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Southwark Pastoral Auxiliary Ministry

Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs) are lay men and women authorised by the Diocese to help develop caring and pastoral work on behalf of the church, in a voluntary capacity. At present there are about 190 active SPAs in the Diocese.

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.

[From the SPA Commissioning Service]

The SPA Council

The Council has overall responsibility at Diocesan level for SPA ministry support, oversight, and training. It is accountable to the Diocesan Bishop via the Ministry and Training Committee

  • The Council is responsible for ensuring the provision of appropriate recruitment, selection, training, assessment, and in-service training for SPAs, and for monitoring the work of those involved in these processes.
  • The Council seeks to identify issues affecting SPAs in their work and to act proactively to address them
  • The Council seeks to promote SPA ministry within the diocese
  • The Council works to ensure that those currently involved in SPA ministry are adequately resourced.

Contacting the SPA Council

If you have issues or suggestions you would like the SPA Council to consider please contact:

Bishop Christopher Chessun
President of the SPA Council

or Co-ordinator of Training
020 7939 9424

SPA Discernment and Training

SPA is an authorised ministry on behalf of the church.  You will need the backing of your incumbent / priest-in-charge and the PCC before you proceed to selection and training for SPA ministry and you will need to attend a Vocations Forum. Click here for more information about a Vocations Forum.

We will ask you to fill in an application form and provide a reference from your priest and someone of your choosing who can comment on your suitability for pastoral care ministry.

You may then be invited to a selection day. 


The SPA Training Programme

Lasts two years on a part time basis. Sessions normally take place on Tuesday evenings in Trinity House from 7pm to 8.50pm. There is usually one Saturday session per term, and three residential weekends over the two-year training programme. The Programme includes:

  • visits and a placement in different caring agencies (e.g. a hospital, a prison, a centre for refugee and asylum seekers).
  • skills based training on listening, assessing people needs, team working and planning new caring initiatives

It also:

  • Brings together personal and spiritual development with skills and knowledge related to pastoral care work in a variety of settings.
  • Seeks to value the experience you bring and to build on it.
  • Aims to make you more confident and skilled in your own pastoral care work, and to enable you to provide leadership and guidance to others involved in caring ministry in your church.

Uses a variety of methods and is aimed at being both accessible and challenging.

The cost of the SPA course is £600 for a two-year course.

To enquire about SPA Training, please contact Zoe Skilton.

Post Commissioning Courses