I probably mentioned earlier in the year that our diocese has a new Officer for Ministry, who is responsible both for ordinands in training and the newly-ordained during their training years as curates. Rather startlingly he isn't named Michael, as nearly all my clerical bosses have been (bishop, placement vicar during training, previous Director of curate training plus my utterly wonderful training incumbent), but he has risen above this potential handicap to orchestrate some very good training days, and was a hugely helpful presence on our ordination retreat as well. Now he has come up with a very exciting idea, which might just mean that I can get to meet one or two of my transatlantic blog friends irl.
As from now, the diocese would like all curates to undertake a placement away from their home turf at some time during their curacy...and it can be anywhere in the Anglican Communion (though the diocese is not offering to help with air fares).
Having served as a Reader for 10 years in a very rural context, undertaken my pre ordination placement in one of the few urban priority areas that this diocese boasts, and having also worked for some time as a lay member of the chaplaincy team at the local hospital, I really do think that I'd probably learn most by stepping out of Gloucester diocese altogether. I have no leaning towards chaplaincy work in education or industrial chaplaincy...and suspect, for all my excitement and delight in emerging church, that I'm very much part of a both/and style of ministry, so would probably not derive too much benefit from a purely emerging context (even setting aside the "Anglican Communion" stricture).
However, I'm constantly fascinated and excited by the feeling that congregations on the far side of the Atlantic are ready and willing to engage in constant learning about their faith, as I've never been part of a church community in which this was the norm, and I'd love to see how it feels to be part of a non-established church, in a country where the "C of E default button" doesnt operate.
The expectation is that I would spend about 4 weeks as part of the staff wherever I end up...sharing the tasks of ministry and widening my experience in as many ways as possible. Bed and board would be helpful, but beyond that I'd be an extra pair of ordained hands at no cost...An exchange could work too...With DarlingDaughter departing for university in the autumn, there will be a spare room available at the Curate's house, if anyone would enjoy experiencing suburban AngloCatholic ministry here.
So, how about it?
I'd love to hear any suggestions, recommendations, do's, don'ts...things you wish you had been able to experience before running a parish yourself...anything, really. Clearly, I dont have to go to the States...if you think there's a huge gap that I should fill by a different area of ministry in this country, or anywhere really, I'd love to hear thoughts on that. Please, everyone! This feels like such an amazing opportunity to be given, before I find myself transformed into a Real Live Vicar. Suggestions below...as many as you like.