God is weird: PART 4

An Ordination Candidate’s Experience of The Discernment Process

Where’s My Pigeon Hole?

Back to the process itself. The DDO assigned me a Vocations Advisor (who has since left and I’ve been assigned a new one) whom I met every couple of months to discuss how my discerning is going. These meetings are like a very long three-way job interview. The church is looking at me and I’m looking at the church and myself and we’re all looking to God and asking “Is this right?”

After my first meeting with the DDO it was apparent I knew pretty much nothing about church. This was also confirmed in my meetings with my first Vocations Advisor. We’d been looking at the 9 criteria, a set of qualities which candidates have to show/possess, in order to be considered for training. I stumbled at the second of nine. Not a great start.

I’d have to show “an understanding of my own tradition within the Church of England, an awareness of the diversity of traditions and practice, and a commitment to learn from and work generously with difference”. Tricky, as I didn’t have a tradition. I didn’t fancy (and still don’t fancy) having to decide what kind of Christian I am.

cropped-18275066_10158704804470192_617018777811365687_n.jpg

I was baffled by the various pigeon holes people occupied and what this meant in terms of theology, worship styles and whether one puts one’s hands in their air while singing or not. I’d be flattered to be described as charismatic, but had no idea this had anything to do with the Holy Spirit. The term Evangelical had, in my limited understanding, been hijacked by aggressive hate preachers in America. Maybe I once watched a documentary about it. Maybe Louis Theyroux was in it.

I now realise this couldn’t be further from the truth, and I now see myself as very aligned with elements of this tradition. Anglo-Catholic still confused me because there was such mystery in it all, but I liked the idea of predictable structure and fancy outfits (the Army in me). Apparently there’s much more to it than that.  Indeed, so much more. I now see myself as very aligned with elements of this tradition too.

Furthermore, B.1 (Candidates should have knowledge and understanding of the Church of England) and B.3 (Candidates should have an understanding of ministry within the Church of England) made me again question why, oh why, a brand new Christian would be put through all of this. There was so much to learn.

Here’s a list of the bizarre church-words and phrases I had to look up  in my first few months as a candidate, because I’d either never heard of them or wasn’t sure of their “church” meaning: chasuble, chancel, vestry, cloisters, slain in the spirit, Brethren, laying on of hands, fellowship, getting alongside, testimony, intercession, eschatology, Emmanuel, Maranatha, Hallelujah, Hosanna, dean, canon, rector, elder, crucifer, anointing, ordinance, ordinand, ecclesiology, episcopal, Episcopalian, epistle, apostle, apostolic, apologetics, missal, canticle, Creed, Calvinist, cincture, liturgy, Pentateuch, 39 articles, Magnificat, matins, Presbyterian, Anglican Communion, Zion, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Luckily I’d served as a linguist and cultural specialist in the Army, so saw this as just another vocabulary to learn.  That said, I feared I’d never be able to convince a panel I knew enough. I could read and read but my veneer of understanding would surely be seen through by even the gentlest of interrogations at BAP. They’d know I was a fraud.

Crash Course on Church at Cranmer Hall

September came around quickly and I’d moved the last of my boxes home, had hung up my uniform, and had enrolled at Cranmer Hall. This exposure was just what I needed. Each day began with Morning Prayer in the chapel which smelled dreamily of incense, where I had to wrestle with a colourfully beribboned book and unfamiliar words, and Tuesday evenings were all about informal worship, heartily sung modern worship songs accompanied by a band, and Communion with real pieces of actual bread. It was all rather mind-blowing. I loved it.

13434900_10157095387890192_6477516743531771572_n

I was at Cranmer Hall for a year, and in that time I took modules in the Old and New Testaments, Mission and Evangelism (I got sent away on a mystery mission for 24 hours with no money which you can read about later), and preaching. I chose these modules because if I wasn’t recommended at BAP and couldn’t afford to continue my degree, at least I’d have some really useful practical skills to use as a lay person in my local church. This forethought proved worthy, as I’d soon find out.

By the spring term I was quite unwell and for a variety of reasons (I’ve written blogs on this, check the homepage) I had to leave. 

This was traumatic. I loved the community and all the staff. My head was full of new learning and ideas, and I felt I was being stretched in all the right ways. But alas, I couldn’t continue, so I told the Warden, who was very understanding, and I stepped out into a scary world of great uncertainty, wondering what on earth had just happened. What do I do now?

I just didn’t understand it. No job, no money, no more studying. Wasn’t this what God had wanted? 

I was unwell and very sad, and so very confused by my calling. 

2 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 8,468 hits
Follow camouflage and cassocks on WordPress.com

Want to read the next one? Enter your email address to follow.

Join 590 other followers

Categories

Instagram

In her mother's footsteps at the Dog. Proud moment. The girl's got moves. #newcastle #familytime #christmastrip #dogandparrot #pinktriangle #hermothersdaughter
Annual Christmas trip to Newcastle, this time with Santa Baby. As I don't want to be disrespectful to my parents I won't mention anything about how drunk my Dad got. I'll just say we had some top quality family time together! And my daughter spent much of it asleep, or dancing on tables.
Me and my mini-me at the big annual winter leaf gather in Stanhope Park 🍃🍂 #community #autumnleaves #rakeitgreatagain #thebigrake #leaves #park #mummydaughter #woolhat #knitwear #ontrend #mustardyellow
Saturdays with my girl. Mama's milk✔ Porridge✔ Nappies to put back together✔ Cooking shows on tv✔ Cat✔ Hot cup of tea❌ Don't be ridiculous! When did I last drink one of those?! And even when they're hot, it's only because they've been microwaved at least twice. 🦖 #saturday #motherhood #realparenting #stripes #breastfeeding #cupoftea #clothbum #clothnappies #fillyourpants #laundrynotlandfill #reusablediapers #reusablenappies #reuse #recycle #repurpose
Up close and personal #meandmybabygirl #motherdaughter #minisanta #kisses
Sometimes she just rolls her eyes at us and sighs. #week17 #17weeks #4monthsold #parenting #realparenting #parenthood #bambina #bebe
Family trip to Newcastle to eat fish, drink wine and not do Christmas shopping. #bambinomio #fish #fenwick #newcastle #16weeksold #fishbar #breastfeeding
Today feels like a plaits kinda day #hairstyles #plaits #nevertoooldforbraids
Coffee with my girl. #3generations #motherdaughter
So excited that this wonderful human is going to baptize our baby next year. Elizabeth is one lucky little lady. @gemsampson #famousfriend #hartlepool #priest #baptism #cofe #love #feedthehungry
This little bear has already got the hang of shopping trips. Being carried around a retail park in your mother's arms while you sleep is THE way to do it. #shoptilyoudrop #3monthsold #sleepybaby
A Saturday in Autumn #autumn #autumnleaves #autumnwalks #brunch #saturday
The Great Fireworks Getaway 2018. This year we were very fortunate to be able to stay at our friend's cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Peaceful, quiet and far any from any noises. Oh and of course really beautiful. #nonfirenight #peaceandquiet #countryside #northyorkshire #thedales #veteran #ptsd
Well it looks like someone enjoyed their mini break! #familyholiday #cottage #northyorkshire #yorkshiredales #baby #happybaby #laughingbaby
So impressed by all the effort my amazing sister in law @kat_d_1983 went to for the Halloween party. There are spiders and cobwebs in our house too, but not for decorative effect. Loved our family time. Here are a few spooky pics. 😱👻👹🧟‍♀️ #halloweenmakeup #familygoals #spiders #baby #boo
%d bloggers like this: