Sunday, December 17, 2006

Who would want to be a vicar?

Well, after attending the diocesan vocations day, I really do start to wonder. Having been told that I would be lonely, that the work was tough and that I would hardly have time off, I realised that they were not really selling this to me. I came away with little idea of what a vicar does day-to-day, little conviction of what skills were requiered and little guidance given to my suitability.

What personal feedback I got was a little offensive. Over dinner a female vicar asked me what I did for a career. I said 'Journalist' at which point she told me that she has a journalist in her congregation who said that anything she said is in the public domain so can be published. She made it quite clear that this was obviously true for me and therefore I should not be trusted. I commented about my experiences of bias at Premier Radio and she said that all journalists were biased. I said that under the OfCom code it was illegal for broadcasters not to be fair and on the whole they succeed. She tutted and looked away. Next, I asked her what job she did when she was an unpaid minister in the church and she said that the church was her full life though, it transpired, she worked at a bank but the air of 'mightier and better than thou' remained. So when, we discussed how services should be run and she told me that they all had to be the same as routine led to profoundness, I remained silent. This was interesting but I disagree as this leaves no room for the individual to express themselves. Her moral judgements about my career were depressing and shortsighted. Her air of disapproval were marked (though I am not sure always intentional).

So this was not a good start as to how I view selection. The whole process seems archaic to put it politely; there are seven different stages before you are selected for training followed by three years training (full-time) which is then followed by at least two years as a Deacon then a curate before being given your own parish. This is a very long process and a lot of it seemed to be a bout what 'THEY' (the church hierachy) perceived as my skills and my calling rather than what I did. Whilst anyone can convince themselves that they are suited to a role this did seem an extreme way of testing it.

A good friend of mine (thanks T) said to me recently that to contemplate a career change like that was a tad radical and that you have to be very sure before contemplating it. As he pointed out, I am also somewhat obsessive about news. Most people do not stay up all night for general election coverage. And particularly election coverage on the other side of the world. I'm also quite a good journalist, to be honest (did I mention I got a distinction? Pride, another sin) and it would be a shame not to use those skills.

Another friends (indeed, another T) thinks that I should just go for it. L thinks that nothing (gender, sexuality, background) should stop people 'doing God's work.' They are both right but in the end, I need to get to the stage where I am ready and comfortable to be challenged. I think that time may come but that time is not necessarily now; a little more wordly experience, a little more life.

Also, to be frank, there are several things that need to be resolved in my personal life before I think they will take me seriously as a candidate. Furthermore, deciding on something so fundemental at a time of change and unemployment may not be the wisest thing so some stability and work in my life would be good before making my mind up.

My final thoughts as I drove home were that this was not the time now but I so know that this will become an issue. I do wonder if the Church in Wales is for me as I have spent most of my time in the Church of England. I think it would be wise to get a job, become involved in a church and perhaps its PCC, work and preaching before committing as my gut reation is that St Asaph is not the place for me.

So, a disappointing day simply as those leading our churches are not always the best at inspiring others to be involved or indeed the best communicators.



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