Sunday, 24 January 2016

Ministry scarcity

A day of cold, wind and rain, with the Mass congregation at St German's somewhat depleted. After, in the hall, a brainstorming session to put together a social programme for the coming year. We've already got an outline plan for Lent, Holy Week and Easter. I shall support them in whatever way I can, until a decision is delivered about future ministry development. Hopefully this situation cannot continue for that much longer. I admire people's determination to continue as best they can despite not knowing what the future holds. This certainly is 'walking in faith', and it reminds me of the same determination I have seen in Nerja and Vinaros, striving to continue as usual in the face of long periods of interregnum.

Addressing the pastoral needs of congregations in different contexts, whilst maintaining an overview of needs in the light of diminishing resources and available ministers is an unenviable task, made much more difficult by church structures which were designed for longevity and stability, less adaptable to changing circumstances. The Church in Wales has suffered major cut-backs in clergy in the past seven years and still struggles to adjust.

Ministry shortages are echoed also across the diocese in Europe. The propagation of new congregations is still happening so the need for ministry grows. It can draw upon the resources and experience of people interested in a different sort of ministry in and around the time of retirement, but it's that much harder to recruit younger clergy with spouses and families that can't re-locate so easily. So, the waiting time to appoint chaplains gets longer. 

Thankfully, among those living now in Europe are Lay Readers and other people used to leading worship or willing to be trained for this. In turn, congregations can find their own members going forward for ordination. Although this can take a long time to nurture and develop, it does illustrate how circumstances of privation can lead to unexpected outcomes. I'd like to think the same can happen here at home in the long term. How we cope in the mean time is what exercises me.

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