Added on 03/02/2005
Annual Report of the Bishops' Selection Conference 2004
At this time when the Church is rightly rediscovering the ministry of all, it is imperative that the unique calling to ordained ministry is neither neglected nor devalued. Few aspects of the life of the Church are more important than the selection of candidates to and for ordained ministry in the Church of God. Vocation is all about Divine call and our human response. The wider Church has the responsibility of discerning the nature of God's call on the life of an individual. The Church of Ireland recognises the increasing importance of the process of selection for ordained ministry. Leadership by the Bishops, sincere prayer, careful planning, pre-selection and selection conferences, ongoing evaluation and extensive consultation all combine together to form the present selection process.
Selection Conferences 2004
This year 25 attended Part I of the Selection Conference in March. The same 25 attended the Selection Conference (Part II) in June. Both conferences were in the Church of Ireland Theological College. Because of the large numbers two Panels of Selectors were involved. The names of those who form the panels can be seen within this report. Each Selection Panel includes a Bishop, a priest, the Theological College Principal or a member of his staff, and two lay selectors. The selectors are drawn from different parts of the Church of Ireland.
At the conclusion of the Selection Conference the selectors make a collective report, through the Secretary of the Conference, to the respective Diocesan Bishop and give their advice. The advice falls under four headings: recommended for training, not recommended for training, conditional recommendation or the conference may defer giving a decision. Of the 25 candidates who came before Selection Conference this year, 18 were applying for training in the stipendiary ministry, and 7 were applying for training in the non-stipendiary ministry.
The outcome of the process this year was as follows
If candidates who are recommended do not commence training within three years they are required to attend a further Selection Conference (Parts I & II). Candidates who are not recommended for training will not, in general, be permitted by their Bishop to return to a subsequent Selection Conference until a period of two full years has elapsed.
Where a candidate about whom a decision has been deferred returns to a future Selection Conference, that information and the reason for the deferral is made known to the selectors. In contrast, where a candidate has not been recommended, that information is not made known to the selectors, and the candidate comes anew to the Conference.
Training of Selectors
Each member of the present Panel of Selectors has attended a Selectors Training Programme. This year the training was in the Theological College in January. It was led by a team from Church Missionary Society Ireland. It was not only of a very high standard but was much appreciated by all who attended.
It is with deep regret that we record the death, this year, of one of our selectors, Canon John Martin of the Diocese of Derry. Canon John will be greatly missed and we pray that his family will know God's comfort and strength.
Diocesan Directors of Ordinands
The Diocesan Directors of Ordinands (DDO's) have a key role to play in the process of selection and each year the Chairperson and Secretary of the Bishops' Selection Conference meet with the DDO's and the Principal of the Theological College. The meeting is usually in September and is always of immense value in listening to one another, addressing important issues, ensuring good communication and dealing with matters which are best dealt with face to face.
This year on the 23rd September we said farewell to Canon Cecil Hyland who has served, in recent years, as the Central Director of Ordinands. Cecil has been conscientious and efficient in the fulfilment of his responsibilities and he was warmly thanked for his diligent work. We trust he will have many years of happy retirement. The Bishops have appointed as his successor Canon Alan Abernethy, Rector of Ballyholme Parish (Down diocese) and we know he will bring to this important role enthusiasm and creativity.
Evaluation and Changes
The Bishops made a commitment to an ongoing evaluation of the selection conference process. In the light of various factors which have been highlighted it has been decided to change the timing of the two parts of Selection Conference. In 2005 Part I will be in January in All Hallows College, Dublin, and Part II will be in March in the Church of Ireland Theological College.
The candidates at Selection Conferences are invited to complete Evaluation Forms. Generally their comments have been positive and appreciative. These changes in dates were suggested by them and also by the DDO's. This highlights the nature of the present selection process, that whilst the final decisions rest with the Bishops the whole process involves the whole Church.
It has become very clear that the ministry of the Chaplains during the Selection Conferences is a most significant one. Two chaplains are assigned to the candidates at each part of the Selection Conference. At a time when candidates are uncertain, apprehensive, and all kinds of emotions are swirling the presence of a Chaplain is essential. In leading worship, in being available for completely confidential conversations the chaplains have served well. It is made very clear to the candidates that the Chaplain is not a part of the selection process nor do the selectors know if someone has spent time with a Chaplain. This has proved to be an important development.
The Selection Conferences are teamwork and we express sincere thanks to all who have been part of the team in 2004. We continue to strive for excellence in the selection process and above all else an accurate discerning of God's will for each of the candidates and the wider Church.
The panel of Selectors is as follows:
The Rev. Canon Alan Abernethy
Mrs Joan Bruton
The Rev. Wayne Carney
The Rev. Grace Clunie
Mr Stephen Connolly
Mrs Heather Ellis
The Rev. Canon Liz McElhinney
Mr Roy Palmer
Mr. Geoffrey Perrin
Mrs Vera Shaw
Miss Sophie Shirley
The Rev. Canon Des Sinnamon
Mr. Billy Skuse
Mr. Tom Stevenson
Mr. Roy Totten
The Very Rev. Robert Townley
Ms Joyce Williams
The panel of Chaplains is as follows:
The Rev. Canon Paul Draper
The Rev. Shane Forster
The Rev. Elizabeth Hanna
The Rev. Norman Jardine
The Rev. Jonathan Pierce
The Rev. Katherine Poulton
Bishop Ken Clarke
Tel: +353 49 4372759
The Diocesan Office
Tel: +353 1 6275352