It s Your Call: Exploring Vocation

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1 It s Your Call: Exploring Vocation

2 Contents 3 / Is God calling me? 4 / What is my vocation? 6 / Licensed lay ministry 8 / Ordained ministry 10 / Other types of Christian ministry 12 / The discernment and selection process 14 / Resources 15 / Information for Clergy 16 / Key contacts Message from Bishop Christopher You did not choose me but I chose you, said Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel of John. Through Baptism, Christ continues to call each one of us and make us his own. And like the disciples, he appoints us to go and bear fruit that will last (John 15.16). All the baptised are called to share in the ministry of Christ s Church, and we rejoice in the diversity of the gifts with which God equips his people. Within the Church, there are various licensed and accredited forms of ministry; we hope that this booklet will help you to understand more about them, and the process of discernment and selection in this diocese. It is my sincere hope that you will know God s wisdom and guidance, and that he may set your hearts on fire as you seek prayerfully to discern his will for you. Yours in Christ, + Christopher

3 Is God calling me? Calling or vocation is one of the major themes in the Bible. The Bible is full of inspiring stories of very ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things when answering God s call and putting it into action. Each and every one of us forms a unique part of God s loving creation and, as such, all of us have a particular calling to fulfil in God s Kingdom plan. First and foremost, it is the calling of all Christians to represent Christ in and to the world. Some will fulfil this vocation simply in reflecting the love of God to others in their own contexts and situations. For most Christians, their calling is lived out by taking an active part in their local church and sharing in the mission, tasks and activities of that church. But for some, this vocation has a specifically ministerial dimension, and involves being formally licensed as a lay minister in the Church, or being ordained. Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. Ephesians 4.7; Is God Calling me? If you think your vocation may be to ordained or some other authorized ministry in the Church of England, this booklet is for you. It has three main aims: firstly, to provide an overview of the ministries within the Church of England here in the Diocese of Southwark; secondly, to explain how those in this diocese will support you in discerning your vocation; and, thirdly, to provide resources to help you explore your vocation further. 3

4 What is my vocation? 4 What is my Vocation? God calls each of us to serve him according to the unique gifts we have been given. Some are called to share in the life and mission of the local church; and some are called to more specific ministries in the wider church. The following pages will help you explore what your particular vocation might be. Ministry of service The gifts of all members of the church are essential in building up the body of Christ in each community. God calls each of us to offer a ministry of service, and there are many ways in which this can be done. Here are some examples of the types of ministry to which God might be calling you: Outreach: welcoming newcomers; visiting the sick or housebound; working with children and young people; accepting responsibilities within the community. Liturgy: leading intercessions; reading in services; acting as chalice assistant; involvement in the musical life of the church. Leadership, administration and communication: being a member of the Parochial Church Council or other church committees; becoming a churchwarden; engaging with social media. Group leadership: leading a Bible study group; running a parent-toddler group, a youth group, a group for the elderly or a charitable project based at the church. All Christians have a share in Christ s continuing ministry in the Church and the world. There are many ways in which this ministry is lived out. To find out about how you might become more involved in the work and mission of your church, speak to your vicar or chaplain.

5 Licensed Ministry In the Church of England, there are a number of more specific ways of serving God which are commissioned or licensed by the Diocesan Bishop. This confers a particular authority for the individual to minister to God s people according to their calling on behalf of the wider Church. Lay or Ordained Ministry? This chart shows the different types of lay and ordained ministry in the Church of England and in the Diocese of Southwark: What is my vocation? Licensed lay ministry Ordained ministry Ministries SettingS Ministries SettingS Reader Southwark Pastoral Auxiliary (SPA) Parish church Parish church or community Priest Incumbent Minister or Assistant Minister Deacon Parish church Chaplaincy Pioneer ministry Other setting 5

6 Licensed May Ministry Licensed Lay Ministry Lay ministers are commissioned or licensed by the Diocesan Bishop and work in a voluntary capacity within their church/ chaplaincy and local community. Many have secular careers alongside licensed lay ministry. Lay ministers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, bringing with them diverse skills and interests. The focus of each person s ministry will vary according to the needs of their church and community, their own gifts, experience and knowledge. Reader Ministry Readers are licensed by the Diocesan Bishop as lay ministers of the Church of England. Under the supervision of their vicar or chaplain, they: may exercise a teaching and preaching ministry; may be involved in the preparation of liturgy and conducting worship; Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And I said, Here I am; send me! Isaiah 6.8 Reader training Reader training is done currently through the South East Institute for Theological Education (SEITE). The course is validated under the Common Awards scheme. Age limits for Reader training Candidates for Reader ministry must be 62 years or younger at the point of entering training. 6 assist the clergy in the mission and ministry of their local church and community.

7 Southwark Pastoral Auxiliary (SPA) ministry Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs) are lay men and women commissioned by the Diocesan Bishop to help develop caring and pastoral work on behalf of the Church. SPAs are called to demonstrate God s care and concern for the world in practical ways. Under the supervision of their vicar or chaplain, they may do this: SPA training SPA training takes two years. This training take place through weekday evening sessions; but there are also some weekend residential courses and occasional Saturday sessions. Although there are no formal age limits for SPA ministry, it is expected that a candidate will be able to offer at least three years of ministry following the two-year training period. Licensed Lay Ministry through their direct contact with people; by encouraging and enabling others to exercise a caring ministry; by raising awareness of pastoral needs within their local church/chaplaincy and community. SPA ministry can be very diverse. Some SPAs work mainly within their local church; others work mainly within the local community, based at a local care agency or project. In many cases, it is a combination of the two. Mary said, Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. Luke

8 Ordained Ministry 8 Ordained Ministry There are three orders of clergy ministry in the Church of England: deacons, priests, and bishops. Deacons and priests are ordained by the bishop, and given authority to lead and minister to God s people in a variety of contexts. Some deacons and priests exercise their ministry voluntarily (often referred to as non-stipendiary ministers or self-supporting ministers ), while others are given a stipend to enable them to minister full-time. Deacons According to the Church of England s Ordination Services, deacons are ordained so that the people of God may be better equipped to make Christ known. Theirs is a life of visible self-giving. Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others. Deacons may preach, teach, baptize, and lead the church community in prayer. They may have a particular care for the vulnerable and marginalized. Some deacons are distinctive, and remain as deacons throughout their ministry in a non-stipendiary/selfsupporting capacity; others are ordained priest after a period served as a deacon. Priests Priests are ordained to lead the people of God in the offering of praise and the proclamation of the Gospel. They share with the bishop in the oversight of the Church... they are to sustain the community of the faithful by the ministry of word and sacrament, that all may grow into the fullness of Christ. Priests remain deacons, and continue to serve and care for the people of God throughout their ministry, albeit with a different emphasis. Priests exercise an extremely diverse ministry: in parishes, cathedrals, hospitals, schools and colleges, prisons, the armed services and in various diocesan roles. Bishops Bishops are ordained to be shepherds of Christ s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles, proclaiming the Gospel of God s Kingdom and leading his people in mission. Bishops remain as priests and as deacons throughout their ministry.

9 Ordained Ministry Training for ordained ministry There are a variety of training pathways available to those preparing for ordained ministry. The length of time in training depends on various factors, including a candidate s age, and whether or not they train full-time or part-time. However, training will take a minimum of two years (full-time) and up to four years. Training pathways are discussed with candidates during the process of discernment. After ordination, a period of three or four years is served in a parish as a curate, where ministerial training continues. Whether nationally or locally deployable, in order to gain the roundest possible experience as a resource for the Church, curates are required to serve in a different parish from their sending parish. Age limits for ordained ministry training For stipendiary ministry, candidates must be 52 years or younger at the point of entering training, if doing a three-year course; or 53 years or younger at the point of entering training, if doing a two-year course. For non-stipendiary ministry, candidates must be 57 years or younger at the point of entering training, if doing a three-year course; or 58 years or younger at the point of entering training, if doing a two-year course. Please bear in mind that the process of discernment takes between one and two years to complete. For some candidates this process will take longer and, if this proves to be the case, the above age limits will still apply. 9

10 Other Types of Christian Ministry 10 Other Types of Christian Ministry In addition to ordained and licensed lay ministry, here are some other forms of Christian ministry: Religious Life As well as the ordained and licensed lay ministries already described, the Church of England has a good number of religious communities, made up of monks and nuns. There are essentially two types of religious community (for both men and women): contemplative and active. The difference between these two forms is that active communities undertake some form of outside ministry (for example, medical care or chaplaincy) while contemplative communities stay within their religious houses and take prayer as their ministry. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians Some Anglican communities follow a rule or way of life inspired by one of the ancient orders (such as the Franciscans or Benedictines), while others are independent and have their own rule. The members of each community take vows, which usually include some combination of poverty, chastity, obedience, stability and conversion of life. All communities will have a training period for newcomers (usually called the novitiate) which lasts between two and four years, in which the discernment of God s call to the particular community with its distinctive way of life is tested. There then follows another period of about three years under vows before life vows are made. Speak first to your vicar or chaplain, if you think you may be called to religious life, and he or she can put you in touch with a suitable religious community where you can find out more.

11 Youth Ministry Many churches or other community organisations employ workers trained to engage with young people, children and families, sometimes as part of a formal ministry team. Their vocation is to nurture and encourage young people in the Christian faith and to provide a strategic vision for them within the local community. The Resources section of this booklet provides a useful website link for more information about youth ministry. Church Army Evangelist Spiritual Direction Spiritual direction is the practice of being alongside people as they seek to deepen their faith and their relationship with God; or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. As such, spiritual direction is a very important part of Christian life and spiritual directors have a key calling in helping others to grow in their Christian discipleship. The Resources section of this booklet provides some useful website links for more information about spiritual direction and how to train as a spiritual director. Other Types of Christian Ministry The Church Army is a mission-focused society, which seeks to transform lives and local communities, and to enable people to come to the Christian faith, through the work of its evangelists, staff and supporters. Church Army evangelists work alongside local churches in a wide variety of contexts and projects throughout Great Britain and Ireland. There are a number of useful videos on the Church Army website which will tell you more about their work. The link can be found in the Resources section of this booklet. 11

12 The Discernment and Selection Process The Discernment and Selection Process The following pages outline the discernment and selection process for ordained and licensed lay ministry in the Diocese of Southwark. As each enquirer is considered separately, the exact process will differ depending on the needs, circumstances and background of the individual; but what follows can be used as a general guide. What should I do if I believe God is calling me to public ministry in the Church of England? Speak, first of all, to people you trust and who know you well, and listen to what they have to say. Speak to your parish priest or chaplain. Clergy are used to helping people find their vocation, and they will help you begin to discern your sense of calling. They may also suggest ways in which you might nurture and strengthen your Christian faith and understanding. If you and your parish priest or chaplain agree that you should explore further your sense of vocation, they will recommend you to attend a Vocations Forum. Vocations Forums take place every eight weeks at Trinity House, near London Bridge. At the Forum you will have an opportunity to talk and listen to others who also believe that God may be calling them; to reflect on what the Bible says about ministry; and to think about your own journey of faith so far. Many find the Vocations Forums lively and engaging and a useful opportunity to help discern their sense of calling and to find out more about the vocational discernment process. Your parish priest or chaplain can book you on a Vocations Forum. There are also a variety of Open Evenings for different types of ministry. These evenings will provide you with more detailed information about particular ministries and the training involved. 12 In the Diocese of Southwark, you are required to attend a Vocations Forum if you wish to be considered for public ministry within the Church.

13 What happens after a Vocations Forum? At the end of the Forum, you will be asked if you would like to be assigned to a Vocations Advisor. You may decide that you do not wish to pursue things further at this stage. If, however, you would like to continue to explore your calling, this is what happens next: You will be assigned a Vocations Advisor who will contact you and arrange a time to meet. Over the next four months or so, you will have a number of meetings with your Vocations Advisor who will help you to discern your calling further. At this end of this time, your Vocations Advisor will submit a report recommending whether or not you continue with the process. It is very much hoped that you and your advisor will have reached an agreement on this before the report is submitted. If the recommendation is for you not to continue, you will be offered further support to help you work out a way forward. If the recommendation is that you continue with the process, you will be referred to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. The Diocesan Director of Ordinands will ensure that you are put in touch with an appropriate person to guide you though the process from here; this will depend on the type of ministry you are considering. There is no single type of bishop, priest, deacon or licensed lay minister. God calls all sorts of people of different ages, cultures and backgrounds to the work of formal ministry in the Church. The Diocese of Southwark organizes vocations conferences from time to time, which are aimed particularly at encouraging young vocations, or Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic vocations. Speak to your vicar or chaplain to find out more about these conferences. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit Ephesians What happens after a Vocations Forum? 13

14 Resources 14 Resources Here are some resources you may find helpful while exploring your vocation: Websites The Ministry Division, on vocation: A short film about vocation: For those under 30 exploring a vocation: Information about Reader ministry: Information about religious life: Information about the Church Army: Information about spiritual direction: Information about youth ministry: Books On vocation: How to Find your Vocation John Adair (Canterbury Press, 2000): a good introduction to thinking about vocational discernment. On younger vocations: Hearing the Call Jonathan Lawson and Gordon Mursell (SPCK, 2014): a useful book for those under 30 considering ordained ministry. On ordained ministry: Ministry without Madness Gordon Oliver (SPCK, 2013): an insightful reflection on ordained ministry generally in today s Church of England. Stories of ordained ministry: Being a Curate Jonathan Ross-McNair and Sonia Barron (SPCK, 2014): a good collection of real life stories from those in training at theological college and those recently ordained. On Reader ministry: Reader Ministry Explored Cathy Rowling and Paula Gooder (SPCK, 2009): an excellent and informative introduction for those considering Reader ministry. On the Anglican Church: Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction Mark Chapman (OUP, 2006): a good introduction to the history and development of the Anglican Church.

15 Information for Clergy Support for those who are exploring vocations As a vicar or chaplain, there will be times when you are approached by those who feel they are called to public ministry in the Church. Here are some suggestions to guide enquirers through the discernment process in the Diocese of Southwark: Encourage and support the enquirer; but be as realistic and honest as you can about their sense of vocation. Do you feel that the enquirer has a vocation that is realistic, obedient and informed? It is important that an enquirer is aware that formal ministry in the Church can be very demanding and that there will be high expectations on the part of those whom they serve. Enquirers should be urged therefore to be as transparent and honest as possible about themselves in the vocational discernment process. Use the resources suggested in this booklet to guide and support an enquirer. Explore how an enquirer might take greater responsibility in the parish or chaplaincy to test their vocation. The selection criteria expect candidates to display a strong knowledge of the breadth and diversity of the Church of England; do consider whether a placement in a different church context might be useful for your enquirer. If you discern that the enquirer may have a genuine vocation, refer them to a Vocations Forum. This may be booked through Sue Stewart at Trinity House. N.B. You should have known the enquirer for at least a year in your capacity as their parish priest or chaplain before referring them to a Vocations Forum. Be realistic with the enquirer about timescales and expectations. The discernment of a vocation is a prayerful journey, which requires time and careful reflection to be effective. It is not something that can be fast-tracked or undertaken hastily. The process from initial enquiry to beginning training will take a minimum of nine months, though this can be significantly longer depending on the needs and circumstances of the enquirer. Information for Clergy 15

16 Key Contacts Diocesan Director of Ordinands The Reverend Canon Leanne Roberts Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands The Reverend Andrew Zihni Administrative Assistant to the DDO Sue Stewart

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