Saturday, September the 14th 2013 dawned with a glorious sunrise in what would soon become the 34°C shimmering heat of Seville Airport. The evening would find me in a cooler 11°C, singing a beautiful service of Compline.
What happened inbetween involved a plane, a car, a traffic jam, a large group of strangers and a few reams of paper.
This was to be the official start of my training as an Ordinand and it was exciting – despite even the traffic jam!
The Induction Weekend had arrived….
When I consulted the dictionary it actually gave me five senses in which the verb ‘to induct’ could be used [Other dictionaries are available and may give more]. Did they all apply to this rite of passage?
1. To officially give someone a new job or position
I think we all arrived feeling a little aware that we would no longer be the ‘ordinary’ people who worshipped in our local churches, worked in our everyday jobs, were husbands, wives, mums, dads etc. We were now to be officially know by the title ‘Ordinand’ – each one of us a candidate for ordination. Even so, I still felt quite ordinary because that future occasion, the Ceremony of Induction, when a new Parish Priest is formally presented to their parish was still just a hazy marker somewhere in the distance.
2. To accept people into an exclusive society or group
Looking around my surroundings there was a perception that here was a place that had produced and nurtured a great many worthy theologians, with its mellow brick walls and quaint passages and stairways. At the same time there was a real sense of modernity and purpose. It may very well be an academic institution but this was to be no vicar sausage factory. ‘Holy Hogwarts‘, as Ripon College, Cuddesdon is affectionately known, demonstrated almost immediately the inclusivity it prides itself on by welcoming such a diverse group of people who will each be individually transformed over the next few years to serve in the Anglican church.
3. To admit as a member; to officially accept someone into a group
Perhaps this was to be the most important part of the induction process. Having arrived late I was unsure how I would fit in – the introductions and icebreaker moments having passed. Plonking down my overnight bag and then being whisked to see one tutor, then straight into a seminar that had already started, I literally only had time to remember to keep breathing! However, the overwhelming friendship shown during our refreshment break and over the rest of the weekend, was enough to make me feel blessed that here were a group of strangers that over our time together would become good companions on the journey
4. To teach someone about something
This is the scary bit! I was never very good at school… either in temperament or academically. I was intelligent, but never really discovered any reason to demonstrate that intelligence in the form of exam results! Now I am about to undertake a Masters Degree in Ministry. The reams of handouts pointed me towards the different modules or topics I could choose. There were options to learn Greek and Hebrew and opportunities for attending additional lectures. I hope that I am mature enough now to apply myself to this form of learning; but I also believe that alongside all I will be learning about ministry, I will also be learning a lot about myself over the next two years. Our formation will come about not only through our capacity to learn but through our ability to be broken open and fulfil the potential God has set aside for us.
5. To produce an electric current by electrostatic or magnetic processes
This fifth and final sense then is the most exciting! I am saving the interior shots from inside the Bishop Edward King Chapel, a modern architectural miracle, for another blog; suffice to say our Sunday morning Eucharist was electrified by being in such an innovative and uplifting worship space.
Our small congregation, including family and supporters sang and it was as if they had become a multitude. There was a palpable sense of the Holy Spirit moving among us.
The next stage of the journey has begun…..Alleluia!
For more information about the Bishop Edward King Chapel and why it is up for the RIBA Stirling Prize follow this link