocation

BAP: the aftermath (Part 2)

So… I am home!! what an amazing but yet utterly exhausting few days. I wanted
to write a report of the experience, partly to help me clear my head, partly to
point people to so I don’t have to explain it 300 times (!) and also hopefully
as an aid to those who might be going to BAP at some point in the future… Sorry it’s a bit of an epically long post!!

So I went to Shallowford House, just outside Stafford, a beautiful old house
surrounded by lovely countryside and well kept gardens, oh yes and a high speed
rail link running 20 foot from the door all night long. (So if you ever need to
go there, it is lovely but do take ear plugs!). The rooms were nice, plenty of
space, warm and comfortable beds!

 There were 16 candidates and 6 advisors and we were divided into 2
groups. The ‘secretary’, the lovely Hilary, was there to make sure everything ran
smoothly, and boy did it run smoothly. Incredibly well organised, we all knew
exactly where to be and when and with what and she was on hand to help if we
needed it.

It was incredibly intense, I think partly because everyone mixes together so
even at dinner the advisors are spread out on the tables and you are encouraged
to speak to them when you can. And from the moment we arrived on Monday
afternoon it was all go! Intro exercises first, then the ‘personal inventory’
(basically a 40 min session where you answer lots of open ended questions about
yourself, under exam conditions! then straight on to supper and then 9pm evening
prayer, after which a few of us went downstairs to the bar (I knew I wouldn’t
manage it the following evening).. but by 10ish we were all heading up to bed!
I didn’t sleep at all and not because of the trains, just think it was nervous
energy and they did warn us this might happen but not to worry about it, which
was a real comfort!

The following morning started with Communion at 7.30, straight on to
breakfast and then straight into doing our presentations (we all had to prepare
a 5 min talk and then chair a 13 min discussion, all timed to the second!). Rather
annoyingly in my group 4 of us talked on the subject of social media and the
church, (which I thought was a sure fire original winner) the last of which was
mine…so I had to do some last minute changing of questions but it worked well
as I was able to joke a bit about the things we had already discussed.

 So by lunchtime my brain was a bit addled having concentrated so much for
hours on end! I actually felt pretty grim after lunch and was a bit worried I
was coming down with something but having had chats later with some others, I
know several of them went and had a sleep, so I am pretty sure it was just the
intensity of it all. I was desperate for fresh air, being an outdoorsy person
it was awful being inside so much, so I took some paracetamol and legged down
the drive for a walk, managing to get the best of the one hour during the day
when it wasn’t raining and whats more saw a beautiful buzzard take off right in
front of me (sure that was a sign!)

 By the time I got back I felt heaps better and then was able to knuckle down
to the pastoral letter (which is where you have to write a letter in reply to a
situation they have given you, it was complex and there are things you need to
make sure you cover), then on to my first interview. Thankfully the advisor was
lovely and it was more like having a chat with a nice uncle! Then straight from
that to evensong and then supper. At this point I was really struggling with a
massive headache and the need to get some personal space! I don’t think I was
very coherent at supper so I rather hope that doesn’t count against me. Anyway
by 8, I was hugely thankful not to have an interview as some did, so I skipped
evening prayer, went to my room, shut the door and snuggled up with the paper
and chose to put all things BAP out of my mind. (For anyone going to BAP I do
advise having times doing this you really do need to be able to put it all down
for a while and breathe!)

 So by the next morning I felt hugely better and also had more space as it
was the last day. More prayer, breakfast and then the last 2 interviews, the
first of which was the ‘vocational one’ which you absolutely have to ‘pass’!! I
think I did ok and I feel that I was myself and gave a good account of myself,
but the advisor was very straight and didn’t give anything away so really hard
to know whether I should have said more (or less!) My last interview was at 2pm
then straight into the closing worship. So any free time I had was filled with
just going over the criteria and making sure I had points to make or reminding
myself what I wanted to get across.

The people were all lovely, and a real sense of camaraderie as we were in it
together. Advise for those going: do get to know people in your group on the
first day/eve, it really helped with the presentations and discussions. I also
found I didn’t feel so bad then being anti-social on the Tuesday. The advisors
were all friendly and I really did start to understand that they are also under
a lot of pressure, their time is much more full than the candidates, and on top
of that they stay on another day to finalise the paperwork etc  There were people from a wide range of
traditions and for me it was lovely being out of the Chichester diocese and not
having such a strong anglo-catholic emphasis, and realising that not all
dioceses are like mine! Just a real balance I felt and I will definitely stay in
touch with a few of the people I met there.  

Coming away I initially felt such a sense of relief, it feels like this date
has been hanging over me for so long! I will actually relish the time it takes
until I know what the result is as I can be free with no future date hanging
there. I don’t think I appreciated before-hand how much it had been weighting
on me. I thought I was quite chilled about it but now it’s done I realise that
I wasn’t at all! I also feel completely at ease because I felt that I was
myself and I did all I could. There is nothing I could have read or studied
that would have changed my answers, I had learned all I need to, read all I
could and was true to myself. So if I don’t get through I won’t feel ‘ I wish I
had said this or that…’ If I don’t get selected I know I will feel disappointed,
because I am human after all, but I also feel very free in the fact that God is
in control and if it’s not meant to be, then he obviously has other plans for

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  • Reply
    May 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    You survived! Well done and I'm glad it seems to have gone so positively, Red.

    It's over 26 years since I went to my Selection Conference (as they were then called in Wales) and it's interesting to recognise so much of my own experience in what you write. The pattern and exercises sound very similar and I still vividly remember the relief we felt when we could escape to the common-room and NOT find a selector there. 🙂

    Like you I felt I had done my best and was actually amazingly calm while I waited to hear whether I had been recommended for training. I hope you get the answer soon.

  • Reply
    Joanna Pemberton
    April 21, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Thank-you so much for putting your experiences and thoughts down to share. Your words have helped me tremendously, especially with my racing mind and anxious butterflies. In 2 sleeps I’ll be attending my BAP. I feel ready with some humorous advice. Looking forward to and not dreading the 3 days.
    Bless you
    Joanna Pemberton

    • Reply
      April 21, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      so glad it is helpful Joanna. Prayers for peace for your BAP! Jules

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