- After spending 9 years as a Church Army Officer, I went to Ripon College Cuddesdon in 2009 to train for ordination in the Church of England. I was ordained deacon in September 2011, and then priest in September 2012, serving as Assistant Curate in the parish of St. Botolph Northfleet and St. Mark Rosherville. Clare and I married in July 2000, and our son Nathan was born in September 2010
Monday, 29 August 2011
It has been an interesting experience, having nearly 3 months between leaving theological college and being ordained. If it was the standard practice across the country, it would not feel so strange, but having seen nearly all of my peers from Cuddesdon get ordained at the end of June or start of July, there has definitely been a mix of emotions!
Most of the time, it feels appropriate to have had this gap. For one thing, it has enabled me to get to know the parish, and the congregations to get to know me, so that when the ordination arrives, the churches already know something about their new curate. We certainly feel that we have begun to put down roots in the community, which must have been a lot harder for friends who moved and were then ordained less than two weeks after arriving. For ourselves, it is in some small way a hearkening back to the ordinations in the early church, when usually it was a member of the local congregation who were ordained to minister to that congregation. (In some cases, of course, this is what happens with self-supporting ministers today).
Another advantage of being a 'late' ordination, of course, is that we were able to go to other ordinations (we managed to see three in a whistle-stop tour of the country)...and there will be several Cuddesdonians who are able to come to mine next month. We are so grateful to them for taking time out to be here - of course, being on a Saturday helps!
It's not all been positive, of course. There have been times - especially during the ordination period - where I have felt somewhat left out, and this feeling still crops up now and again. The rational part of me knows that there are lots of good reasons for Rochester Diocese ordaining in September - reasons I agree with - but there is still that other part of me that wants to say, "It's not fair! Why isn't everyone ordained at the same time?" One thing I will be very interested to see is what happens in the Church Times - during the Petertide ordinations (late June/early July), there is an 'ordination special', in which there is a big pull out with the details of all the ordinations that took place over those two weekends. Somehow, I have a feeling that the Rochester ordinations will be stuck away amongst all the various appointments of the week. Perhaps I am wrong, we will see - but if not, it will add to the feeling that we are a bit of an afterthought here in Rochester.
Of course, in some ways, that might be a very good thing. I heard someone preach on St. Barthlomew the other week, who likened St. Bartholomew's ministry to that of a deacon - the unseen servant. A deacon, he said, is called to serve in a way in which that service often goes unnoticed. He likened it to the service one might received from a waiter at a 5-star restaurant - the perfect waiter serves the customer without the latter even noticing that (s)he is being waited on. As a soon-to-be deacon, I am called to serve the church (and also the rest of the community) in the way that Christ did and does. There is more to be said about diaconate ministry, but I think I will save it for another post - it deserves one of its own.
In the meantime, September 10th draws near. Please pray for me, the other 11 candidates to be ordained deacon (especially Jo, a fellow Cuddesdonian), and the parishes (and in one case, deanery) who are receiving curates. Thank you!