At times the GOE tries to be the hipster GOE, smoking clove cigarettes and growing a throwback 80s Tom Selleck mustache, wearing a pork pie hat and only using locally sourced free range whalebone knitting needles. Two years ago, the question for theory and practice of ministry was to write a social
|Flanders' beatnik dad: "We've tried nothing and we're out of ideas."|
In fact, the GOE closes out strong. Crusty just can't quit you, GOE. Just when he thought you were saving the best WTF Hipster Question for last, you come up with an Axios! On the last question.
Set 7: Theory and Practice of Ministry
NO EXTERNAL RESOURCES
During your first year as the only clergy of a parish, you discover the parish has dire budget problems and the very survival of the parish is at stake.
The congregation is slowly growing but you know that even parishioners giving more generously would not be enough to make a significant dent in the church's financial outlook. There is a small unrestricted endowment.
Write an essay of 1,500 words to explain how you would approach this dilemma theologically, pastorally, and practically. Your answer should include how you would use this as an opportunity to engage the congregation and wider community in mission-oriented ministry.
Crusty got no major beefs with this question. You certainly can't accuse the GOE of coming up with a scenario that's implausible: this is something that is all too much a reality for many of the church's congregations. COD does grumble a bit about "discovering" the "dire" budget problems that have the "very survival of the parish at stake." If you're truly unaware the place had budget problems until after you arrive at a new position, then there are other issues involved, too. Either you didn't ask the right questions or they didn't provide you with the proper materials during the search process. COD hopes no one would take any position without knowing full well the reality of the situation. Crusty knew damn well what he was getting into by moving into theological education at a small, stand-alone Episcopal seminary at a time when seismic ripples are moving through higher education and the church is also going through substantive changes. You can read more about COD's thoughts on that here, in Chapter 6.
But that aside from that beef: That'll do, Set 7. That'll do. You asked a question that is assessing the current reality in many churches, unlike some of these other questions. The response calls on the student to address the "theological, pastoral, and practical" responses. This is exactly what needs to be done to
|I've never been good at goodbyes…So that'll do, Pig. That'll do.|
Well done, Set 7. You receive the ranking of: Axios! for a question that actually assesses something clergy in the 21st century will need to be able to do.
So, to recap, for our 7 canonical areas. We had
--one ranking of Axios!
--one ranking of Axios*!,
--four rankings of "Meh"
--and one memorable WTF! ranking.
An interesting trends in this year's GOE of asking students to apply interpretation of concepts from these canonical areas to practical issues, albeit in varying degrees of success. Set 6 had a kind of forced and contrived congregational component, Set 7 an all-too-real one. [It's too soon for any additional
|We do not speak that set's name.|
Well, friends, it's time for Crusty to ride off into the sunset on this year's GOE blogging, or at least downstairs to the GOE After Party. Thanks for joining me for the ride, though COD is continually perplexed as to why anyone cares what he thinks about anything, this blog came about mainly to spare CODW (Crusty Old Dean's Wife) from rolling her eyes as he pontificates on the state of the church and the world. And despite what you may think, and what Crusty has been accused of by some people, COD is not opposed to the GOEs. Crusty loves the fact the Episcopal Church has always had a competency-based system, ever since the Course of Ecclesiastical Studies introduced by William White. There's never been a single standard, unlike, say, the PCUSA or ELCA or Roman Catholic Church where degrees are normative, even written into polity in some cases. With a competency based system, we have an inherit flexibility -- should we ever choose fully to embrace it -- in how we train persons for the ordained ministry. Crusty thinks something like the GOE is an essential component of a competency based system for training people for the ministry. That said, we need to admit where current aspects of the system need overhauling. We put a lot of time and energy in writing, administering, and assessing an exam when, in the end, it's the diocesan board of examining chaplains and local bishop who make the call. COD has suggested before that the GBEC simply write the exam and let dioceses administer and assess it, since they're the ones whose opinion matters in the end. But there clearly needs to be a broad discussion, with broad input, other than complaining about the same old system every year.
And Crusty freely admits he's had some hard words for how these questions have been posed. He doesn't apologize. People who have little agency in this system -- the students taking this exam -- are the ones whose processes towards ordination hang in the balance of what Crusty believes has been, at times, poorly worded questions and at other times ridiculous questions to be the basis on which to determine competency in a particular canonical area (Crusty's looking at you, Set 5). COD doesn't think students should be the ones holding the bag for poor questions. Part of Crusty's reasoning for blogging the GOEs is to provide at least some transparency in what is an opaque process. Opaqueness in a process benefits those with the power; transparency benefits the process as a whole, and especially those without agency in that process. As for saying some hard things; well, too bad, sunshine. Crusty has worked for over 15 years in the church, and drafted documents and resolutions and concordats and proposals, and has had people say worse things than anything written here. Crusty's been told he doesn't understand Anglicanism, that's he's a raging liberal, that he's a brain dead conservative, that "he has sold the apostolic heritage of Anglicanism for a mess of Protestant lentils," and so on. Crusty's always been willing to be held accountable for what he has put before the church, and expects nothing less from others.
So be good, people. Remember to stay grounded in prayer, Christian discipleship is hard and the only way to make it is to develop and cultivate a life of prayer. Exercise regularly, it's the only free and 100% effective way to avoid numerous health problems. And have at least one minor vice to show the world you're human.
Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do more than we can ask or imagine; Glory to God from generation to generation in the church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever.