About Me

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I was commissioned as a Church Army Officer in 2000, and spent 9 years working in parishes, mainly with children and families. In 2009, I began ordination training at Ripon College Cuddesdon. I married Clare in July 2000, and our first child, Nathan, arrived on September 22nd 2010.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Formation & Theology

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.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Induction underway!

Today has seen the first full day of induction week, after term officially began last night with tea, followed by a Eucharist. The Eucharist was very moving; there was a real sense of the Holy Spirit's presence, bringing a sense of peace amongst us, as we felt the awesomeness of just what God has called us to!

We've had a chance to meet the staff, where I discovered yet another family connection - one of the staff members was at the same Oxford college as my sister, Sam, at the same time. There are a lot of these connections popping up in Cuddesdon!

We've also heard a bit about the history of the college, and been introduced to the way of the Common Room - including how the bar system operates! (Very important!) And then, this evening, we had an introduction to the liturgical settings used for Evening Prayer. Whoever leads Evening Prayer has to sing the opening line of each canticle solo - something I'm not looking forward to doing when it's my turn!

The weekend will be comparatively quiet - the College Principal (Martyn Percy) is hosting a drinks reception at his house for newcomers tomorrow, and then Sunday will see the first Eucharist of term at the Parish Church, All Saints. Then induction week continues with a vengeance on Monday...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Almost ready to start!

We're nearly there! Term finally gets underway this Thursday - and I am definitely ready for it! We're well settled in, and have met lots of great people here as we have become part of the college community. For example, just this afternoon, there have been a good 30-40 ordinands and families picking the apples off the trees in the college orchard. These will then be taken to be made into apple juice, which the college then sells. While it was going on, Clare & I took a moment to look around the field at all the activity, and we both had this real warm feeling inside that was simply, "yes, this is where we're meant to be". It felt good!

It all kicks into gear on Thursday, as we begin Induction. There are lots of things going to be happening over the first week - we've got a programme - and a lot of it begins, "Introduction to..."! So we'll have an introduction to the Common Room; to Evening Prayer, to College, Training & Formation; to Biblical Studies; etc, etc! No doubt it will all become clear as each day goes along!

We start with a welcome Eucharist at the Parish Church on Thursday afternoon, followed by supper and a chance to get to know people (many of the single ordinands don't arrive until Thursday, so it will be an especially big day for them, meeting so many new people). Friday morning begins with the first 7.30am Morning Prayer - what is a daily event, so no more lie-ins for me after that (except Saturdays!) And then we go into the first of the many "Introductions".

Now that things are kicking off, I will be much more regular with my blog entries. If there's ever anything which prompts a question in your mind, do use the "comments" section, or send me an e-mail if you have my address. Thanks for all the prayers up until now - please don't stop as college starts; I have a feeling they will be needed more than ever!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Morning Prayer

I knew before coming to Cuddesdon that the Daily Offices (both Morning and Evening Prayer) play an important part in the life of the college.

But it has been a pleasant surprise to find that a number of ordinands have kept Morning Prayer going through the holiday period. It is held at 9am (rather than the 7.30am it will be when term starts), and is in the parish church, rather than the college chapel.

I have been going every morning since finding out about it, and have also led it a couple of times. We use the Common Worship form of Morning Prayer, which, of course, is what is used by the staff team at St. Mark's Biggin Hill. So I am very familiar with it!

But it has been a real blessing to me, both in meeting with God during this "waiting time" (until term starts), and in feeling like I am becoming part of the college community. There's something about corporate prayer - especially with fellow ordinands - that is missing in my own personal quiet times. So praise God for this opportunity to pray regularly with others!