My second year full-time started well. I passed the supplementary exam with flying colours. Yes, there was a problem with the examining body wanting to only credit a pass mark. But the reason the exam had to be sat again was pointed out to them, I was credited with the mark I had actually achieved; a mark which spurred me on to do so much better. Up to that point I had been happy to simply get a pass mark for the whole course. But, now … Well, I set my sights that much higher.

Now the second year began with the focus not on the academic, but on the practical. This was the year of the one’s—New Testament I, Theology I, Church History I, and Greek New Testament I. But it was also the year of Preaching, and Parish and Pastoral Care. And I would be assessed on those two subjects based on some practical work.

Of course, that meant being attached to a local parish, in which I could receive some hands-on experience. But unfortunately for me, this didn’t really work out. Indeed, I was only asked to do one of the four sermons I was supposed to deliver in the parish. And it very quickly became obvious that the parish and pastoral work I was supposed to do, was a non-event.

This was a parish in trouble; it was pulling itself apart—principally over the Vicar’s wife teaching Yoga in the Vicarage. So, despite whatever indications and promises were given to me at the start, it became obvious that I was an unwelcome distraction.

The parish did, however, need a helper for a non-existent youth programme. So, when the programme finally got off the ground, I was allowed to help. But only as an extra body, whilst the curate took total control of the running of the programme.

Despite this, however, academically I was again engaged—even buoyed from my previous years’ experience. And again, it wasn’t long before the year was up, and it was time to do those exams.

But what about the assessment for Preaching, and Parish and Pastoral Work? Well, fortunately for me the college were able to offer a solution. Earlier in the year, it had been quite obvious that there would be a problem. Indeed, I would not be able to fulfil the minimum requirements of either subject working in that parish. But I had notified the college of the situation. As a consequence, with the college’s help, I was able to finish my second year, not only by passing all the academic exams, but by meeting all the minimum standards required for the practical subjects as well.

To be continued …

Posted: 22nd September 2017
© 2017, Brian A Curtis

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