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Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

CMD e-bulletin September 2015

"Myth busting" by Bishop John

There is a need for some myth busting around what is commonly called Self-Supporting Ministry. It’s a ministry we have struggled to find the right name for – for a long time referred to as Non Stipendiary Ministry – and if we are honest struggled to value and deploy strategically.  The survey and report produced earlier this year has helpfully offered clarity to our understanding and rightfully raises some challenges for us as a Diocese.  Let’s be clear.  An ordained minister – priest, deacon or bishop – is ordained into the Church of God with no regard to whether they will receive a stipend, a salary as a chaplain, work in secular employment, or have other means of earning a living.  Nor is their ordination contingent on the sort of ministry they will engage in.  Put simply a priest is a priest no matter how they earn their living or exercise their ministry.

We have for too long simply equated being ordained with full time (and paid) ministry as a parish priest.  It’s never been the case and the report shows that in many ways the picture is changing very rapidly.  The decrease in the number of stipendiary ministers in the Diocese since 2006 has been more than matched by the increase in the number of Self-Supporting Ministers and numbers may well be even by 2025. The roles undertaken by those who are Self-Supporting are many and varied.  For most however the exercise of their ministry is either parochially focused or in the work place – or a mix of the two.

A person’s response to God’s call to them to self-supporting ministry (lay or ordained) is a precious gift from God to his Church and not simply another pair of hands to help out a busy incumbent. Often discussion around Reimagining Ministry at a local level focuses on the reduced number of stipendiary ministers and pays little heed to creative and fulfilling deployment of those who are self-supporting.  Of course there are considerations of how much time individuals are able to commit and indeed ensuring best use of gifts and experiences.  Mission and Ministry Units begin to offer us a more flexible structure which is not predicated on the omnicompetent sole stipended and ‘full-time’ incumbent and thank God for that. But I am not convinced that we are yet using the opportunities offered as fully or creativ


For more information please contact Rev Geoff Read
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