Rector's Letter for October

Dear Sisters and Brothers,


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Among the various articles in this month’s edition of the Magazine, you will find one by Hannah Lane. Hannah is an ordinand, a candidate for the priesthood. The way we train people for anything changes over time. Apprentices used to spend seven years watching and slowly doing whatever trade they were learning. Now they go off to work and have day release woven into their contract. Teachers used to learn their subject, go to teacher training college and then hit the classroom. Now, one option is to plunge straight into work once their subject studies have been completed. When I was training for the priesthood, the usual route was to drink deeply from the tradition in two/three years residential formation; some folks were trained, as indeed Sheila Beattie was, by evening, weekend and weekly study periods. Now there is a new kid on the block (actually an 11 year old kid); St Mellitus.

Now, as you all know, St Mellitus was the first Bishop of London (d 624 AD) and the theological college which takes his name was founded for ordinands in London and Chelmsford Dioceses. There are a number of St Mellitus centres, the North West one being in the grounds of Liverpool Cathedral. The training route is different from previous approaches. Students receive teaching a day a week. They study two days a week at home. And they then spend the rest of their time (barring a rest day), in the parlance of the training, Sunday + two days on placement;. And Hannah has come here on placement.

What does this mean? It means, above all, that Hannah is here to learn. She is not the “finished article” (I’m pretty sure that none of us are that). Whereas Sheila took up her role among us as one who had been through training, Hannah is learning; learning about the tradition, the faith, through study and writing and thinking and praying; learning about the practice of ministry and priesthood, through watching, and trying and asking.

Which is where you, dear reader, come in. If you’ve done the maths, you will have spotted that half Hannah’s training is with us. We have the task of helping shape and form Hannah, to share with her the hopes and expectations we hold as to what a clergy person should be like, what we expect from them, need from them, would like from them. Hannah will learn as you share with her those ideas that float around in your head. In other words, you are key to her growth and development. Crudely put, the vicars we get in the future will be the vicars we deserve because they will be the vicars we ourselves have created. It’s quite a thought. No pressure, then.

So, can I ask you to make yourself known to Hannah? Make her feel welcome. She is the guest, we the host. Our task is to approach, to begin the conversation, to talk, to invite her into our spaces, our homes, to help her understand why this faith community means what it means to us. Having Hannah around will challenge us to think about why we come here. We will need to learn to put those thoughts into words.

Hannah and I will be meeting regularly as part of her training. I look forward to hearing her experience of life among us. Her days around Bury will be Wednesdays and Fridays.

With love and prayers,