I have been a deacon since 2009 and a priest since 2010.
Sphere of work
I have been a teacher since 1985, work which I continue, now post-retirement, although no longer in the classroom.
Why did you become an SSM/MSE/WP?
I became an MSE because that seemed to be the only route to priesthood open to me. I remain an MSE because over the past 4 years I have come to feel that this is my calling - to be one of the people who maintain the tension of being a priest both in the church and in 'secular' work and 'secular' places of work. The journey from dismay, when I first realised that this would be my calling, to where I am now has been at times difficult, when I have wondered why it had to be that way. My answer to that now is that the church needs some of us to be priests in a variety of contexts beyond the parish, although they do not recognise their need - and I now feel hugely privileged to be called into ministry on the edges as well as in the centre of the institutional church.
What's best about what you do?
I'm fortunate to be able to continue some of the projects I worked on pre-retirement as a freelance, and it's great! I'm still involved with brilliant colleagues, doing work I love and which I believe I'm good at, and I can do it in the context of a ministry which I also love, and which I now have more flexibility to develop - in my work context as well as in the parish.
What's most challenging about what you do?
Resisting the urge to say 'yes' to everything that looks interesting! I can be a bit of a magpie for stimulating projects, and I find it hard to be sensible about what is possible - but that pushes me to plan my time wisely.
If the church asked, what would you say are the three most important things you have learnt from your work-focused ministry?
The three most important things I have learnt from my work-focused ministry - hmm ...
If the church asked, what would you say are the three most important lessons for it which have emerged from your work-focused ministry?
The three most important lessons for the church ...
Why do I think SSM/MSE/WP development in the C of E has been
so lacklustre so far?
Because they are wedded to the parish model, and don't have the imagination to look outside it. The whole system, from training, to finding jobs post-curacy, to supporting ministers is rooted in the model of the parish priest. The good thing about us is that they don't have to pay us, provide for our pensions, or find housing for us. Otherwise - well, we're not deployable and they can't control our working hours, which puts us to quite a large extent outside the system. So it's easier to use us and otherwise ignore us than to engage with us.
What is it that SSM/MSE/WPs can contribute to the mission of the church today?
I don't know. What can we contribute to the missio Dei - a lot! The church needs to get over itself, and to realise that God is working with it and without it, and that there's a lot going on which the parish model has nothing to say to or about. Our role should include a prophetic role, in which we tell it like it is to the church, and help widen the boundaries of what church encompasses.
What do you think SSM/MSE/WPs need to receive from the church in order to be effective in their unique ministry?
Not to be treated as 2nd class ministers for a start. Recognition that we bring something very important into the church. A bigger vision of what priesthood means.
Actually, I think we can be effective without these - which is just as well, if I'm right, because I don't see the church changing any time soon.
Would I do it all again?
YES. Oh, yes. I love being me, I'm so thankful to have this calling, despite my earlier efforts to escape it. I've come to see that there is something very precious about being called by God to this particular way of working with him. To him be the glory.