Sunday, 21 June 2009

Reflections on almost a year at STETS

I haven't blogged for a little while - a flurry of activity when I first started and then.....nothing. I had this in draft, so I've decided I better finish it off!

As mentioned in my previous post, I've just finished the last weekend of the academic year on my training course for the Anglican Ministry. I thought I would drop some thoughts here as well as some achievements (achievements in my view only, of course!).

This time last year I had just had a 'recommendation' for training from my Bishop to train for three years at Salisbury, part-time and, all being well, to be ordained as a 'self supporting' or 'non-stipendiary' Minister in June 2011. I had also (rather crucially) been offered a place on STETS starting in September 2008.

The course, in my view very well structured, consists of 6 residential weekends and an Easter School a year, 6 academic modules each lasting 7 weeks and concluding with an assignment, three study days per annum and what I would call a 'pastoral' module that runs above this that involves me preaching, observing my congregation, undertaking listening exercises, etc. This work should take about 16 hours of my time in study per week.

I was going to say that I was a fresh-faced student last September; but I would be lying. I'm almost 40 so there's nothing fresh-faced about me. Maybe slightly weathered would be a better expression - although some may disagree and just say knackered! Anyway, in September 2008 I commenced my course, a Diploma in Theology in Christian Ministry and Mission. It was daunting to say the least. Along with 33 or so other ordinands we all turned up to our first weekend in September for 'Orientation'. We were let in gently.....just before the hard work begun!

For me, it didn't get off to a great start! I rather threw myself in; studying evenings, and both days of the weekend. After about three weeks, Nikki (my wife) sat me down and told me essentially that something had to give and we (I) needed to find a way to do the required hours, but not so that she or my sons didn't see me. We agreed that I would study on Sundays but Saturdays were out; these would be family days. This works very well now. I read on the train for a couple of hours each day, do some study at home in the evenings and spend hours in the study on a Sunday. By doing that I can get the work done. Some modules are 'easier' than others, though!

I didn't think it would be any different, but I am enjoying it. I have a great group of fellow students, a very supportive &Co group (a small group of students brought together to support each other and share the work of worship, duties etc at weekends), a great Training Minister (my Incumbent) and very patient tutor! I seem to be keeping up and have had OK marks for three assignments. I would love to do more work on my assignments but I would then have to find some more hours!

Now finishing this, I've just had my first year's assessment and am trying to write my final assignment of the year - this blog is delaying that as I don't have any inspiration for it! Bu as I look back over the year I have been so blessed. Everyone, from my family, home parish, fellow students, tutor and staff have been hugely supportive. I am counting down to my ordination - 100 weeks from this coming Saturday (and that's 12 assignments, 12 residential weekends and two Easter Schools)! But I can't be let loose into the community! But also all the learning along the way, both in the next two years but also in the years of my ministry. And to truly discover where God will take me.....who knows where?

I'm going to be posting again tonight, but don't want to get too many subjects mixed into one!

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