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Joy in ministry prevalent among rural deans

17 May 2013


From the Bishop of Brechin

Sir, - I am pleased to reassure your readers, like the Revd Julian Hollywell in Derby ( Letters, 10 May), that the real names of the 46 area or rural deans who graciously took part in the Managing Clergy Lives research ( News, 3 May) that I conducted when I was Archdeacon of Newark were anonymised. Their parish locations and 42 Church of England dioceses were likewise disguised.

Across church traditions, age, gender, and other variables, however, the research revealed a remarkably high doctrine of the lifelong, sacrificial demands of the priestly commitments made at ordination. Interviewees were very frank about the daily challenges and opportunities of parish ministry: they recognised their personal vulnerabilities and those of deanery colleagues. Yet virtually none regretted being ordained.

The Church is keen to attract younger vocations to a more mission-shaped ministry, and I am delighted this Petertide to ordain a 25-year-old. To sustain exciting ministerial outputs, however, we still need formational inputs that are embodied. Priest is perhaps better understood as a verb rather than as a noun: becoming priest is our vocation.

Managing Clergy Lives, written together with Dr Caroline Gatrell, is an empirical celebration of all that is enduring in the priesthood. As one priest said, "I cannot think of anything more worth while, really."

Bishop's House, 5 Glamis Drive
Dundee DD2 1QG 


From Dr Clive Morgan

Sir, - A key issue that may help well-being in the clergy is that of correct selection to the priesthood in the first place. Moreover, correct selection must have an occupational-health component. My recent research has highlighted the importance of this aspect, and also mooted the possible part to be played by an occupational-psychology assessment at some stage of formation.

19 Hazel Tree Close
Cardiff CF15 8RS

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