It's been an intense day today, with a lot of input, handouts, and sitting around listening to people! I realise it's necessary this early, as it's pretty much the only way to give us a lot of information that we need to understand how things work, but I am looking forward to when things become a little more interactive!
This morning was a lot about the process of ministerial formation - basically, taking the nine Criteria for Selection that form the basis of the discerning process before being recommended for training, expanding them into various areas of development that should happen during training, and how to assess progress and growth in each area (which takes place largely through personal reflection, alone and with relevant others). This is of vital importance, as, with all the academic work that needs to be done, it can be easy to become so focused on the latter that the former is neglected. But, of course, I am not in training to achieve a degree from Oxford University - I am in training to become and ordained priest in the Church of England. The process of ministerial formation is crucial in keeping the focus where it needs to be.
That said, the academic side of it is important as well, and we heard about the structure of the Theology degree this afternoon. There are 16 of us doing the BTh (others in my year are doing different academic courses), which is the largest number for some time, I believe. We have various lectures to go to (including some in Oxford), and a weekly seminar (in groups of 8), for which we all need to prepare an essay. So yes, that means I will be writing an essay a week!
Finally today, we met with some of the 2nd years doing the same course to hear their perspectives on it, having had a year's experience. It's going to be hard work, no doubt, but they gave us some survival tips! I have to say, though, that I'm a little worried - not because I'm daunted by the prospect, but because I'm not daunted. Some of the other ordinands were expressing various feelings, and the 2nd years were saying they were not to worry - they'd all been there, and it was good to be feeling what they were feeling.
The things is: I'm not feeling that at all - I'm just excited at the prospect of being here, studing theology, drawing closer to God (and being changed through that), and the whole being prepared for ordained ministry! Maybe this is due to my having already had nine years of licensed ministry within the CofE, maybe not. And I know we can't (or shouldn't) pretend to be feeling things that we're not. Maybe the excitement will wear off or be replaced by other feelings soon enough.
But what I do think is important is this: while I feel excited and energised and close to God, I need to be supporting those of my peers who are feeling under pressure, scared, daunted or whatever else. This is part of what it means to be at a residential college - we are all going through the same process, and need to develop that interdependence that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 12 (the church as the Body of Christ). I feel strong now, so can support those who feel weak; and when I feel weak (which will surely happen at some point in the next two years), then I will be able to look to others for support from their strength.
2 days ago