Fourth Year

As I have now entered the fourth, and hopefully final, year of curacy, I thought it was about time for an update (seeing as this blog is supposed to be a record of my curacy journey)!

As I posted in the September last year, I have been trying to think and reflect a lot more about Self Supporting Ministry, and reading as many books as I can find on the subject (and there aren’t an awful lot). Part of the upshot of this was a realisation that I needed to give my day job (and ministry there) more respect – it isn’t something I can just fit in on top of a leadership role and parish ministry.

So my final year of curacy is going to have a somewhat different shape – instead of working 4 days a week in paid employment, and then spending on day a week at church doing parish things, I am rather going to continue in my 4 days a week at work (albeit different days), and then have the other day a week to build in some time and space. To be honest, curacy has been a real struggle in terms of my own head-space, and I have found it really hard not having time on my own to process stuff. I guess the final straw came for me when I realised that I wasn’t giving my best at work, or behaving in the way I wanted to towards my colleagues, because I was essentially running on empty.

I’m anticipating that this change will allow to me to be a bit more intentional in both resourcing and exploring what (priestly) ministry in the (secular) workplace might be about.

In practical terms, it means I have now stepped back from parish ministry and being a member of the staff team at church (which has been an interesting experience in itself). I am very much still a licensed member of clergy, and continue with leading services and preaching – these are things which I believe are at the heart of the ministry God is calling me to. However I am no longer particularly involved in the pastoral and occasional offices, or indeed any specific area of ministry, or church governance (except that I still serve on PCC and Deanery Synod).

Of course, this beautiful new plan was all pre-covid19 – and while I have indeed stepped back from parish ministry, it has been replaced with a perfect storm at my paid job, and home schooling on my days not at work, as well as supporting my wife as a front-line worker. The picture since the start of term in September has been slightly better – work has calmed down, and I have had a couple of Fridays to myself; but to be honest life is still pretty tough in our household, as I know it is for lots of households.

One thought on “Fourth Year

  1. Hi James. Sound reasoning. One of the points stipendiary colleagues often overlook is that they are expected to ‘work’ 5 days each week, including Sunday. The remaining 2 days are a day off / rest day and a day to be spent in study (or what we in secular employment call CPD!) I find it helpful to see each day as 3 sessions also: morning, afternoon and evening, with one of these being for rest and recreation (a great word to ponder). I find this a sound basis for a work / life balance that enables me to give my best to work, parish and family. When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment he drew attention to a second greatest – love your neighbour as yourself. A useful way of looking at this one is that if we cannot love ourselves – living so as to keep body, mind and spirit in as good working order as possible – how can we effectively love our neighbour?


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