Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

I've just spent the last three days at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, attending my quinquennial (look it up!) 'Ministry Refresher Conference'.

As is usually the case for me, the high point is the people - catching up with old friends, and making new ones. That said, the Bible studies by Steve Finamore were excellent, and Rachel Haig gave a great opening address.

I have deliberately not spent the whole time with existing friends, and have made a conscious decision at mealtimes to sit on tables with people I don't know. The opening gambits of such conversations follow a pattern as regular and predictable as the opening moves of a game of chess:

1. e2-e4, e7-e5. Where are you from?

2. Ng1-f3, Nb8-c6. South Wales Baptist College.

3. Nb1-c3, Bf8-c5. Oh right... erm... how long have you been there?

4. Bf1-c4, Nc6-d4. I'm just starting my sixth year.

5. Nf3xe5, Qd8-g5. Oh right... erm... that's a long time! Gosh! How many years do you have to do?

6. Ne5xf7, Qg5xg2. Well it depends how long the Lord wants me to be there.

7. Rh1-f1, d7-d6. Oh right... erm... is that how it works at College these days?

8. Nf7xh8, Bc8-g4! Well it does if you're a tutor!

9. Bc8-g4. Oh right... erm... So, you're a tutor! Gosh, they get younger don't they! What do you teach?

10. Nc3-e2. Biblical Studies, mainly New Testament, and my research interest is the Book of Revelation.

11. Nd4-f3. Oh right... erm... Gosh! That's an interesting topic. I once preached through Revelation, well, the letters at the beginning and the end bit, not all that stuff in the middle!


And so on, and so on, and so on.....

But after this fairly standard execution of Pratt's trap (look it up!), things start to get interesting.

And what I have discovered through my unscientific random sample is, to my delight, that my colleagues in ministry are generally sensitive, intelligent, informed people, who think deeply about their faith and take their own spiritual development seriously. This, I think, is a cause for optimism...

The gathering was predominantly male, but with a good smattering of female ministers. It could be more, it should be more, but it's a good start.

I am pleased to be part of a Union which takes the care of its ministers seriously, by providing a conference such as this.

I am also left with a sense of renewed responsibility regarding my own role - as I have been reminded once again of the impact that those three short years in College have on the ministry of those who come to us for ministerial formation. Sometimes it can feel like I'm banging my head against the wall of students, but the evidence of the last three days is that the College years are incredibly formative. I have always felt my call to College was actually a call to the church, and the evidence is that this is so.

As I said, cautiously optimistic...


Craig Gardiner said...

bookworm blog posts like buses ... nothing for a few days and then two at once ... will you go for three in one day!

Craig Gardiner said...

oops just realised i'd read yesterday's post this morning and so thought that it was today's number 1. Still the quesiton remains will you go for three in one

Catriona said...

It was good to see you in the flesh, as defined by BUGB codes of conduct of course, at Swanwick.

Good observations on what was shared, I too found it a positive experience.

(For some reason the security code is 'canst' cans't thou what? I wonder?!!!)