Having been back at work for about five hours i seem to have spent the last four and a half on the telephone catching up. Nothing went drastically wrong whilst i was away and in fact there have been some good things going on, so apart from a mountain of mail that is causing me to turn ashen every time i think about it i don't have a huge amount to make up for now i am back.
It's summertime (in case anyone had missed this) so meetings are all off until September, as are the various school events that conspire to fill up my weeks. My hope is that this will allow me some time to get back to visiting and getting my study and everything else administrative in to tip top order whilst things are quieter.
So, about the last few weeks, i know you're dying to know! Its been a great time, just busy. Before i went away we all geared up for a variety of events, it being summer there was a whole load of fetes and summer 'do's that were enjoyable and time consuming. I missed a few by going away on holiday, which i am not completely gutted about as there are enough clergy to cover things now.
That was one of the major changes, on the day before i went away we had our curate ordained priest and two of our long-term Church members ordained deacon, so we now have four full time priests and two voluntary deacons on our team. Despite my constant carping on about how the Church should be made up of all the people and that ministers exist to support not just to do everything the presence of more ordained team members will be a boon to our situation here in these rural parishes. We celebrated this at a service on the morning of the day i left, which i ended up putting together but not having to do anything but play in the music group for. It was a celebration of ministry generally, but a celebration of what we have been blessed with in our team especially.
This of course presents me with something of a crisis of conscience - or theology - which people might want to comment on. I do sincerely believe that the Church is called to every member ministry, and that the emergence of new forms of congregation, structure and ministry is an exciting and spirit-led innovation. I do believe that there is a role for those who are trained and theologically educated to offer their support, and leadership, to the Church as ministers (lay and ordained) and that the Anglican 'three fold order' of Bishop's, Priests and Deacons is still an appropriate model within the Church (not the only model, but a workable and - dare i say it - spirit inspired model). Alongside this i hold the tension of how people in the C of E (perhaps in most Churches) percieve the role of the minister, which is still often to do everything: to lead and to teach and to guide worship and to pastor and to administer etc etc etc. This is, of course, an unrealistic model in the Church today, one which is rediscovering that ordained ministry is just one part of the ministries of the Church. Pragmatically it is also unrealistic to expect a Vicar to do what s/he could do years back when most parishes were single community benefices. I also think that Biblically putting all the ministry of the Church into the hands of a few is inappropriate and ignores the diversity of responsibilites and callings within the body of Christ.
So here i am rejoicing in the calling to ministry of two new curates and the release of Curate 2.0 as she is now given the authority and blessing of the Bishop to exercise the ministry of a priest. Yet at the same time I recognise that we are in danger of simply shoring up a top heavy, clergy led model of minstry which is failing the Church and (in the words of a previous Bishop in this diocese) frankly unbiblical and needs some repentance from.
I find myself caught between ideals and pragmatism, between frustration and relief, between a hope for a broader ministry without me having to do quite so much and a fear that we might just be giving people the idea that the Clergy do everything...
That was part of my thought process of the past few weeks, no resolution of course, hence another attempt to throw things into the ether and see if anything comes back. If nothing else at least i have put this into words and i can come back and read what i think!
Plenty more to come about just about everything and maybe even some holiday snaps in the near future. Got to get back to doing Clergy things now ;-)