About Me

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Future...


So... just before Christmas I found out that I will not be able to study at the college I would like to go to next year. Technically, as I have chosen not to go to residential college because of family commitments, I only have one choice of college. This is the same for every Diocese as far as I am aware, for those who can’t move for family or work commitments they provide one alternative, which allows you to stay put for a while. And there is nothing wrong with my local choice but I would just love to go to St Mellitus in London, which offers a different sort of course and is generally more my sort of thing. For various reasons my Bishop has said no. This is frustrating but I do not wish to go into the whys and wherefores about this because whilst I do not agree with much of what my Bishop says, he is still my Bishop and therefore my line of authority in the church. I always said I would accept his decision and whilst I am mulling that over, I do accept his authority.

So now I feel a bit lost. I was accepted for training last May and much has happened since then. I chose to take a year break before studying, but now some 7 months later, having not spent much time thinking about my vocation (this may seem odd but the process you go through requires much emotional energy and it has been a joy not to have to continue in that vein for the entire 7 months) I seem to be thrown back into it again. I have been really knocked by the decision about my college. On top of that the vote against women Bishops has also affected me far more than I thought it would. It’s fair to say that my Diocese is not in favour of women Bishops: the Bishop voted against (and I know my Bishop is anti too), of the 6 clergy, 3 voted against and of the 8 laity, 6 voted against. What made it seem worse still is that all of the women who were able to vote, yes ALL of them, voted against. On top of that (whilst I don’t like labels it is useful here) I come from the more charismatic persuasion, which it’s fair to say is not exactly encouraged here. And this is the Diocese in which I will have to study and work, most likely, for the next 7 years at least.

It is so tempting to off load and rant about various things but I don’t feel that it would be fair or particularly appropriate and so I find myself rather out on a wing, needing some clarity and encouragement but also feeling lost and not sure which way to go. I could go back and re-do my discernment process on the Pioneer Ministry route, (which would probably allow me to go to St Mellitus but require more work and another delay), or I could just carry on regardless and go to my locally nominated college; or I could do something completely different...

I don’t doubt my calling at all, I know God called me to do this and at every step we have asked him to shut the door if it isn’t right, but it's still wide open, so I must be here for a reason. I guess what I do doubt is whether it is right to continue ahead at the moment and if so, on which path.

I should say that the process so far has been hugely eye opening and worthwhile, so even if I don’t go ahead I know it has been an amazing experience. There have been wonderful people I have met along the way who have been hugely encouraging, not least my DDO who is an absolute gem and I can’t thank him enough.

And strangely, I do love this church. Warts and all... I grew up in the Church of England and now I work within it. I can see how much influence it has and how much good it does, I know there are faults and issues, but as a whole The Church (well, it’s people) does such an amazing job in this nation and I want to be part of that, I want to help shape that, I want to see communities transformed and loved by their churches, I want to help The Church make a difference. But right now I feel that maybe my calling is taking me outside of that and that makes me a bit sad.

So here I am. Wondering what step to take. I know there’s only one person who can show me and in this busy season finding significant prayer time is not easy, so I hope over the coming weeks I will be able to sit down and really seek God for the road ahead....

11 comments:

UKViewer said...

I must admit after your last post and now this, I find it discouraging that the church can treat someone who is prepared to give up everything for their vocation in this way.

I'm actually sad that this has happened, because I recall the exhilaration and joy in your posts when you were selected and I know how much emotional effort goes into the discernment process whether you are selected or not.

I don't have any answers, but as someone still struggling to discern that strange thing, vocation in any meaningful way, can just say that the journey, is still one of formation and growth, even this major blip in your training pathway.

In some ways, you have the freedom to do anything you like, but have made it clear that obedience to your Diocesan is something you value. I admire your forbearance and perseverance, because I'd have been minded to pop off to the nearest friendly bishop to see what they might be able to do to help.

But in much the same way, I feel a strong loyalty to my parish and diocese and despite every knock back, still look forward to whatever is going to be thrown at me. My spouse said to me, the most common thing. One door closes, and another will open. Patience and perseverance.

I will continue praying that you find the way forward that allows you to find the right training pathway, without having to compromise yourself to much.

May God's grace be found in all who have a responsibility to support you and to assist your progress in this process.

Red said...

Thanks Ernie, what a lovely comment...
To be honest I'm not sure there are any friendly Bishops nearby otherwise I might have been tempted!
Seriously, though I value your thoughts and prayers, and will continue to pray for you too.
Blessings
Julesx

Nancy Wallace said...

That is really tough. I feel for you and pray you will find God's way through and people who can encourage and perhaps guide. The C of E needs people like you and has confirmed that by recommending you for ordination training. The Diocese you are in must often feel a hard place for female ordinands, deacons and priests. Are you in touch with with any ordained women locally? Would that help? Sending you a virtual hug.

Charlie Peer said...

Hi Red. Over recent years Bishops and DDOs have increasingly sought to control this choice. However you ought to know that, on paper at least, the Bishop cannot dictate your decision. St Mellitus, like all the other colleges & courses, has been passed by the Bishops' inspectors as a training institution that has their confidence, and that is it, as far as the Bishop's say in the matter goes.

Of course in practice, Bishops have lots of ways of making life difficult for ordinands who don't do what they are told, so there is a decision to be made about whether it is worth pushing it or not.

Red said...

Nancy, thanks :) yes I have been in touch with one lovely lady priest locally and spent some time with her. and my own clergy, although male are very supportive!

Charlie - thanks, I had heard that but I have pushed it rather a lot already so I kind of thought I was at the end of the road. there are people willing to push it further for me but I'm not sure bearing in mind I have to be in this diocese for some time!

Charlie Peer said...

You are very wise. I suppose it is STETS for you then? Could be worse!

Kaf said...

Thanks so much for your honesty, I have found this post a real privilege to read.

I am in my 2nd year of theological college and also wanted to go elsewhere but bishop, DDO and BAP selectors all ganged up on me to change my mind! I realised God was very much guiding my change of course once I got over my grumpiness (!) but it has meant some sacrifices for my family.

Hoping you find some peace on this soon.

Red said...

Thanks Kaf. Hope your studies are going well :) where did you go in the end?
redx

Kaf said...

I'm full-time at Ridley, a long commute for my husband but we are seeing lots of up-sides to go along with the downs I had feared (most unsubstantiated or transformed to pros now) Studies going well thanks, currently browsing here to avoid reading 2nd century theologians...

Red said...

Glad its going well :)
Good luck with the 2nd Century theologians! x

nicolahulks said...

Hey Red,

Your blog is always so honest and that makes it really encouraging. I can totally identify with the feeling of being a sqaure peg looking at the round hole that it the church and thinking 'really?' To be honest training in an institution that is so different to my spirituality had been and is really hard and I do wonder if that was the right choice but as always it comes back to where God has placed me and trusting that will work out. All roads pointed to me being here so I figure he is working it out! So that's the thing really isn't it? More prayer, more discernment! I'll be praying for you and reading your journey with interest. Thanks for sharing!

Nicola x