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If you believe you are being called to pastoral ministry, this page explores the discernment, selection and training process.

What qualities are required for pastoral ministry?

Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries should have:

  • sensitivity and concern for other people within both the church and wider community
  • experience of pastoral care work, whether formal or informal
  • the ability to work with others
  • a readiness to share, think about and learn from experience – both your own and with other people
  • a commitment to continued growth in your relationship with God and the ability to relate faith to daily living
  • the capacity to take part in the training programme.

Licensed Lay Ministers (Pastoral) should in addition to the above:

  • show evidence of leadership capabilities
  • demonstrate a capacity to undertake more rigorous academic learning
  • be 62 years or younger at the point of entering training.

What should I do if I believe that God is calling me to pastoral ministry?

First of all, speak to people you trust and who know you well, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure you speak to your parish priest or chaplain, as they will assist you in beginning to discern your sense of calling.

The Vocations team runs a number of events to help you explore your vocation. Please keep an eye on the What’s On page to find out more.

Once you are ready to begin the formal process of discernment, your parish priest or chaplain can book you on a Vocations Forum.

Vocations Forums

Vocations Forums usually take place at Trinity House, near London Bridge, although during the Coronavirus pandemic they are being held online over Zoom.

At a Forum you will have an opportunity to talk and listen to others who also believe that God may be calling them, to reflect on what the Bible says about ministry and to think about your own journey of faith so far.

Your parish priest or chaplain can book you on a Vocations Forum by e-mailing Sue Stewart, the Vocations Department Administrator (contact details below).

What’s next?

At the end of the Forum, you will be asked if you would like to continue to explore your vocation. If you decide to go ahead, you will be assigned a Vocations Advisor who will work with you in discerning your vocation further and make a recommendation as to whether you should proceed to selection.

The selection process

You will be asked to fill in an application form, to get the support of your Incumbent/Chaplain and the PCC, and to provide the names of references who can comment on your suitability for pastoral care ministry.

You may then be invited to a selection panel, who will recommend whether they discern that it is appropriate for you to be equipped for pastoral ministry.

How will I be equipped?

The training process is slightly different depending on whether you are being equipped as a Southwark Pastoral Auxiliary or a Licensed Lay Minister (Pastoral). Click on the links below for further information.

Training for Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries

Year 1 training comprises the Bishop’s Certificate, a year-long, part-time course that gives you a foundation for Christian ministry (this may be taken before selection).

Year 2 training comprises the Serving the God who Cares course, a second, year-long, part-time course with the following key elements:

  • 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 also 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.

Training for Licensed Lay Ministers (Pastoral)

You will complete a two-year part-time course at St Augustine’s College or equivalent.

You will then complete two further years of reflective practice, along with a less intensive development programme focused on practical skills (if you have not previously completed Serving the God who Cares course; see Training for Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries).

In both cases, after two years of training you will complete a SPA agreement with your Incumbent and be commissioned or licensed by the Bishop.

The South London Church Fund and Southwark Diocese Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee (No. 236594).
Registered Office: Trinity House, 4 Chapel Court, Borough High Street, London SE1 1HW. Registered Charity: (No. 249678).

© The Diocese of Southwark 2021. All rights reserved.
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