Ever wondered what ordinands get up to over the summer holidays? Below five ordinands reflect on their summer placements.
Social Context Placements.
Royal Navy/Royal Marines.
In July I was one of 3 ordinands to spend time with the chaplains to the Royal Marines at their training base in Lympstone. This was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of what ministry in a very particular context looks like, as well as experiencing ecumenism at its very best. Our time at Lympstone was very varied, chatting to new recruits about their experience of training, visiting them on training exercise and watching a “kings Squad” passing out parade – a significant point for a Royal Marine, marking the completion of their training, which culminates in a 30mile run completed in 8hrs, at the end of which the recruit is awarded the coveted “green lid” (beret). We also had the opportunity to visit Devonport and HMS Sutherland, and 40 Commando in Taunton.
It was a joy to see so many people gathered together in the base’s Chapel for communion.
My time with the Royal Marines has reminded me that those of us who are called to ministry must have a life rooted in prayer so that we can serve in any context that God calls us to; it has made me consider more seriously chaplaincy in a specific context; and the necessity of being present, having a “lightness of touch” and authenticity. Oliver Dempsey.
In the summer I lived on base with three ordinands and we experienced what life is like for members of the RAF. We worked with two Padres and they held talks and discussions about the ethics surrounding war and peace, including the purpose of the military. The staff on the base have to make ethical decisions daily and the chaplains are there to support them with this and help build spiritual resistance. One of the highlights for me was seeing the brand-new planes and even getting to hold one of the high-tech helmets that they use. One evening we joined in a party happening in the junior mess where we were able to talk to the squadies about what chaplaincy meant to them. Completing this SCP helped to shape my stance on pacifism, it offered me space to reflect on my own theological approach to the role of the military within society and I am hoping to complete the Army SCP next year. The main thing that this experience taught me is that there are similarities between parish ministry and chaplaincy. In both situations you are having to sit with people making difficult ethical decisions and part of the calling of a priest is to think through those decisions where there is no perfect answer. Kirsty Borthwick.
Local Parish Placements.
Though I’ve had Parish experience in the past, both as a member of the congregation and as a Pastoral Assistant, my summer placement was a wonderful experience. I was challenged to do things that were way out of my comfort zone; being given the opportunity to put together an evening service of Compline with reflection was great, until I realised I had to sing it! My placement supervisor gave me the confidence to lead, the practice I needed, and the assurance that worship doesn’t have to be pitch perfect (thankfully). Being on a summer placement gives Ordinands the chance to try new things, push themselves, gain confidence in their abilities, and make mistakes. Hannah Richardson.
The Manchester Project.
The ‘Manchester Project’ is a full-time church context placement, up to 6 weeks long, based in Salford in Greater Manchester. Ordinands are attached to various churches across the city, but live together for the duration of the placement. It is intended to combine hands-on involvement with shadowing the work of a parish priest or others in a ministry team. “The project is a fantastic way of engaging with the realities of contemporary urban ministry in the Church of England. Often the churches to which we are attached have diverse congregations but limited financial resources, and yet have so much to offer and teach the wider church: stories of faithfulness and love.
The churches can be very different in tradition and background – Anglo-Catholic, charismatic, big or small. As ordinands, it’s both insightful and a joy to be able to feed-back our experiences each day and consider what it means to be a priest in such a setting. For me the most compelling part was visiting HMP Manchester. I never cease to be inspired by the dedication and determination of all chaplains, but especially those who minister with compassion to people who have committed serious crimes and are often forgotten by the world.” Josh Peckett, Diocese of Leeds
Parish Placements Further Afield.
Ordinand (and Senior Student) John D’Silva writes… “This summer I had a placement in South Shields, where I got involved in parish life there and the holiday club that they were doing. It was great to see how the church can have so many good and fruitful links with the local community.”