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Archive for the tag “ordination”

Bishop Alan’s Blog: Vicarage Allsorts: Clergy Supply

Bishop Alan’s Blog: Vicarage Allsorts: Clergy Supply:

After 30 years of designer angst about clergy shortages I am amazed that this should be so, but the simple fact is that there are actually more active C of E collars on the streets of England in 2005 than in 1959. I don’t know about you, but this surprised me. It also strikes me as the kind of raw figure that won’t be of any interest to Fleet Street, because it neither provokes fear and anguish, nor validates their prejudices and fantasies about the C of E.

The distribution, however has entirely changed. The preponderance is distributed more, I would guess, according to population. The bad story then was rural/urban. Now I would anticipate it to be North/West as against South/East. There are far fewer full time collars of the conventional sort, but far more retired active and self supporting. Looking ahead this means their shelf life and deployability is far lower. People in the 1960’s complained that vicars were too young and inexperienced about the rest of life. Now they complain that they’re all on second careers. You can’t have it both ways! Or can you? Training needs, however are radically different.

The report Bishop Alan was quoting was picked up by a journalist of the Sunday Telegraph to produce an alarmist report quoted by Fr David MacGregor, and prompted Bishop Alan to take the mickey Bishop Alan’s Blog:

The most important person in a business is always, in a way, the person on the front desk. The wellbeing of clergy is, in that obvious sense among others, vital to the wellbeing of the Church. Since Chaucer’s time there’s been public anxiety about this subject. 200 years ago Sidney Smith lamented the decline in the quality of clergy since the enforcement of residence was preventing gentlemen from desiring ordination. In the roaring 20’s, Hensley Henson bemoaned the decline in the quality of ordinands since the first world war. The document quoted in last week’s Sunday Telegraph, however, is barking up a very different tree. A more accurate headline than “poor quality of vicars alarms church leaders” would probably be “desperation to dramatize drab HR questionnaire twits journalist.”

I find this interesting because though it was a different time and a different place, 30 years ago I was responsible for training self-supporting clergy in the Anglican Diocese of Zululand, and I thought most people in the diocese had the wrong idea of the role of self-supporting vis a vis church supported clergy.

Many parishes had anything between 5 and 30 “outstations”, and the clergy would itinerate to celebrate the Eucharist. I thought each outstation should have, if possible, 2 or more self-supporting priests and 2 or more deacons. The “rector” (who need not necessarily be ordained) should be a pastor/teacher (a somewhat different kind of ministry) equipped to train and support the clergy at the outstations, and itinerate for training and teaching, not sacraments.

That was the sort of thing advocated by Roland Allen in his book Missionary methods, St Paul’s or ours? nearly 100 years ago, but never really put into practice anywhere. I still think it should be applied, mutatis mutandis, in Orthodox mission, though in practice it would need to be modified. It is difficult to have self-supporting clergy, since most of them would be among the urban unemployed.

Among Anglicans in South Africa there may have been similar patterns. In 1971 a book was published. The vanishing clergyman : a sociological study of the priestly role in South Africa by Trevor Verryn. He noted a marked decline in the number of Anglican ordinands in training. Within a year or two of the publication of his book, the trend was dramatically reversed, as a result of the spread of the charimatic renewal movement, and at least one of the Anglican theological colleges in South Africa had to be enlarged to cope with the influx of new students, most of them married and entering second careers.

There was a similar study to Verryn’s in the Church of England, The fate of the Anglican clergy: a sociological study by Robert Towler (London, Macmillan, 1979). Though it was published eight years later, the period of study was similar to Verryn’s; Bob Towler followed the 1966 intake of five Anglican theological colleges in England over the next 10 years. I was one of them.

It was quite an interesting period, and I suspect one of great change in outlook for many — the time of hippies, of student power. Now most of those in Towler’s study will be approaching retirement, and it might be interesting to see what has happened to them and how their views have changed. How did they change the church, and how did the church change them?

Three-fold ministry and five-fold ministry

My blogging friend John Smulo once posted something in his blog about the five-fold ministry of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, and he posted “job descriptions” for each of them.  His blog seems to have disappeared, so I can’t refer you to what he wrote.

I originally posted the following as a comment in his blog, and then thought I would post it here as well, in the hope of getting comments from my Orthodox readers (all two of them!), who might be able to point out whether I have allowed any heresies to creep in.

The Orthodox Church has a distinction between ministries of order, ordained ministries – the three-fold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and the charismatic ministries, of which the five-fold ministry is a sub-set (one could add, for example, healing).

It is quite possible for people to have more than one ministry, of both types. Philip, for example, was a deacon and evangelist.

I think John Smulo’s job descriptions are OK in practice, but not in theory. Good in application, but bad in principle.

Again, that might just be an Orthodox take on it, and it might look different from where he is. The thing is, the Church never “hires” apostles, prophets, evangelists etc. The Holy Spirit does. The Church never said “We have a vacancy for a prophet: here is the job description. Qualified candidates please apply.”

Jeremiah didn’t apply. God told him.

And so from the Orthodox point of view, the charismatic ministries are recognised by the Church, ex post facto. No one is “ordained” as an apostle. But when the Church recognises that someone has had an apostolic ministry (played an important role in church-planting), then they are called (usually after they are dead) “Equal-to-the-Apostles”.

So Nikolai Kasatkin, a 19th century missionary to Japan, is now called “Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Japan”. Mary Madgalene, first witness to the resurrection, is also called “Equal-to-the-Apostles” (sucks to The da Vinci code).

If you look at most of the people who are called apostles etc., you will find that they have fitted the job description. But they weren’t given the job description in advance and asked to sign on the dotted line.

When St Nina of Georgia was taken as a slave to Georgia she no doubt hoped that God would use her and be with her, but she never imagined that centuries later people would be singing about her as “Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia”.

By their fruits shall ye know them, not by their job descriptions.

For more on this, and how the “charismatic” ministries relate to other ministries, see Ministries in the Church | Khanya.

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