This blog is intended to provide a space to reflect on my last year of education for the ministry of word and sacrament in the United Reformed Church (URC). During this year I will complete my studies at the University of Edinburgh for the degree of Master of Theology, including writing a dissertation reflecting on the particular vocation of my denomination as seen through the lens of its debates on sexuality and ordination. I will be offered introductions to a church or churches and, all being well, accept a call. I will attend another year of courses in the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College (SURCC) and, again subject to the will of God and of the board of that college, be given the certificate that will qualify me for ordination in the URC. I will also complete at least one more placement at a church under the supervision of an experienced minister and guided by the goals set for me by the College.
In all there should be a lot for me to reflect on as I prepare to begin my ministry about 12 months from now. I will be thinking in the University context about the theological meaning of the church’s activity and about the relationship between this and ethical and political issues. In the SURCC I will be engaged in discussion with my fellow URC ordinands and with the staff and invited leaders, on ministry within the institutions and traditions of the URC (dissenting, Reformed, Congregational and Presbyterian, multi-national). These will be in dialogue with my experience of working within a congregation.
I hope that by adopting a practice of occasional writing in a semi-public form like this I can encourage myself to wring the most out of this crucial last year of preparation. The role of the minister of word and sacrament is a perplexing one both from inside and from outside the church. The place and status of the church in its social setting and of the minister in the church setting continue to evolve and arguable to evolve very fast. This makes it even more important that the minister, if she, or in this case he, is to be able to live out this role, is capable of reflecting on the demands made by it, responding to situations without losing hold of whatever it is that holds its aspects together.