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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Weekend for Enquirers Exploring Priesthood in the Church of England

From 5 – 8 February nine young adults from across the diocese met at George Bell House in Chichester to explore some aspects of vocation to the priesthood. The Revd William Gulliford, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, and the Revd Stephen Ferns of the Ministry Division of the Church of England, planned the weekend to provide an exposure for the enquirers, most of whom, although deeply committed members of congregations of our diocese and theologically trained, had had little direct experience of the Church of England in England. The participants came from Moscow, Turku, Bologna, Stockholm, Athens, Versailles, Berlin, Vienna and Trondheim. The Revd Deacon Frances Hiller and Ms Margaret Jeffery of the Diocesan Ministry Team assisted Frs Gulliford and Ferns in leading the weekend, along with a former ordinand of our diocese, the Revd Jan Nobel, now an assistant curate in Durham Diocese.

Over the course of the days the participants visited two contrasting local parish communities in Chichester, as well as the Cathedral, to observe the life of the congregations, and to question the clergy and members about various aspects of their ministry and mission. The group explored aspects of Anglican identity, the ecumenical relations and commitments of the Church of England, the discernment and selection process and some practical realities of stipendiary ministry.

The enquirers reported that they found the weekend to be insightful and stimulating. They appreciated the clarity of the presentations, and the stimulating and deeply spiritual group discussions, and valued the opportunity to peer through a window into the life of one part of the English Church, and sample the reality of her ministry in a context very different from our own diaspora diocese. They all returned to their home congregations better equipped to consider the next step in their vocational journey.

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