Dear members of St. Alban’s,
When I began my ministry I went straight from the book learning of seminary at the university to being the priest of two small, highly conflictual churches. I was not ready and I made some terrible mistakes.
A curacy is when a diocese places a new grad (who will soon be ordained as a priest) as a learning assistant at a church to benefit from the guidance and direction of a solid congregation and a more experienced priest. When I graduated there was a curacy available that I applied to. However, it fell through and I went straight into full time ministry. The diocese I was in at the time had recently decided to stop subsidising curacies. I wish I had had this opportunity.
I am pleased the leadership of our diocese is seeing curacies as a priority. Jonathan Pinkney was raised up to ministry at St. Alban’s and has had the benefit of a curacy at the cathedral. He and his future congregations will benefit.
St. Alban’s has been identified as strong and healthy parish and has been approached by the diocese with the request that we host a curacy for the next two years, starting in September. I was approached first, as rector, and given the opportunity to decline the invitation outright. I was open to the conversation, so the wardens and treasurer were approached next. There was negotiation back and forth between the wardens and treasurer and the diocese about the finances of supporting a curacy. The diocese responded by increasing their subsidy significantly to make a curacy affordable for St. Albans, as well as suggesting the curacy position be shared part time with another church.
The Parish Council discussed and voted in favour of hosting a curacy for the next two years.
As a final step, both of the involved churches will have a warden and the rector meet with the potential curate to have a conversation and ensure this person would be a good fit for the churches, and that the churches would be a good fit for this person.
I’m writing this both to bring you up to date, and also to give an opportunity to answer questions or concerns. Below I’ve copied a few I’ve heard so far. If you have more, please email me at email@example.com
Thank you to those who have contacted me directly when having questions. This is especially helpful because, if one person has a question, likely there are others who also have the same question. Here’s a few that have been asked, so far:
Would the curate be taking over ministries that other people are involved in? (Including reading the Gospel, the readings, the Prayers of the People, or taking control of current groups)
No. The curate would be here to learn priestly ministry. (The curate did not train for vocational diaconate, but for priestly ministry, and is on track to be ordained as a priest in December). The curate would not be taking ministry away from the congregation. The curate would be on rotation leading priestly parts of the service that the rector is currently leading, and would be given the opportunity to lead things like Bible Study or to begin new groups or ministries.
Where would Rev. Greg find the time to supervise a curate?
Once we move to live-streamed services, this will free up a significant amount of time. In addition, as the curate would engage in ministry (for example, being on a rotation for preaching or leading Bible Study or leading Evening Prayer), this would free up time. Also, a group of congregation members would be meeting with the curate to offer guidance and feedback, which will share in the supervision (as well as offer a better learning experience).
Would we see less of Rev. Greg?
Rev. Greg would continue in his work at St. Alban’s much as before, though he would also be sharing aspects of ministry with the curate (such as leading aspects of worship and Bible Studies).
Has our treasurer been involved and can we afford this?
Yes, our treasurer has been involved and is supportive. We are confident that we would be able to afford this position, as it is highly subsidised by the diocese. In fact, this is the most financial support our diocese has ever given to support a curacy. We would not be dipping into the capital of the CTF, but would be using some of the gains from the CTF. We would also have the benefit of additional ministry to vitalise our parish, at a fraction of what it would normally cost.
Why two years?
This is the length of time offered to us for a curacy, as decided by the diocese.
What if the curate and the rector disagree on something?
I believe in the adult learning model and would encourage a curate to try things and have the freedom of making mistakes. However, as rector I would be guiding this process and intervening when necessary. If we disagree on something important (like the handling of a pastoral situation) the curate is to discuss with me and follow my direction as rector and supervisor.
When I was an archdeacon, I was involved in several churches interviewing new rectors. Some complained about the lack of ideal candidates they had been given to interview. Curacies are an opportunity for healthy churches to improve the leadership skills of the diocese directly.
Please keep asking your questions! I value your experience, thoughts, ideas, wisdom, and feedback.