Affirming ordinands in their callings


First published 9th October 2014

If theres one thing that is essential in ministry its knowing that you are in the hands of, and that you belong to, God Himself. That He's chosen you, that He's called you, that you are precious to God.

With these powerful words the Archbishop of Canterbury began his address to the Trinity College community at the start of their new term, speaking to a packed chapel of women and men heading towards leadership in the Church of England.

His message followed the theme of Isaiah 44, where God reaffirms Israels chosen status and reminds them that the One they belong to is more powerful than the mess theyre in, and so commands them not to be afraid.

A liberating perspective

"The Archbishops presence was a real encouragement for me at the start of my training, said first-year ordinand Andrew Gliddon, as it was an affirmation that the church supports our callings and takes them seriously. And he wasnt loud or showy but he spoke with a liberating perspective - a rejection of the status quo of church decline and a prayerful insistence that the focus is on Jesus not on the church itself. Im hopeful that if more of that mindset filters down into our congregations and communities it will help us to regain confidence in our shared mission.

Holding humility and authority together

Trinitys student president Jo Pestell, a second-year ordinand, agrees: It was great to begin the year with a clear reminder of who God is and who we are in Him. Our callings to ministry must be rooted in the knowledge that the power of the church comes from God, not from us, and its so encouraging to hear that emphasised by one of the nations most visible Christian leaders. I was really inspired by the way he seems to hold humility and authority together.

Prayer is absolutely, totally and utterly essential

After the Archbishops address there was time for a brief Q&A, yet rather than asking about church politics or hot-button issues the students were keen to hear more of the Archbishops personal faith journey. Andrews question was "What do you know now about your personal prayer life, and how prayer fits into your ministry work, that you wish you had known when you first began ordination training?" Among other reflections, the Archbishops answer came down to this: What have I learned? That prayer is a mystery, its engaging with the will of God to shape us and shape the world, and that its an incredible thing: prayer is absolutely, totally and utterly essential.

An invigorating rallying call to mission

The Archbishop also commented during the service on the liveliness and commitment evident in the community, joking that he wished he could go through theological training again so he could study at Trinity.

The college Principal, Rev Dr Emma Ineson, just smiled and told him he would be more than welcome. But it was actually brilliant for me to be reminded and humbled again about the passion of our students, Emma shared. All through the Archbishops message I could see heads nodding aroundthe room and hear the murmurs of agreement and the amens, and I just felt such a rush of gratitude and excitement. His talk wasnt some desperately-needed motivational pick-me-up for a group of reluctant ordinands; it was an invigorating, rallying call to a mission which every student in the room was already on board with!

Archbishop Justin Welby with Principal of Trinity College, Rev Dr Emma Ineson[/caption]

The Archbishop closed by reminding people that if you know who you are and where God's called you, theres no better place on this earth to be. Praise God that these future leaders in the Church of England seem to know the truth of that, and are ready and willing to take up their calling to see our nation transformed by the power of the gospel.

If, like the Archbishop, you like the sound of being part of the Trinity community, visit www.trinity-bris.ac.uk for more information on the different ways you can engage with theological learning.