Benefice of Holy Innocents, Great Barton and St Peter's, Thurston

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Being an Ordinand

1 April 2019

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Being an Ordinand

You may well be wondering, ‘What on earth is an ordinand?!’ And I’m not surprised!

‘Ordinand’ is the title given to someone training to become a Priest and there are many pathways available to undertake that training. For me it has meant one year of exploring and study in spirituality and worship, formation, education and placements.

Let’s start with education! I have been gifted with a year’s study into a whole range of topics from Christian doctrine (why the church does and believes the things she does), to mission and apologetics, from texts and traditions in Christian spirituality to ethics and why and how the church takes any stand on moral issues.

It is a full-on, weekly residential course that takes me away from my family and home into a community at Ridley Hall College in Cambridge, and although it means I do miss my family (and I’m sure most of the time they miss me!), it enables me to have the gift of space in which to study and learn alongside others from all denominations and church traditions. This gives me a deeper perspective and understanding of our broad Church family that is so important.

The biggest surprise, for me, has been the Texts and Traditions Module which allowed us to step into a wide range of expressions of faith covering, for example, the Martyrs, Desert Fathers, Benedict and my very favourite, Hildegard of Bingen. If you get a chance, look her up – she was quite an amazing woman from the turn of the 12th century. All have in common a desire to find a closer way to follow Christ and we can learn so much from them as Christians traveling towards the same goal.

Being away for my study has enabled me to live in a community with all the challenges and blessings that that can bring. This is crucial for ‘Formation’. But what, you may ask, does that even mean?

Well, it is very easy to become entrenched in an understanding of oneself, and as we are all called to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ, it is wonderful to take time out to see yourself as others do, warts and all. It can be a vulnerable place to be, as you learn to live alongside others, morning to night, and it is within this intensity that you are shaped. But where better to do it than within the loving community of fellow Ordinands! Everyone wants the best for everyone else, and that is what God calls us to be like in any community.

Within this community we worship and pray together and take on leadership roles to try out what that feels like before we take the next step of being ordained as a deacon and move into a curacy post to continue our training. Developing a strong pattern for worship and prayer is essential for all Christians, let alone one who is called to shepherd others as a priest is. Without a strong God foundation we would soon ‘run on empty’ by relying on our own strength alone. So morning

prayer is a must, evening prayer is always welcome, as well as prayer groups and support networks that help us to shape and grow that pattern.

Lastly, there are the placements. I have yet to undertake my Social Context Placement, but I have been at Great Barton and Thurston Benefice as my Church Placement since September 2018. Here, formation continues as you learn what can work (or what isn’t so successful!), and I have had the opportunity of being within a different tradition from that which I came from. It is a place to ask questions like ‘Why do you worship in this way?’ or ‘What does church mean for you?’ It is a great place to learn under the welcome, support and guidance of Rev’d Crossman, the church and the broader community.

I see my placement here as a gift, one that I have relished and appreciated, so from this ordinand to you all, ‘Thank you!’

Susan Allison