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13 July 2011 @ 07:11 pm
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound thy praise, but who am I?  
Ok, I promise this'll be the last one on ordination!

I think I might be getting somewhere towards having an answer to those people who say "Does it feel different?" And the answer is, yes, yes it does. Quite profoundly so, actually.

In many ways I struggled with being a probationer and with what it was to be a probationer. Apologies are probably due to those who had to endure my angst on it! Being a probationer is to be neither fish nor fowl. You're not quite clerical, but you're not really lay either. Day to day most people probably don't notice the difference but there are some subtle bits of polity where it becomes more apparent. For example, you must attend ministerial synod but have no vote; if you sought election to Conference it would be as a lay representative. I used to dread those conversations with ecumenical partners which seemed inevitably to end up at "Oh, so you're not really a minister yet..." But yes, we are styled "Reverend" and we do use clerical dress. In general you exercise "the office and work of a presbyter" but the Church has not yet prayed that you might have the Holy Spirit to do that.

So in terms simply of the negative, it feels different because all of that is swept away. The strange in-between-ness of probation is gone.

But there is also the positive side of feeling different. One long journey has ended and its destination is reached. I felt called to be a presbyter. That call has been tested. I have been formed in order to pursue it. I have been accepted and approved. By the grace of God (and only by that), I am worthy. I am now a presbyter. That is for today and for the rest of my life. It is forever a part of me; something of my identity. And while (God forbid) I could be thrown out, removed from full connexion or whatever, I can never be un-ordained. That is a remarkable realisation and reality.

So yes, it does feel different. One long journey has ended and another has started. On we go!
(Anonymous) on July 15th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
Struggling with being a probationer...
Interesting. I suppose it's no more satisfactory for those who 'pass through the diaconate' on the way to the priesthood. Do they have a sort of one-year(ish) identity crisis in an order which isn't their principal vocation? Maybe this is particularly marked now that the permanent diaconate is being developed as a distinct calling.
Mark Rowlandmarkrowland on July 16th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
Obviously, you'd have to be in discussion with those who've done that to see how they perceived it. I do note though (as came out, for example, in the recent conversations on the diaconate between the Methodist Church of Great Britain and the Church of England) that some Anglican priests still have quite a significant sense of also being a deacon. I think it would depend on how you saw the relationship between those two orders. I think the real issue for me is the relationship between function and order (am I functioning in the order/office to which I am appointed?) rather than the fact of transitional stages per se.

[You're welcome to comment anonymously, but it's handy if you at least sign off with a nom de plume. Thanks.]