July sees a new intake of curates begin their ministry, and a time for all to check up on how we serve our communities, churches and God:
At the end of June we celebrated the ordinations of deacons at Lichfield Cathedral and the ordination of priests in churches throughout the diocese. At the same time, we are busy in the Vocations and Training Team thinking about and preparing for all those who will begin training for ministry, both lay and ordained, in the coming months. At the heart of all we do is the question “who do you say I am?” which Jesus asks in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29, and Luke 9:18-20.)
The last 15 months have been, for many of us, a period of self-discovery. We may have rediscovered our strengths and our weaknesses or a new reliance on God and God’s unbounding love for us; we may have been astounded at our resourcefulness and adaptability, learning new skills and courageously finding new ways of being Church. We may also have found moments of stillness where we have wondered what God is calling us to do and be. Alongside this we have perhaps also rediscovered what it means to be part of community; as the old saying goes ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
Vocations are never formed in isolation. In the Vocations and Training team we come alongside people as they discern their calling and in the case of those exploring ordination and lay licensed ministry we represent, alongside an individual’s local community, the wider body of Christ in which the individual stands before God in the discernment of who is to be sent (Isaiah 6:8). The question of ‘who do people say that I am’ is writ large over the work that we undertake within the team, and our starting point has to be in discipleship. There is something in exploring our vocations about the need to remain open to the Spirit at work and that may come from surprising quarters. There is something about the need to remain open to the ways in which God speaks through others to affirm or to challenge. At its heart preparing for any form of ministry, living out our vocation, is about the qualities we inhabit as disciples of Christ; how open we might be to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of others. It’s an ongoing process. Our vocations may change as we grow in discipleship, and the gifts that God has equipped us with for God’s service grow and develop over time. That is what makes it such a joy!
Revd Dr Jeanette Hartwell
Vocations and Training Team Lead
Find out more about the many kinds of vocation and training in the Church of England via www.lichfield.anglican.org/vocations-and-training/ or the team’s Facebook page, http://facebook.com/Lichfieldvocations