Monday, 11 April 2011

Self-Supporting Ministry

BRIN (British Religion in Numbers) reports on a study of Self-Supporting Ministry in the UK.

Self-Supporting Ministry

In 2009 3,100 or 27% of all the Church of England’s diocesan licensed ministers were in self-supporting ministry (SSM), sometimes described as non-stipendiary ministry. Hitherto, comparatively little has been known about these SSMs and how they are utilized by the Church.

That omission is now rectified by research published in the Church Times of 1 April 2011 (pp. 5, 22-3) and 8 April 2011 (pp. 4, 22-3, 30). These articles, together with some of the raw data in chart form, can be downloaded from:

http://www.1pf.co.uk/SSM.html

The study was undertaken by Rev Dr Teresa Morgan, Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Oriel College, Oxford and herself in the SSM, in the parish of Littlemore.

Fieldwork took place during the autumn of 2010 by means of an online questionnaire, to which 890 SSMs in the UK (but mostly from England) responded, representing 28% of the universe.

SSMs were found to contribute a significant amount of time to their ministry, with one-quarter putting in more than 30 hours a week and a further one-fifth between 20 and 30 hours. Only 15% spent fewer than 10 hours a week on their ministry.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority regarded their ministry as a privilege and a joy and had received extensive pre- and post-ordination training.

Notwithstanding, many respondents gave the clear impression that they were ‘ignored, overlooked or under-used’ in the Church, ‘parked somewhere, and left’, and ‘sidelined’. Some commented that stipendiary ministers appeared not to regard SSMs as ‘proper’ clergy and treated them badly.

Likewise, many SSMs reported a degree of stagnation in their ministry since ordination. 46% had held only one post since ordination, and 41% reported no change in their ministry during this time. Just 13% had lead responsibility for ministry in their parish or chaplaincy. 59% exercised no significant ministry beyond the Church. Almost one-quarter claimed to have received no ministerial development review.

Morgan is critical of the Church for its lack of strategy with regard to SSM and especially of the failure of dioceses to consider SSMs in their planning processes. She dismisses the raft of alleged impediments to the effective use of SSMs often cited by Church leaders, arguing that her survey has empirically disproved them.

The two reports in the Church Times are

Unpaid, unregarded, and under-used
Equipped and ready for action

although the second of these is only available to subscribers until Friday.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 11 April 2011 at 12:00pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

A tad ironic given the other term for which SSM is an acronym!

Posted by: Tobias Stanislas Haller on Monday, 11 April 2011 at 8:36pm BST

Dire reading. Comes as no surprise. Those of us who are SSM can take comfort, in knowing that we are treated little differently from many / most(?) other clergy.

The Church of England treats its ministers appallingly - it is in and of the culture - systemic.

The bishops could nt care less. The pastoral of the stipendiary ministers ranges from abysmal to non-exisistant. And Synod would rather p-ss about with a 'Covenant' ! (apparently).

Posted by: laurence roberts on Monday, 11 April 2011 at 9:10pm BST

Is there any breakdown of what percentage of this 27% are women? LettieJ

Posted by: Lettie James on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 1:11am BST

"self-supporting ministry (SSM)"

The history of this abbreviation may be lengthy and distinguished, but it IS confusing to introduce it here, when in Current Anglican Discussions, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage." (JMO)

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 5:00am BST

I always read it as Society of the Sacred Mission -- Kelham

:-)

Posted by: John Roch on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 11:23am BST

Yes, John, that's it. For me too, SSM means, and will always, Kelham.

So good was it, that the Church withdrew funding etc., from its excellent and unique training for the ordained ministry.

How impoverished we all are without it.

And yet SSM's witness is more prophetic than ever.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 10:47pm BST

"Moreover, the overwhelming majority regarded their ministry as a privilege and a joy and had received extensive pre- and post-ordination training."

This is good to hear. In New Zealand, the term covering such clergy is NSM - Non-stipendiary Ministers; a term which, perhaps, ought better describe those candidates for Holy Orders whose intention is to serve, from the beginning of their call to ministry, in a non-stipendiary capacity. However, in the N.Z. context, this desire to serve as non-stipendiary clergy seems to sometimes lapse - once ordination has been secured. NSMs seem, sometimes, keen to occupy stipendiary positions in the Church.

This can create some problems for professional clergy, whose intention to serve as full-timers has come from the willingness to forsake careers in other professions - in order to concentrate of serving the Church, to which they have felt called right from the beginning as full-time clergy persons.

When NSMs have already enjoyed a full-time career in other fields - before offering themselves as trainee clergy - their transfer to stipendiary clergy positions can be seen as contrary to their original intention at ordination. This can be a real inhibition for those whose call to ministry has always been a full-time vocation - especially when they have to vie with former NSMs for parish positions.

This is in no way to denigrate the situation where a non-stipendiary candidate for Holy Orders offers themselves for ministry in the Church. I know of many who are giving of their time and effort, on a purely voluntary basis, to further the work of God's Kingdom in the world. Thank God for their continuing and selfless ministry. They deserve the care and nurture of their fellow clergy and bishops - just as much as those of us who have been called into full-time ministry, even those of us who are now retired and still make themselves useful - on a non-stipendiary basis.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 at 1:30am BST

It is good to hear Ron’s view and I hope he won’t mind me making some response. What he says seems eminently sensible yet at the same time betrays underlying assumptions which the existence of priests who believe their priestly ministry to be ‘at work’ inescapably challenges. ‘Full timers’, he says, ‘forsake’ careers in ‘other professions’. Indisputably, all priests are ‘full timers’ (just as the baptised are ‘full time’ baptised; and incidentally, one can’t help but mention the number of ‘part timers’ who appear to be paid ‘full time’ stipends – but then every trade has its slackers). Then there is the sacrificial model, in which stipendiary clergy speak of having ‘sacrificed’ high flying and well rewarded careers. Perhaps some would have reached dizzy heights in the world beyond the church-as-institution, but my observation is that many would struggle.

A related question is that of ‘calling’. It constantly struck me as an examining chaplain who interviewed those with a ‘call’ that candidates routinely assumed the call was to a stipendiary post. So did ‘the Church’. I came to think the ‘call’ was really to a model of Christian ministry which took its shape from common practice and familiarity than any nuanced direction God was issuing. And many of the people were competently doing all sorts of work at the time – beyond the-church-as-institution - but could not, or chose not to, imagine that God could be calling them to priestly ministry within that very context.

Posted by: Hugh Valentine on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 at 10:03am BST

What I have always found fascinating about being a worker priest is how the church behaves as if there is a divide between itself and the rest of the world. It is OK to see worker priests as part of the bridge of that divide, but the assumption is inherently flawed. It seems to rest on a one-sided redemptive model (the church saving the world) which ignores the essentially incarnational nature of God and the calling to follow Jesus in completing the work of the Father. Many priests called to a parochial ministry understand that and incorporate it into their ministry, just as some worker priests fail to do so. What I always hope is that any debate about ordained priestly ministry will come back to a consideration of this tension that is played out in the story of Jesus i.e. no Easter without Christmas!

Posted by: Tom Keighley on Monday, 25 April 2011 at 11:34am BST

Please can you explain why the term NSM is still used, when SSM is more acceptable.To define a position in such a negative way as NSM is beyond my comprehension. How can we get rid of the term NSM for good?
Revd Michael Bushby

Posted by: Michael bushby on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 1:13am GMT

Quite Michael, why does the Church prefix the ministry of some by the description 'unpaid'? But then again, a 'training' minister of mine did describe my ministry as "your hobby"; he treated it as such as well....

Posted by: Rev'd Peter Doodes on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 5:03pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.