Monday, February 08, 2010

There's Something about admin

I have said before, and I make no apologies for saying it again - that admin is the worst part of this job! If I didn't have such a capable and pleasant Administrator who takes on some of the tasks I think I would go crackers... This morning was a three hour meeting with my Administrator where we went through a whole load of different issues that needed addressing - made more tolerable by the fact that we can divert from the subject in hand and have a laugh as well as sharing some of the 'pastoral' issues that crop up around certain administrative tasks.

I guess most people wouldn't know just how much administration and organisation goes into Church ministry. We are slightly hampered in the C of E by being the 'Established Church' which gives us certain responsibilities to the wider community, and also means that those who don't have anything to do with the life of the Church can make demands for Weddings, Baptisms, Funerals and Pastoral care which we are bound to fulfil. On the whole this is an immense privilege and gives Anglican Churches in England a way into serving and caring in the lives of our villages which other denominations don't share. It also comes with a fair amount of paperwork. Now I can do admin, if I put my mind to it, but I don't enjoy it and it seems to expand to fill all the time available if I let it. I'm not efficient, I am not naturally inclined to think in terms of rotas and lists and filing but I can do it. I know of some Clergy that are marvellously good at Admin and i have a (begrudging) admiration for them but my focus is always on what's going on outside of my study; as anyone who has had the misfortune to see my study will know. That's not to say that good administrators aren't focussed on the outside world, but that when I focus on admin, as I have done all day today, I don't think about anything else.

On the positive side, I have got a lot done today, including long emails to the Bishop, and to our new Curate! Yep, that's right, i am very pleased to announce that we are having a new member added to our team in June. She will officially be coming with 'training wheels and L plates' but I am fortunate in having someone who is very competent and creative joining us in ministry here so as she hones her 'ministry craft' I suspect she will also offer an awful lot to our Mission Community even as she learns the ropes!

For those of you who don't know the system that the Church of England puts in place, after two or three years training (either full time at Theological College or as part of a 'distance learning' course) a person who is called to Ordained Ministry is made Deacon and then Priested in a Parish or group of Parishes where they effectively serve an apprenticeship as a Curate, usually for four years. It used to be three years in one parish and then two in another, but second curacies are rarer now than twenty or so years ago. So my new Curate will be serving four years in this place, and by the time she moves on will be able to face the world as a fully fledged Vicar running her own team. I was very fortunate that my Curacy set me up for a lifetime of ministry very well indeed and my training incumbent, for whom I still have a great amount of respect, instilled in me certain values and helped me through certain experiences which gave me the skills and tools I needed for my Ordained Ministry. I hope I will be able to do the same.

On a personal note, I was fortunate to have such an exceptional Training Incumbent, as I only served two years in my first Curacy and then at the request of my Bishop went to a mixed University/Schools Chaplaincy and Parish Church ministry which was a badly cobbled together group of jobs with a semi-competent minister I had to work with. The second priest I was set alongside was someting of a control freak who was absent from the parish yet still expected things to be done his way! He had another job which he was more concerned about and I knew I was in trouble when he started saying 'When I spent eight years in parish Ministry I learned...' and then proceeded to tell me how I was to do my job. Well, having spent nearly fifteen years in Parish ministry (and four years in sector ministry) I realise that he really didn't know a lot about Parishes and certainly taught me very little in the two years I worked there! I was fortunate again for my next position, my first job as Vicar, in that the colleagues I had there were marvellously supportive, varied in outlook and style and willing to take risks as well as working together in mutually accountable ministry. That was a very good first Incumbency, as it's known (an Incumbent is the name of someone who has the responsibility for a parish or group of parishes!).

So a bit about admin, a bit about me, and a bit about ministry. No thought for the week at this time, maybe later... I still have a few to catch up on. Thank you for reading.


Dr.John said...

I hated administration as well. Thank you for your comment on my blog.

Melli said...

LOL! Over HERE in the Lutheran Church a Vicar is someone who has attended seminary for 3 years, then goes out to work under the tutelage of a Pastor for one year, before returning to seminary for their final year and then ordination. We have a new Vicar this year and we are hoping SO MUCH that we can get him back as an ordained Minister when seminary is done. He is YOUNG and ENERGIZED and brings soooooooo much to our Parish! And considering that we have the BEST Pastor in allllllll the world (in my opinion!) our church is very BLESSED!!!

I am very HAPPY for you to be getting your new Curator and I hope she is everything you are hoping for ... and more! And I am positive that YOU will teach her well.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

What an interesting pattern of training — 1 year apprenticeship in the field before the final year of college, then out. Something similar could be put together in the C of E as a scheme of "Mixed Mode" training. I think one reason we don't do it is the relocation question, and the prevalence of scheme training which isn't college based anyway, but it's a pattern to bear in mind especially if you're near a training centre like Oxford... which I am.

I've always struggled to see how St Paul could think admin a gift of the Holy Spirit, but there you go... all best with yours, Alastair!