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It has been suggested that my first article for the parish magazine should be something about life in a theological college. You may also be interested to discover how a man comes to be accepted for training for the ordained ministry. So, my first contribution will be in two parts.
Before a man can be accepted for training he must attend a Selection Conference organised by A C C M, the Advisory Council for the Church's Ministry. After a man has approached his parish priest with a view to ordination, arrangements are made for him to be interviewed, in my case by a layman acting as the Bishop's adviser, then by the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, finally by the Bishop himself. Then the prospective ordi.nand attends a four-day selection conference, usually held at a diocesan retreat house, where he and other candidates take part in further interviews, discussions, talks and worship. The selection committee consists of three clergymen and a layman. The purpose of the selectors is to test the candidates' vocations rather than for their academic qualifications or particular skills. It is vital for the Church and for himself that an ordinand does have a vocation to the priesthood.
The Selectors' decision usually reaches the candidate a week or ten days after the Conference. He is then either recommended for training, conditionally recommended or not recommended. The selectors may also recommend that a candidate attend a further conference after certain conditions have been fulfilled, such as being older or having greater academic qualifications.
The selectors' recommendations are just that. The final decision to ordain rests solely with the diocesan Bishop concerned, for A C C M is only an advisory council. Assuming a candidate has been recommended for training and this is agreed by his Bishop, he then has to secure a place in a university of theological college and make sure that through the Church or theological college or Local Education Authority he will be able to pay his fees, and if necessary be able to support his family for as long a five or six years. In my cage the Grlmsby L E A were very generous and paid half my fees. The Church's Central Board of Finance paid the remainder and the diocese provided a grant for family maintenance. The 'Church Times' also has an annual Lent Appeal, known as the Train a Priest Fund, which raises over £20,000 a year to support ordinands' families. This fund has enabled many ordinands to complete their training which would otherwise have been totally impossible. I was also helped by my own parish who provided 'cigarette-money'. So with the help of my wife's little job, we managed reasonably well financially.
More next month about life at Lichfield Theological College.


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