Curates in Training
1. Placing of Deacons
The placing of deacons in their first post is based upon their need for formation. Some places and some people are more suitable than others to be involved in that formation. In deciding which clergy (usually incumbents) should have the major responsibility for training deacons, bishops and their staff use the guidelines listed below. They provide the areas to be considered but they are not a blueprint.
The training incumbent should be an experienced and effective priest who:
- has a vision for the mission of the church in the parish which involves the development of lay ministry;
- is a person of prayer who can inspire others to pray;
- is a good listener and enabler;
- is able to act as guide, adviser and consultant rather than benevolent dictator or efficient delegator;
- has a secure but not rigid faith and spirituality that can be shared with a colleague who will not necessarily have the same views or traditions;
- is theologically acute enough to be able to help the assistant in the process of integrating theological study with ministerial experience;
- is still prepared to learn and particularly to undertake in-service training;
- is able to share ministry with a colleague, including sharing difficulties as well as successes;
- is capable of allowing an assistant to develop in ways different from him/herself;
- is able effectively to mobilise resources for training the assistant over a three year period and prepared to allow others to be involved in that training;
- has the time to devote to regular training sessions with the assistant, apart from staff meetings and informal contact;
- has a pattern of staff meetings and daily worship which is mutually convenient for the incumbent and the assistant;
- is aware of the importance of the POT programme and will liaise with the POT Director in ensuring that the assistant gives it priority;
- will give priority to attending training incumbents’ meetings;
- will be committed to staying in the parish for at least the diaconal year of the assistant and preferably for the greater part of the training period;
- has good working relations with fellow clergy, lay leaders and officers in the parish, and those outside the church.
Assistant clergy ordained in the Diocese should remain in their first post for at least three years from ordination to the diaconate, or two years from ordination to the priesthood, whichever is longer. A change from one curacy to another in the Diocese during the first three years after ordination is sanctioned by the Bishops only in very special circumstances.
Housing accommodation free of rent and rates and repairs must be provided, and proper expenses of office should be met in full.
2. Training in the Parish
The Incumbent has a responsibility to set the framework within which the curate will work. The following expectations will form the basis of a written agreement which should be agreed at the beginning of the assistant’s ministry and reviewed annually, taking account of the curate’s responsibilities to his/her family, employment and the parish.
- Incumbent and curate should say Morning and Evening Prayer together most days of the week. The realistic involvement of self-supporting ministers and ministers in secular employment needs to be negotiated with care.
- Curates should have some involvement in the provision and leadership of weekday services.
- There should be the opportunity for the curate to have regular opportunity for quiet time and meditation.
- The curate should be given time to intercede for particular concerns and people.
- All curates should have a spiritual adviser. There should be agreement about time given to consult him/her (if the curate wishes, the Post Ordination Training Directors will help find an adviser).
- All curates should be given the opportunity for an annual retreat.
The pattern of the church’s worship will occasionally be a matter for discussion at staff meetings; the degree of responsibility the curate has for a particular service needs to be known well in advance. It is assumed that as a curacy progresses the curate will be given an increasing degree of responsibility in the conduct of worship.
- The incumbent should make special arrangements for the curate’s introduction into the parish: meeting key people, learning where things are kept, discovering parish boundaries and being introduced to important institutions and community services.
- A curate will prepare for a new liturgical or pastoral responsibility by first observing his or her incumbent, who will then supervise the curate in the conduct of a service, ministry or activity. This process, however, should also properly involve the laity in order that priestly or diaconal ministry develops in the context of the whole ministry of the Church.
- The incumbent should state what services he or she expects the curate to attend.
- The incumbent should agree with the curate what role he/she should take:
- in conducting worship – leading all or part of a service, reading, interceding.
- in preaching – in their first year curates should not be required to preach more than once every two weeks.
- In shaping the church’s worship – time needs to be set aside to discuss sermons and conduct of worship with the incumbent, including the opportunity presented to a NSM/MSE for using their experience of work.
- It is expected that the curate be given training and experience:
- in preparing people for their child’s baptism
- in preparing young people and adults for Baptism and Confirmation
- in sharing in the wider arrangements made in the parish for catechesis, which may involve work in schools
- in work with groups: group work skills, faith sharing and personal evangelism
- in nurturing faith development.
- It is expected that a curate would gain experience and training in:
- funerals and the care of the bereaved
- ministry to the sick and dying, including taking Holy Communion
- work with children and young people, general parochial visiting
- contact with local community organisations and with other churches and faiths
- preparation for marriage
- for those to be ordained to the priesthood – preparation for the administration of the sacraments, Eucharist, anointing the sick, hearing confessions (the Diocesan rule is that priests should only hear confessions in cases of emergency within their first three years of ministry)
- personal interviews and counselling
- parish magazine and written communication
- planning and chairing meetings.
- It is expected that an incumbent should involve the curate in the process of planning and executing the parish strategy for mission. The incumbent should therefore spend time with the curate thinking and praying about all aspects of church life and witness. The Mission Action Plan should be a focus for this activity.
- The incumbent and curate should both be aware of arrangements for Post Ordination Training. The Bishop expects priority to be given to the Post Ordination Training arrangements by both incumbent and curate. On a Post Ordination Training day a curate should normally be free of parochial duties.
- In addition to the appraisal of an assistant’s ministry at the end of the first year, each curate will engage in an annual ministerial review which will be conducted by the Post Ordination Training Directors.
- If possible, the incumbent should visit self-supporting ministers and ministers in secular employment licensed in their parish in the workplace in order to understand and appreciate the other dimension of their ministry.
Administration and Professional Conduct
- There needs to be understanding of how the parish registers are kept and how other parish information is recorded.
- Time needs to be set aside to discuss how personal records are best kept – of people, catechetical material, liturgical material, personal reading, intercession promised.
- Correspondence on behalf of the parish should be dealt with as soon as possible – letters answered promptly, bills paid immediately.
- There should be agreement about standards of punctuality, availability, visibility (dress), loyalty and confidentiality.
Parochial Church Council
- There should be agreement about what meetings of the PCC and its committees and working parties the curate is expected to attend and the nature of the contribution expected.
- The arrangement for payment of working expenses and for repairs and decoration of the curate’s housing need to be stated and known by the clergy and the officers of the PCC.
- A minister’s manner of life should be one of Christian integrity. This will embrace both conduct (courtesy, honesty, financial probity) and personal and professional relationships.
- It is the incumbent’s responsibility to make sure that the curate should have
- a day off each week
- the annual holiday entitlement for stipendiaries which is six weeks, including 6 Sundays.
- There should be time:
- for family and friends
- for reading and academic work
- for other interests.
- There needs to be clarity about if and how far the curate’s and the incumbent’s households are expected to be involved in their ministry.
3. Post Ordination Training
The primary locus of Post Ordination Training is in the parish with the training incumbent. However, this training is given a broader perspective by the training course delivered in the episcopal areas, which includes a triennial diocesan residential conference. The principles and expectations of POT are outlined the booklet Post Ordination Training in the Diocese of London. Those who in the first three years of ordination and licensing are expected to participate in the programme that is made available. In some episcopal areas Continuing Formation, a voluntary programme of support and training, is offered to those who continue as curates or assistant staff.
4. Termination of a Curate’s Appointment
Curates must give three months’ notice in writing to the Area Bishop and to the Incumbent, if they intend to relinquish their cure.
A mutual agreement between the Incumbent and the Curate that the Curate should leave the parish has to be sanctioned by the Area Bishop. An Incumbent can dismiss a Curate by applying for and obtaining the Area Bishop’s formal permission in writing, and then giving six months’ notice to the Curate. Such permission must be drawn up by the Incumbent and sent to the Area Bishop, requesting his signature. Before signing such a document, it is the Bishop’s invariable rule to communicate personally or by letter with the Curate. The Area Bishop should be consulted before any action is taken.