Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Just what is being a Cleric about?

There are so many interesting conversations to be had regarding what a 'Vicar' really is and does at the moment.

We have some who consider themselves in places merely to 'keep the lights on' and this raises some good stuff regarding 'mission vs maintenance' and whether 'lights on' is enough (or valid).

There is the issue of Self Supporting Ministers (the ministers previously known as 'Non Stipendiary'*) and what they offer and how they are regarded by others and, perhaps more importantly, by self!

We have those who are 'locally ordained' and how they, their churches and the establishment see them.

As the numbers of stipendiary clergy diminish as the old adage of 'cutting one's coat according to our cloth' is applies; and looking increasingly towards living out the 'can't pay - can't have' mantra, the reality is that the locally-ordained are viewed (by many) as those who will replace the departing stipendiaries at ground level. Something that leads us to also consider the return of some form of Minister model

In broaching these discussions, people have pointed to the demise of the old 'one parson - one parish' and the fact that unless some (especially 'rural' church?) 'grow their own' then they are doomed to closure. But then again if we put clergy into a building without a strategy for growth are we being effective for the Kingdom or merely putting off the dreadful day of reckoning  and leaving it to be 'someone else's' problem?

Another part of the problem is the fact that many of the locally-ordained are perhaps a little older than the twenty-four yr old priest who made the press today and they move with retirement and get ill and, as one person put it, simply 'die' (don't we all?) and where full-time posts are replaced with others the church's find themselves bereft and without a shepherd.

And as for 'no cost' options - there is the supervision of the locally ordained (three years) and then the Training Incumbent roles and then being a 'line manager' after that (for ministry and management are indeed two different elements!). Sounds like quite a bit of emotional, spiritual, physical, practical and temporal cost to me!

The Local Ordination process is much akin to eating spaghetti, for once embarked upon, the churches need to keep sucking to ensure that there is more in the chain and to prevent the day when the can (spaghetti only comes in cans doesn't it?) yields its last!

All of the above appear to regard the minister as the person who 'staffs' the church building rather than shepherds the sheep and facilitates, trains, releases and supports. As a friend put it (accurate as ever) the clergyperson is the 'religious service provider'.

So here we are - much to discuss and reflect upon (I hope) for everyone, for Church is about all-member, collegial, Kingdom ministry - not the few.



Andrew Godsall said...

"Church is about all-member, collegial, Kingdom ministry - not the few"

Indeed so. But we lack all credibility now until we sort, once and for all, the issue of women in Priestly and Episcopal ministry out. We live in a church where women are second class in this 'Kingdon ministry' you talk about Vic. And it will no longer do.
As for the nonsense the bishops have just put out about marriage.....
If the church really wants all member, collegial ministry, then it needs to sort out these two major areas of its life. It won't be taken seriously until it does...

UKViewer said...

I offered for SSM and my offer was declined for perfectly good reasons. However, the report recommended me 'For Ministry in the Church of England' but with no caveat of which type of ministry?

This was last May. Since than I have struggled along with my than Vicar to discern what type of ministry that I might be suited for. The situation of my just doing the same for the forseeable future is frankly not one that I am prepared to continue with for much longer. It doesn't help that we are in a vacancy with no new incumbent on the horizon. Who do you go to when your Vicar isn't available?

I feel called to proclaim the Gospel, in a public facing ministry, but not as a Reader. And the previous Vicar's vision of a Parish Missioner is on hold as there is no suitable training pathway for it in the diocese or further afield. And, we've been told that there is no plans for Lay Ministry Training in 2013-14 due to financial resource restraints.

Perhaps I just need to pack it all in and sit in the pews like the rest and be 'done to', or go somewhere else. Unfortunately, the call persists. I have good support from my SD and Curate, but both are powerless to take things forward - we need a Vicar, now to get things moving.

At the moment, I'm a bit disenchanted with the Churches seeming inability to get anything right, in the small things, let alone the major things.