Ministry development for assistant curates

Ministry Development Program (MDP) aims to be just that - a program to help Assistant Curates develop in ministry. Parish or chaplaincy placement is where most of the training occurs under regular supervision. MDP is an adjunct to that training.

The expectation is that curates will continue to learn new ministry and consolidate existing skills, in order to continue their formation and preparation for the exciting and demanding privilege of leading God’s people.

They should gain more knowledge and insight into pastoral relationships and responsibilities, working in teams whether with other clergy or with laypeople, developing parish and chaplaincy goals and visions, reaching out into communities with the gospel message of hope in Christ in innovative and culturally appropriate ways and developing fresh expressions of church.

There are five one-day sessions per year and a residential conference and attendance is expected at all of these gatherings. The sessions are organised by a team of examining chaplains who call on guests to speak and facilitate at the sessions. The program is provided for curates in the second and third years of curacy training. It thus covers years of increasing diversity in ministry. Basic competencies such as service leading and the pastoral services (baptism, weddings, funerals) should be competently handled by the end of year one and most curates will find their ministries deepening and broadening.

Relationships of trust with many people have been established so that conversations, pastoral ministry and leadership can go to a greater depth. Opportunities for ministry will also be widening as projects become more established, the parish or chaplaincy sees more clearly how to use their gifts, expanding networks yield new opportunities for ministry and they are given increasing independence and responsibility in their place of ministry.

Because of this diversity MDP tries to identify areas of growth that will be relevant to most curates and tends to focus on developing the skills and character of the ministry person. Topics may include issues of conflict, working as part of a team, exposure to a different ministry experience (e.g. the work of welfare agencies, multi-cultural ministry, church planting), managing time, honing preaching skills and handling pastoral issues such as depression.

A typical program includes worship, input and discussion sessions, small group interaction and prayer and eating together.

MDP is also concerned with building and strengthening collegiality among the curates. The theological college experience will provide for strong relationships, many of which will persist over a lifetime. MDP seeks to acknowledge those existing links and sees a great value in curates catching up with each other and having time to talk. It is also important, in our diverse Diocese, to provide situations where relationships with those from different traditions and training backgrounds can be fostered and a commitment to collegiality can be developed.