Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Look Mummy, a Vicar with no grey hair or wrinkles!

The Bishop of Lichfield was on 5live this morning in connection with Lichfield Diocese's new recruitment drive for younger clergy. Given that the average age of vicars is steadily rising, this is welcome news, and hopefully can be duplicated in other places.

There's a new website with various stories of younger people in chaplaincy, ordination training etc., and a promised video on 'Pewtube' (badoom tish). It's one thing having your own Youtube channel as a Diocese, but something else entirely to get people to look at it....

There are various bits of recommended reading on the 'it might be God' website. I doubt it's likely that Ann Atkins piece today on the stresses of clergy life will make it there. It picks up on yesterdays threads about bullying and the clergy. I guess it depends how highly you rate Jesus approach to the rich young ruler. Some would argue that the CofE has already tried a selection process designed to put people off, otherwise known as the Aston course*. But I can think of a few books that might be on the reading list for a 'rich young ruler' approach to the question of calling.

*A sort of remedial waiting room for potential ordinands who the selectors couldn't make up their minds about, or perhaps their Bishops were keen and the selectors weren't, so it was a convenient parking place. From what I remember, it's main students were those towards the extremes of the theological spectrum, but I'm quite happy to be corrected about that!!

1 comment:

  1. Some interesting points raised David. We had a meeting between our diocesan vocations advisers and the national officer responsible for encouraging vocations for younger potential ordinands this time last year. I have to say I was not massively impressed with some of what she said and in particular the risk averse attitude suggested regarding BAP selection conferences. I am also concerned about the reasoning of some clergy (retlected a couple of days ago on Twitter) that young people should be directed towards fresh expressions/pioneer ministry; bit like the old assumption that the curate would do the youth work.

    I think you are a bit unfair about the Aston course which was intended for potential ordinands who needed some pre theological course training, usually because of lack of formal qualifications. In the parish where I served as curate a potential ordinand, a scaffolder by trade, found the course invaluable in preparing him for the academic theology aspect of ordination training. Laurie Green, now Bishop of Bradwell, was principal of the Aston training scheme for 7 years and one of his students is now serving as an Archdeacon. Recently at St Mellitus College we have developed an Access course which seeks to serve a similar purpose but is particularly directed at those with English as a second language and who may require help with getting up to speed with other aspects of study/training. The course is based on the Chelmsford Course in Christian Studies which has provided similar help for some potential ordinands. These are people who in the past would not have had the confidence to offer for ordination, or who may have been rejected because of concerns about them being able to engage with the training.

    Regarding Ann Atkins' article, I'm afraid I took what she said with a rather large pinch of salt. She is someone who has never been slow to get in front of a mic or camera and seems to revel in a career based on controversial statements (cf. thought for the day) and written comment (cf newspaper columns) for which she will be well paid. There may be very good reasons why her husband found it difficult to find another parish, wanting a church with a very specific church tradition might be one or fear about church life being broadcast to the nation might be another, and some of her explanation of their expectations as a family (wanting a large house for a large family) raises various questions. As for the man who had waited to get a particular parish because of the size of the vicarage and was upset when he didn't get it; well sometimes the Holy Spirit's plans and ours may not coincide. Many clergy are only too glad to be out of ancient, large, draughty and expensive to maintain vicarages and pleased to be in modern managable places that they can afford to heat, even if they do conform to what the average family has to live in rather than the lord of the manor. As for the business about clergy who complain never work again, I'm sorry but that just doesn't accord with the reality that I have observed as a member of the clergy; the vicarages of England would be empty. The description of the stipend and housing provision as a pittance is something that parishoners in my last parish in east London would simply find offensive. No less offensive was her comment about women clergy and the assumptions that lay behind it.

    I'm not saying everything is rosy in the garden when it comes to ministry in the Church of England and I have plenty of concerns, including those about pension and legitimate cases of bullying, but when I read a tirade like that of Ms Atkins I really do think there needs to be some examination. Anyway, rant over and thanks again for a stimulating post.