First day at vicar factory

First day at vicar factory school.

God is good, as you do already know, of course. I had one anxiety about starting theological college: the kids and their breakfast and how they were going to get to school. But it was all great. So at 7.15 we (hubby and I) dropped them off at 'breakfast club'. They enjoyed it so much that the youngest cried when daddy picked her up because she wanted to go back there. Praise God! Breakfast Club's Lesley is like Eadie MCready from Balamory and my girls have to climb on this cute blue bus with smiley faces painted on it to get to school a mile away. They are then taken into the classroom where their teacher meets them.

At college we arrived for breakfast, I can't believe they feed my body as well as my soul - fantastic! Worship was amazing. Christina Baxter preached on Luke 5:21ff  and we sang and we sang and they cleverly got around the whole 'swine flu - can't drink the wine thing', by dipping the bread in the wine first.

We got keys to our rooms and all the maps and information we need so we know where to go for lectures. My husband chatted all things IT with one of the lecturers at lunch who uses multi-media for his class-teaching, so they really hit it off and I can just tell my husband is going to love college life as he learns about all things 'vicar's wifey ;-)'.

My fellowship group are a diverse bunch - a Phd Karl Barth student and an independent student and one part-time ordinand and some first and second year full-timer ordinands. There's a real spread of churchmanship so I am going to enjoy being stretched.

It all just felt like such a relief, being there at last as an ordinand and it is amasing how God uses us all, so unique and different as we are, each with a different story to tell about how we have come to be there. Bring it on! I am going to love it!


Gill Stanning said...

I am so jealous (I wanted to do the full theological college thing..but it wasn't possible.) Enjoy every minute!!

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thanks Gill - but I'll be sharing the challenges too for they are bound to come!

Anonymous said...

I hate the fact that this post is going to sound stuffy to some people, so please understand. I hope you love your time at Theological College. I hope it will be a time of academic discovery, spiritual development and personal growth. I hope your pastoral soul will be fed, ready to feed others. I hope for all this and much more. Most of all, I hope it will be a time of priestly formation. Our theological colleges can be among the most precious resources of the church, and they need to be honoured and respected. For this reason, I really die a little every time I hear someone call them 'vicar factories'. If a college ever turns into that, then it should be closed, on the spot. Language really matters. Every time we disparage something important by flippancy it is diminished. People have little enough respect for the church and its clergy already. Let's not join them in speaking lightly of important things. Sorry to be stuffy about what I know was a light-hearted comment, but, as you know, language goes very deep.

Rachel Marszalek said...

An interesting response, Anon. I agree with everything you say, in essence. Flippancy is not something I am usually known for. The spirit behind its use in this case is that of humility. I am so over-awed by what God has allowed me to do with my life for Him that I am often rather bowled over at the very thought of it. I want so carefully for this to be all about him and not simply about the experience that I am having, although, of course, that is what I will reflect on too. I want to undercut, at times, the enormity of it all because I feel that if God can call me in this way, he truly can call us all to serve him in this way. If I use such high-falluting language for my formation and training that people conceive that somehow it is some very lofty and exclusive thing, then they might not envisage so easily that it might be something that God could perhaps be calling them to. In my flippancy, I am aiming at the inclusiveness of this thing that is most obviously God's love, that theological training and a calling to the priesthood is something which occurs to many people. God has no favourites and calls each of us by name. I would never want to convey with an over-precious language that this was something other than anything other than something about God's love. Therein lies my motivation and I hope you understand what I might have failed to fully express.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, Rachel, and I appreciate it. However, priests are so much more than vicars, ask any NSM, any forces' chaplain, prison chaplain, university chaplain - I could go on. And a theological college is not a school or a factory or anything else, it's a theological college. Things have names. Words mean things. Language matters. The idea of the WORD penetrates all our understanding of God. Not calling it a theological college is at best a dumbing down, at worst, an indication not of humility, but of embarrasment at what it is. Be proud to go to a theological college.
And, while we on the subject of language, an enormity is not a big thing, it's an outrage, a horror, an act of violence.

fibrefairy said...

sounds like a good day ( is your husband going to be at college with you or was that just a first day thing?) Interesting to gauge the differences between colleges & courses more too - I know you've mentioned yourself before how different colleges have quite distinct churchmanship identities. I'm aware we(often wrongly!) make judgements therefore about someone who trained at X or Y...) Courses are very different - being constrained by geography more than personal choice - IYSWIM
I've got two questions for you; what would you have done if the college nearest you had been of a *very* differing churchmanship to your own? given I guess that you are not in a position to move your family elsewhere?
and also: I@m interested in how big the spread of churchmanship you refer to is? what's the spectrum in a charis evo college? have most ppl moved to be there? or is there a large local " nearest place, flavour not important" group?

I'm processing & reflecting on lots of stuff about the choices and decisions ppl make in training -and how much they're given by their dioc. too! ( none in my case)just now - interested in your take on it.
hope it continues to go well - does it feel very different to last year?

Rachel Marszalek said...

As someone who is interested in language and text and signifier etc, deconstruction, stucturalism and currently hermeneutics and even reader-response theory, about which I think any future priest would be a fool to be naive, I think language is more flexible than you believe.

The word 'enormity' can be used in a hyperbolic way. Also, I might add that one person's 'enormity' could quite easily be another person's 'triviality'. Language is often subjective and is governed too by context. By the word 'enormity' I was trying to capture the sense that learning about God is indeed something very weighty and great, beyond the scope of any teacher or student. He is immeasurable, of course.

Main Entry: enormity
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: extreme largeness

Synonyms: bigness, bulk, enormousness, greatness, hugeness, immensity, magnitude, massiveness, size, tremendousness, vastness

Antonyms: smallness, tininess, triviality


Rachel Marszalek said...

Embarrassment doesn't even figure on the spectrum of my emotions. About theological college, I am certainly not embarrassed and if you knew me, you would discover quite quickly that it is something about which speak with great passion, to the extent that the staff there have joked that they should pay me commission.
Two other students are taking up placements there from my church, which has everything to do with God but my persuasive efforts will not have hindered their choice of St John's as their training institution.

How do you feel about the word 'seminary'?

Rachel Marszalek said...

Hi fibre-fairy

Of the 65 ordinands, I think that there are only two who have the college on their doorstep and of that two I am one. Everyone else has left jobs and abodes, bringing the family with them.

It does feel different to last year. There's a feeling of wholeness, I think, is the best way of explaining it and joy that I get to go there every day. I also feel more relaxed, strangely, em, 'at peace', I think.

Churchmanship. Bible-believing, of course. Mostly orthodox re BCP and 39 articles although I get the impression that for some they might need to swot up on these things a little. Open to the Holy Spirit in the sense of manifestations, ie tongues for today, healing for today, mostly all. Deliverance ministry - I do not think any of us are naive about the powers of Hell and the forces of darkness, this is not dumbed-down. PSA - yes but also looking at the atonement as Paul does and scriptures generally testify as one expression of what christ accomplished for us through the cross. Racial and gender aware, liberation theology is covered. I don't know what else I can tell you really. We have a couple of Baptists learning here and even a Moravian Christian. We are a mix of moderately conservative evangelicals, charismatic evangelicals and mainstream Anglicans. In fact, in many ways I would compare the Moravian ideal quite happily with that of the ethos of St John's as a whole:

The Moravian ideal has been to gather together kindred hearts ... Where there are 'Christian hearts in love united', there fellowship is possible in spite of differences of intellect and intelligence, of thought, opinion, taste and outlook. ... Fellowship is not only a bridging of theological differences but also of social differences; the artisan and aristocrat are brought together...and sat as equal members.'

However, we are also taught an Anglican heritage and are able to enhance our understanding of the liturgy, prayer book and common worship changes over time. Perhaps the Moravian Christian and the Baptists will swap these modules for others which are more relevant to them.

My husband is going to get as involved as work allows. He runs an IT business so he can sometimes make up hours later. On the other hand he can be away in London all week at times.

My diocese believed that either Ridley or St Js would be the best places for me. i'm not sure what this says about me, if anything.

Thanks Fibre-fairy. I hope it is going well at your end.
God bless.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for taking the trouble to discuss this.

The newest version of the Oxford English Dictionary gives this:

{dag}3. Excess in magnitude; hugeness, vastness. Obs.; recent examples might perh. be found, but the use is now regarded as incorrect.
1792 Munchhausen's Trav. xxii. 93 A worm of proportionable enormity had bored a hole in the shell. 1802 HOWARD in Phil. Trans. XCII. 204 Notwithstanding the enormity of its bulk. 1830 Fraser's Mag. I. 752 Of the properties of the Peak of Teneriffe accounts are extant which describe its enormity. 1846 DE QUINCEY Syst. Heavens Wks. III. 183 The whitish gleam was the mask conferred by the enormity of their remotion. [Mod. ‘“You have no idea of the enormity of my business transactions”, said an eminent Stock Exchange speculator to a friend. He was perhaps nearer the truth than he intended’.]

I'm happy to go along with its judgement that 'enormity' to mean something big may be found but it is incorrect.

SEMINARY. Yes, please. I didn't dare ask for that. xx

Rachel Marszalek said...

Update Moravian Christians have much in common with Anglicans, sharing many of the same truths and foundations. So i wouldn't be surprised to see my Moravian Christian friend attending all the lectures on the 39 articles etc. See Wiki, which i understand is not always reliable but I will ask my friend as I get the opportunity about himself.
Moravian beliefs

Rachel Marszalek said...

Okay anon, you're American - well, i'm narrowing it down ;-)


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