The last one has been passed/jumped/got through. (Apart from the minor matter of actually finding a charge that is.)
I’ve never taken the view that the path to ministry is a series of hoops to jump through or boxes to be ticked. It is, rightly, a formation process. But it is, nevertheless, marked with critical points along the way. I’ve blogged about some of them in passing, ignoring others, but today’s was of some particular significance and is worthy of note. There is that minor issue of now finding a charge, but I would not even be in a position to begin looking were it not for the thumbs-up from today’s final review.
This short interview is the culmination of, for me, over six years of study, work and self-reflection. Five years of university, including enquiry periods (2-off), placements and then full-time probation. There have been ‘gates’ along that journey but that final review is the one that frees you to begin looking for the place where you will be let loose on real people, in the real world, without the safety net of an experienced supervisor.
Although it is a review, it is by no means a formality and ought to be approached with some sense of seriousness. I even dressed for the occasion – suit and tie – and proceeded to get a bit of a ribbing for it. But that’s OK, it all got swapped for ‘civvies’ soon enough when I got home. I also got a bit of a ribbing for the ‘tome’ I wrote for my final report – and that was just the edited highlights. I’ve just checked the word count and it was well on its way to being an honours dissertation. An intro and conclusion would have seen it pretty much there. But then I’ve had so much to reflect on and highlight over the past year – a sure indication that there is always more to learn and more to challenge.
The review itself was relaxed and chatty and seemed to be over in no time at all. My cup of tea was barely cold. Then it was just the brief pause of, “Can you wait outside for a few minutes?” followed by the happy words, “We’ve decided to sustain your probation.”
What that means in practical terms is that I will definitely be unemployed at the end of November. I had better get my act together, polish up my CV, and whittle down that vacancy short list.
In terms of ‘hurdles’ or ‘hoops’ for the Church of Scotland formation process, I have now passed the final one. In terms of challenges ahead, I get the feeling they are only really beginning.