Advent has taken on a new meaning for us this year, as we have been involved in the Methodist stationing system. Little did we know that, at this stage, we would still not know where we would be serving come September 2019. We have now completed two rounds of ‘matching’ and visited various Circuit, but no invitations have been forthcoming.
I remember back to the start of this process, when we met with our Acting Chair and Lay Stationing Rep to discuss our profiles. Personally, I found filling in the relevant forms and answering the questions about the kinds of ministry I had been involved with or wanted to explore, a really fruitful process. It was great to chart two decades of a journey that had brought me to this point and to begin to dream about the next stage in ministry. Meeting with Gill and Richard was hugely affirming and we left reassured us that our profiles read well and we would be much in demand.
Three months on and we are now contemplating entering the third round of matching in mid-January. It has been difficult to remain hopeful as we watch large numbers of appointments being filled and disappearing from the lists. Who knows what will be left to choose from in the new year? So we become reliant on something unexpected happening that will bring a new appointment into the system.
What has kept me going is the love and support we have been offered by so many. Very honestly, this process has led both of us to question our gifts and abilities as presbyters. With each phone call, however expected the answer was, our confidence took a bit of a knock. When I was considering entering local politics, a seasoned politician took me to one side and offered this piece of advice: remember, it’s like a job interview, only it has absolutely nothing to do with merit! That advice seems timely at the moment.
So the waiting continues for now. Christmas celebrations will offer some welcome distraction as we try to hold faith with a process that has demanded much and offered little at this stage. Thankfully, in the midst of this turmoil, the Spirit has not ceased from her work, renewing a deep sense of vocation within. I have been reminded through this that I work in the church and not for it.
May those who take the responsibility for decision-making within the Church
be directed always by the Spirit of courage and wisdom.