5 Jul 2019

Ministry Experience Scheme: Saying 'thank you'

It is good to be reminded that saying thank you is at the heart of our Christian faith and spirituality. Indeed one of the names, ‘Eucharist’, for the central act of Christian worship simply means ‘thanksgiving’.

A gathering at Westminster Abbey in the evening of 24 June was an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to a number of trusts and individuals whose generosity has enabled the Ministry Experience Scheme of the Diocese in Europe to develop and flourish over the last few years and to continue into the future.

This Scheme enables young people who are thinking seriously about a vocation to ordained or full time lay ministry in the Church to explore their vocation, working as an intern in one of the chaplaincies in the Diocese, alongside a programme offering targeted educational and personal support. The gathering at Westminster Abbey coincided with the last group meeting for the 2018-2019 interns.

Short speeches of appreciation were made by two of the interns, Erik van Heemskerk of the Netherlands, and Sharon Ejinkonye from Chelmsford, who interned in Tervuren, Belgium.

Erik commented:

“It's been a privilege for me to have been on the Ministry Experience Scheme this year. In this year we’ve been on many pilgrimages to different places, but I also feel I’ve been on a personal pilgrimage: in listening to God’s call for my life and for exploring and growing in this role in the church… Sharing this journey together was a great encouragement to me.  It also helped me and I am sure the others in seeing both the richness and the diversity of the body of Christ, within the Church of England.

One of the great privileges on this journey was to be accompanied by other MES-interns, who had similar questions about God’s call in their lives but completely different backgrounds… I've thoroughly enjoyed our year and it is helped me a lot in my journey of faith, growing in my vocation and I will treasure the wonderful memories and experiences and take with me the valuable lessons in Lyon, in the Holy Land, in Ypres, in Brussels, in Utrecht and now in London.”

Erik and Sharon’s appreciation and thanks was echoed by Ms Mary Talbot, one of the Scheme’s pastoral mentors, who had herself worked hard to raise funds for the programme.

Mary reflected:

“It has been a privilege to watch the interns grow and develop both as people and Christians and to become more confident in their calling, whatever that might be.  They are a positive force in the churches to which they are assigned, bringing new ideas and acting as role models for other young people.  The members of the Diocesan Synod look forward to their yearly appearance, where they significantly reduce the average age ! …We are now one of 27 dioceses participating in the programme and our model is the envy of quite a lot of them.  We have given great weight to the educational element of the programme ; to the support of various supervisors and mentors, as well as to the practical experience of ministry in a parish.”

Mary went on to thank also William Gulliford, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, whose creativity and hard work had led to the development of the particular model of the Scheme which operates in our diocese.  As Mary said, “William is a deeply caring person, always there for the candidates and others, seeking postings, seeking placements, advising on colleges, providing guidance and practical support of all kinds. … All this takes an enormous amount of time, so I think somewhat reluctantly he has recently handed over the management of the programme to Clare Amos.  I think all of us owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for all that he has done to establish this so successfully in Europe.Thank you William.”

Thanks are also due to Canon Anthony Ball, for the generous gift of the hospitality of his house and garden which enabled the reception to take place, and for faciliating a special tour for the group of the recently restored Triphorium of Westminster Abbey.

Clare Amos

Co-ordinator, Ministry Experience Scheme

Photos: Edoardo Fanfani.  The pictures were taken in the garden of Canon Anthony Ball, Canon Steward of Westminster Abbey.