Comments: Self-Supporting Ministry

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

Posted by Tobias Stanislas Haller at 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 at 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 at 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 at Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 5:00am BST

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


Posted by John Roch at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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 at Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 5:03pm BST
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