Below is a timeline and a brief guide to the blog posts documenting my exploration of ordination from the initial steps to being recommended to train for ordination. There have been 7 recognisable stages, these are described below. A full list of the blog posts relating to my ordination search is available at the bottom of this page.
As well as my journey many others have written about the discernment process. I have listed a number of them on the BAP Experiences page. You might also find the pages linking to other people’s stories of exploring their calling and to useful websites helpful.
Stage 1: The beginning of the journey
My first steps in exploring ordination were described in my very first blog post I am called… and in my post Taking Stock – Part 1: The first steps on the road towards ordination.
Stage 2: Meeting with a Vocations Chaplain
This stage consisted of two meetings following formalising the discernment process, which itself followed meeting with my vicar. Planning Ahead? preceded the posts for this stage. which began with the post Who am I today?. The post Taking Stock – Part 2: The Vocations Chaplain Experience, completed the posts for this stage.
Stage 3: Waiting for the DDO
There was a period waiting between finishing with a Vocations Chaplain and my first meeting with a DDO. This period which began with the post Too busy to listen? ended with a testing time ahead of my first meeting with the DDO, as written about in the post Get your priorities right.
Stage 4: The DDO Sessions
Stage 5: Examining Chaplains & the Bishop
This short stage had 4 blog posts during it. My meetings with the Examining Chaplains were written about in the posts A Tale of Two Storms and No time to catch my breath. For these sessions I was asked to write responses to 3 questions on my journey of faith, understanding of what ordination is, and on my views of the challenges for the church and me within it. The were followed by my preparations for meeting the Bishop (see Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry) and the meeting itself (see Excuse me while I kiss the sky).
The posts covering my second time through this stage is covered by Ground Control to Major Tom, Communication Breakdown, One Foot in the Graveyard, Shown the Door, Do Worry, Be Happy and Carry On Calling!.
Stage 6: Going to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP)
There are at least 12 weeks between being registered for a BAP and going to one. The first 6 weeks will be focused on completing a BAP Registration Form, a Written Reflection and the Sponsoring Papers (completed by a DDO) as these are due in 6 weeks before the BAP takes place – the Church of England’s guide to Going to a BAP describes what each involves and what happens at the BAP itself.
It is not uncommon to go to more than one BAP, sometimes the timing is not right or a BAP uncovers more things that need to be addressed before it would be appropriate to train for ordination. I have been to 2 BAPs. The posts covering my preparations for my first BAP started with The Recovery Room and continue to my experience of a BAP in Strange Days (aka Going to a BAP).
You may find a collection of other people’s BAP Experiences useful as well – this page includes a list of people’s blog posts about their experiences of a BAP, good and bad, along with other helpful information
Stage 7: The aftermath, recovery and next steps
The Land of Confusion, Please Sir, can I have some more? and Unpastoralised cover the impact of being rejected for ordination training following my first BAP. Publishing blog posts following the first BAP became less of a priority as I concentrated on being rather than doing. The impact of not being recommended, and the nature in which it happened so, can be seen in The Big D. If reading these it is helpful to read them in context and to know that although the first BAP report caused a lot of pain I subsequently came to see that the Advisors at the BAP had been correct in many ways; indeed not being recommended has been pivotal to my ongoing transformation so the Advisors did me, and in turn others, a favour!
The post It’s been a while… is a useful place to begin if you’re reading this blog for the first time as it summaries the journey to my first BAP in one post. Doing nothing takes time marked the conscious resumption of discerning God’s will about ordination and deciding to go to a second visit to a BAP.
The blog will continue with Being an Ordinand covering the experiences of training and the anticipation of life once ordained.
Index of Blog Posts: The Discernment Diary
The blog posts below form The Discernment Diary, the ongoing search to determine whether God was taking me to be ordained or not.
- I am called… – being encouraged by God to browse and explore ordination (19/05/13)
- Planning ahead? – learning to see God as a Rally Driver’s Navigator (22/05/13)
- Who am I today? – trying to be the person we are, not the person we think others want us to be (27/05/13)
- Can I see clearly now? – why did I not see the signs of my calling before? (04/06/13)
- Who is He? – who is God to me? (10/06/13)
- Is it ever wrong to help someone? – being challenged to consider “the sin of the helper” (13/06/13)
- Take me to your Leader – considering what leadership is (19/06/13)
- Taking Stock – Part 1: The first steps on the road towards ordination – exploring ordination informally before asking the church to do it with me (28/06/13)
- Taking Stock – Part 2: The Vocations Chaplain Experience – learning lessons from my first steps on the Church’s discernment path (03/07/13)
- Too busy to listen? – becoming too busy exploring ordination to spend time with God (10/07/13)
- Did you mean ego? – flattery is nice but constructive honesty better (17/07/13)
- I’m still here! – exploring ordination can involve a lot of waiting for other people (24/07/13)
- Lead me not into temptation – my weakness with patience and planning being tested (31/07/13)
- Do you feel tolerant? Well, do ya, punk? – thoughts on how we preach but don’t practice tolerance (05/08/13)
- A Blessing in disguise? – learning to see the blessing of waiting (12/08/13)
- Leaving the waiting room – looking for a Spiritual Director (19/08/13)
- Hazardous interpretations – is it God, me or other people talking? (26/08/13)
- Get your priorities right – sometimes exploring ordination has to wait (02/09/13)
- Ordination at any cost? – should my family sacrifice the life they know for my pursuit of God’s plan for mine? (09/09/13)
- State of love and trust – learning to trust God (16/09/13)
- There’s a whole lot of uncertainty going on – trying not to be derailed as life carries on regardless of the discernment process (23/09/13)
- A baptism in social media – trying to reconcile my thoughts about baptism with other’s (30/09/13, Updated 22/10/13)
- The life and work of an exploring pilgrim – thoughts arising from reading John Pritchard’s The Life and Work of a Priest (07/10/13)
- Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! – realising I didn’t know why I needed to be ordained (14/10/13)
- The Ministry of Doubt – if God is calling me to be ordained why has He not told other people? (21/10/13)
- Release the pressure – doing too much and learning to say no (28/10/13)
- No sex please, we’re Christians! – getting off the fence to wrestle with issues of sex and spirituality (31/10/13)
- The God of Surprises is calling – how Gerard W Hughes book The God of Surprises transformed my ideas about prayer (04/11/13)
- The Fear Factor – being fearful of others, of failure and of not being able to hear God (11/11/13)
- A monster of a warning – trying to stop trying to impress others (18/11/13)
- The Theology of Quiche – acknowledging the support of my wife (23/11/13)
- A Pilgrim’s Progress – noticing the transformative effect of discernment (02/12/13)
- We are family – one person might be ordained but it’s affects & involves the whole family (09/12/13)
- An overwhelming Advent – finding it hard to cope with all the potential impacts on the family (16/12/13)
- Advantageous – thinking of those who have gone before us (23/12/13)
- Rescued from the darkness – an account of my spiritual pilgrimage towards exploring a call to ordained ministry (30/12/13)
- Defining ordination is harder than you think! – trying to understand and communicate just what ordained ministry is (06/01/13)
- Challenging and exciting times – thinking about the challenges facing Christianity and the Anglican Church (13/01/13)
- Grace on the roller coaster – finding revelation through writing and beginning to think of the practicalities of studying (20/01/14)
- The God of Convenience – is the easy option the right option or does it feel right because it is easy? (27/01/14)
- God at work is a risky business – breaking my possible future to my employer (03/02/14)
- Surprised by surprise – struggling to practice patience (10/02/14)
- A Tale of Two Storms – seeing an Examining Chaplain (17/02/14)
- The Grand Tour – looking at theological colleges (residential) (24/02/14)
- No time to catch my breath – meeting a second Examining Chaplain (03/03/14)
- Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry – it’s all in my head if only I could articulate it in speech (10/03/14)
- Excuse me while I kiss the sky – meeting a Bishop and coping with delays (17/03/13)
- The Recovery Room – treating the wounds of discernment (24/03/14)
- A Work in Progress – stepping out of my comfort zone (31/03/14)
- Sitting on the fence – thinking about engaging with issues rather than just observing them (07/04/14)
- Oh no, not again! – a BAP 6 months away changed for a BAP 6 weeks away (14/04/14)
- Remembering the reason – trying to remember what all the interviews, essays and paperwork is about (21/04/14)
- T minus 3 weeks – counting down to my first BAP (28/04/14)
- T minus 2 weeks – counting down to my first BAP (05/05/14)
- T minus 1 week – counting down to my first BAP (12/05/14)
- The time is now – no more preparing, time to go and be assessed for ordination training (19/05/14)
- Strange days – also known as ‘Going to a BAP‘ – what it is like to live within the Christian version of the Big Brother house for 3 days (26/05/14)
- The Land of Confusion – hearing that I has not been recommended for ordination training (02/06/14)
- Please Sir, can I have some more? – needing help to understand why I wasn’t recommended (09/06/14)
- Unpastoralised – receiving the BAP Advisors’ report (16/06/14)
- The Big D – Depression, other people’s and my own (26/01/15)
- It’s been a while… realising the need to let answers come to me rather than chase after them (14/09/15)
- A Prayer for the Uncertain – finding solace in Thomas Merton’s uncertain prayer (23/01/16)
- Doing nothing takes time – being, not doing (25/01/16)
- History Repeating – worrying about returning to a second BAP (15/02/16)
- Counting to 10 in prayer – struggling to pray during difficult and noisy times (23/03/16)
- It’s not you, it’s me – discerning ordination is about you is as much about others as it is about you (13/05/16)
- Ground Control to Major Tom – preparing to engage with the discernment process and a possible second BAP (01/09/16)
- Communication Breakdown – the impact of imperfect communication and missed milestones (22/09/16)
- One Foot in the Graveyard – reacting to an unexpected change to ordination training (23/09/16)
- Shown the Door – beginning to meet with Examining Chaplains once again (25/09/16)
- Do Worry, Be Happy – looking at the Selection Criteria for Ordination and meeting an Examining Chaplain for a second time (03/10/16)
- Comfort Blankets – looking at relationships with my third Examining Chaplain (10/10/16)
- Carry On Calling! – mortality and melancholy (27/10/16)
- Today, I Remember – a meditation on Remembrance Day (13/11/16)
- Guilty as not charged – happily driven by guilt (21/11/16)
- Depressingly (dis)honest – are we truly honest if we choose what we will and will not discuss? (02/12/16)
- Silent Running – removing distractions (19/01/17)
- Going to a BAP, again! – same place, different result (19/03/17)
- Climbing up to Cloud 9 – trying to understand why others were more elated about my BAP result than I was (03/04/17)
- At the foot of the Cross – A meditation on Jesus on the Cross (14/04/17).
- A Tribal Sales Pitch – exploring theological colleges (23/05/17)
- Leaving the Shadows – leaving anonymity behind (27/06/17)
Future blog posts relating to ordination will be indexed on the page Being an Ordinand.