The ordination at St James Grimsby yesterday morning was full of excitement, anticipation and celebration. The four new deacons ordained in the north of the Diocese of Lincoln yesterday bring to the church a depth of gifts and competencies which bode well for the future.
Frequently I find that conversations with congregations seem to suggest that the quantity of those coming into and available for stipendiary ministry is the important issue. I think, however, that it is the quality of those coming forward which will resource the church most effectively in God’s mission and ministry.
As the cost of employing priests increasingly depends on the generosity of congregations, we need to ensure that those in stipendiary ministry bring a quality and competancy which supports such generosity. At the same time, the church needs to ensure that it is using all vocations to ministry in such a way as to honour the gifts and talents of those call by God not only into the ordained ministry but also into Reader and other lay ministeries. Justin Lewis-Anthony recent book – “If you meet George Herbert on the road, Kill Him” challenges the Church of England to rethink how we unfold the practice of priestly ministry. As the resource of stipendiary ministry reduces, it is time for us to understand how best to use the gifts and talents of those who respond to the call of God.
Just repeating pattens of ministry from the past by stretching the resourse of the stipendiary ordained ever further is a questionabe strategy for mission and ministry. Lewis-Anthony asks pertinent questions and it is down to us in the local church, in deaneries and in parishes to respond creatively – if we are to use the gifts and talents of those ordained yeasterday effectively in the cause of the Gospel.