Our Vision

Hearts on Fire with a Vision for growth


SPA Ministry

Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs) are men and women authorised by the Diocese to help develop caring and pastoral work in their local communities and churches. Oversight of SPA ministry in the diocese is the responsibility of The SPA Council, chaired by Bishop Christopher.  

SPAs are called to help put God's caring concern for all people into practice. They do this:

  • through their own direct contact with people
  • by encouraging and enabling others to exercise a caring ministry
  • by raising awareness of pastoral care needs within their local church and neighbourhood.

No two SPAs have the same shape to their ministry. Some work mainly within their local church; others work mainly within the local community, based in a local caring agency or project. In many cases it is a mix of the two.

The focus of each SPA's ministry will vary with the needs within their church and local community, and their own gifts, experience, knowledge and interests. SPAs will vary in how much time they can commit to their ministry.

SPAs are commissioned to serve on behalf of the Diocese, but at the end of training a specific Agreement is drawn up between the SPA, their local church and/or any caring agency where the SPA will be involved, outlining the focus of ministry and arrangements for support.

SPAs are entrusted to be representatives of the Church in its task of building up a society that is both caring and just. They are to encourage and develop the pastoral care offered by the whole people of God.

Selection to SPA ministry is overseen by the Vocations department and details for this process can be found in the Application Guidance Booklet (.pdf, 360kb).

SPA Training

The department of Discipleship and Ministry has responsibility for the preparatory training for SPA ministry. Initial training for SPA ministry takes two years. The first part involves undertaking the Growing in Faith and Life Course – leading to the Bishop’s Certificate in discipleship. Participants interested in, or selected for SPA ministry will be allocated a SPA mentor to guide their reflection and learning around pastoral ministry in particular. This group will be part of the Tuesday evening cohort at Trinity House.

Those exploring a vocation to SPA ministry are encouraged to enrol for the Bishop’s certificate as soon as possible. Though this is no guarantee of a recommendation for SPAs ministry, it will be an important tool for deepening and enlivening Christian disciples and the vocational discernment journey.

The second part of SPA training involves the Serving the God who Cares course. This one-year programme focuses on the practice of pastoral care in church and community settings. Key elements of the course include:

  • reflecting on the foundations for pastoral care ministry
  • developing skills in listening, assessing and responding to individual needs
  • developing skills in listening, assessing and responding to local community needs
  • broadening horizons through observation visits and a placement
  • developing good practice in working with others
  • discerning how to sustain and develop your ministry.

As part of this programme you will be asked to keep a 'learning journal', there will be a range of practical assignments related to pastoral care work for you to undertake, and you will be supported throughout by one of our Learning Mentors. The course seeks to integrate biblical, spiritual, and theological insights with the practice of pastoral care, drawing on the trainee's experience and understanding gained from the previously completed Bishop's Certificate.

On going training for SPAs is part of the Ministry Matters programme. The SPA council also organise events and activities to support SPA ministry.

The SPA Council

The Council has overall responsibility at Diocesan level for SPA ministry.

The Council supports Commissioned SPAs through

  • identifying issues affecting SPAs in their work and acting proactively to address them
  • Promoting SPA ministry within the diocese
  • Ensuring that those currently involved in SPA ministry are adequately resourced.

Currently the Chair of the SPA Council is Bishop Christopher

The Diocesan SPA and Vice Chair of the Council is Gerie Knights. Gerie is supported in her role by Archdeaconry SPAs and Paula Thorvalsden, SPA Development Officer.

Phone 020 8657 3381 to speak to the Diocesan SPA

The Department link to the SPA Council is The Revd Canon Mandy Ford.