Some notes about the selection process in the Church of England
How Does Selection work?
I thought people might be interested in what happens when someone begins to think that God is calling them to the ordained ministry. Usually people will first confide in their immediate family and close friends.
Vocation to what?
Often people become convinced that God is calling them to something in particular but are not sure what that something is. One's vicar and the Deanery Vocations Advisor will help here. Other people are also available, and there are Vocation Conferences intended to help with that discernment.
Becoming a Candidate
Once one has decided to offer oneself for ordination the first 'official' approach is usually to:
one's own vicar, who will talk through the implications, and, if happy, refer one to:
the Deanery Vocations Advisor, who will have
a conversation covering a wide ground before passing one on to:
the Archdeaconry Vocations Advisor who will have conversations, probably several, with the candidate.
If all these people think that the candidate may well have a vocation to the priesthood, then he or she will be referred to a Diocesan panel. At this stage the form filling begins - the panel will require:
a spiritual biography, a summary of one's theology, a life line (list of significant events in one's life), and other personal information
references from people with different sorts of knowledge of the candidate, including their vicar.
approval from the PCC.
The panel, consisting of three people, including at least one priest and one lay person, and at least one of each sex, conducts an in depth interview before advising the Bishop whether or not the candidate is ready to go to a national Selection Conference.
Time to Grow
The process is quite a long one and it is intended to give people time to grow in their relationship with God, in their understanding of what God wants of them, and in emotional maturity.
The Selection Conference
This is a residential three day event consisting of sixteen candidates divided into two sets of eight with three selectors to each half, who must have no connection with the candidates. A fresh set of documents and references will be submitted and during the three days there will be one to one interviews with each Selector, written tests, group exercises and general observation.
The Pastoral Selector will be especially concerned to establish that the candidate has sufficient emotional maturity and has begun to deal with any past hurts or problems which could surface inappropriately.
The Educational Selector will try to decide whether the candidate can cope with the learning involved, which is as much to do with attitude as with mental ability.
The Senior Selector will concentrate on spiritual maturity and the reality of the candidate's vocation, though all three selectors will be concerned with this.
The Selectors' Recommendation
The Selectors may recommend for pre-ordination training, recommend for training subject to conditions such as further experience, or not recommend. The idea is not to compare candidates with each other or with a general 'standard' but to try to decide whether ordination is what God wants for this person. It is the Bishop, though, who makes the decision.
Pre-ordination Course Assessment
Selection is not yet over because the recommendation is for training and the college or course will report on the student to the Bishop yearly, and recommend towards the end of the final year whether the student should be ordained Deacon.
Finally towards the end of the Deacon year, the vicar will recommend to the Bishop whether the Deacon should proceed to priesting. The churchwardens will also be consulted.
Preparation for Ordained Ministry
The whole selection procedure can take several years and in itself can help to prepare people for their ordained ministry.
Pamela Hardman, Curate, St. Michael's, Bramhall
(Thank you, Pamela, for letting us reproduce this article)