Practical experience

Depending on your specific pathway, you’ll undertake placements and projects designed to enrich your experience of the Church’s mission, and to develop your skills in pastoral care and communication. The placements will also help you discern the opportunities and complexities of the Church’s public role, and to reflect theologically on the role of the Church in society.

Jane Alty – First year Ordinand (2015/16)

Streatham Mission Placement Project

Aquinas wrote that where there is the beautiful, the good and the true, God is there. Part of the church’s mission is to celebrate and uphold what is good in creation and culture: so, in our missional work, we celebrated creativity in the form of arts and crafts.
We devised a Christmas Carol Service, ensuring everything was free of charge – and then we invited the community to come in and share with us. In this we reflected not only the missional purpose of the church as a whole, but also that of the church where we were placed, for its intention is to exist both as a resource for the community and as an outreach into the community.

In respect of the church building itself, the missional aim is to do away with the secular/sacred divide; all the space is envisaged as sacred, nothing is to be sealed off, but all is to be open.

The scope of that church’s mission is broad and generous, welcoming a whole array of people and providing a context in which all might flourish, such as small business hot-desking, coffee, food, bakery and much more. ‘Where people’s passions lie – there is something of God, seeing Christ in people already’. The aim is to be a context where conversations can happen.

Our contribution to the mission of the church was to organise a Festival Weekend. So, from Friday to Sunday, we lived and breathed mission and demonstrated love in action, not only in what we offered the community, but also in the way we worked with each other. The presence of God felt almost tangible, as the warmth of the welcome over that weekend and the gift offered began to set hearts on fire with love for God.

Gary Best

Reflections from a Church placement

I have made good friends, and I have learnt so much. Not just about the ritual aspect of the Eucharist, but also about respecting people and churches with differing views about Ministry. Most importantly for me, I have realised the importance of the Eucharist in my life. Coming from a church where Holy Communion is shared twice a month, and where I miss some of these due to residential weekends or other commitments, I recognise the importance of being fed and nourished by the body and blood of Jesus Christ. On occasion, I was feeling that something was missing in my spiritual life and I had not realised what it was. My time at St Luke’s has stirred a personal realisation of the importance of the Eucharist. The need to be reminded why I am who I am, and why I believe what I do, and a reminder of the sacrifice made for me by Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, the one true constant in my life.

David McEvoy – Second year part-time Reader Ministry (DipHE) student (2015-16)

Reflections on an experience

In our second year of Reader training we are required to carry out a placement of 30 hours in a pastoral setting. I did mine in Her Majesty’s Prison Thameside, in Plumstead, South East London, with eight full-day or half-day sessions in the prison’s Faith Centre (Chaplaincy) in Spring 2016, supervised by the Anglican Chaplain.

It was a fascinating experience. I shadowed three of the chaplains as they walked around the prison, talking to prisoners and staff in the accommodation wings, the Healthcare Unit and the Care and Segregation Unit. I attended meetings: a new prisoner induction and a Good Behaviour Review. I attended services in the Faith Centre, culminating in a joyous service on Easter Sunday where four prisoners were confirmed by the Bishop of Woolwich. I also had the deep privilege of preaching and leading intercessions one Sunday.

I was so impressed by the love, care and humour demonstrated by the chaplains as they helped prisoners and staff with emotional, spiritual and practical needs. It was a joy to talk to the prisoners and share worship with them, and I was moved by the welcome given me by the prisoners who really appreciated seeing a new face from ‘outside’.

The experience was challenging but I was in good hands, with excellent support from the Chaplains. The experience was also extremely rewarding. My reflections during and after the placement helped me understand how God works in prison through the work of the Chaplains, through the genuine enthusiasm for faith of the prisoners, and through the simple act of ‘being there’ with them. I was motivated to maintain my links with the prison and am now visiting a prisoner regularly.

Alexandra Wheeler – Second year Ordinand (2015/16)

Reflections on a hospital placement

A throw away comment from a chaplain about the provision of refreshments as part of the (NHS)Trust’s major incident plan prompted a reflection on a mug of tea, asking the question ‘what is the purpose of chaplaincy?’ It was only later that I came across this image used as a method of qualitative analysis, developed as part of a Methodist led chaplaincy project. The Mug of Tea (MoT) analysis determines outcomes by looking for the Most Significant Change (MSC) that emerged from the activity recorded. This in turn contributes to an evaluation of the (cost) effectiveness of chaplaincy.

The image encompasses literal refreshment but one that is part of a ‘ministry of presence’, to be available but not to require anything of those partaking. It is aromatic, and suggests warmth and security at a time of uncertainty and potentially the sudden onset of loss. It is reputed to be good for those in shock, a reviver and stimulant. It provides an opportunity for two people to connect.

Food was part of Jesus’ ministry, witness the ‘feeding of the 5,000, the provision of fish to the disciples at a time of great stress. Jesus was also the great conversationalist, chatting to the woman at the well over a drink of water, eating with the tax collector.

The mug of tea may be a metaphor for what can take place in chaplaincy ministry. Superficially refreshment but also it says ‘I am here, I am listening’ and, through this, change takes place which may be measured and evaluated.

"You asked me what the stained glass represented. I hazarded a guess looking through the dirt. “The Good Samaritan,” I offered, hesitantly. You seemed uncertain of the story so I outlined it to you.

You were incredulous. “Why would anyone not help someone they saw in trouble like that?”

I suggested that perhaps the equivalent today might be to help a wounded terrorist. You nodded.

After a silence, you commented that you thought the ‘Good Samaritan’ was a woman? “The ‘Woman at the Well’” I offered? You agreed. Another outsider, I was thinking but this time meeting Jesus face to face.

You were, alone, distant, missing the church community that you grew up with, the support of family and friends. Your need for reassurance, security came to the fore, the fear written across your face. Fear of the scan result, of what it might mean. In the silence, the tears welled up thinking of the devastation already wreaked by illness in your family and the prospect of history repeating itself.

With your agreement, I prayed. You stayed for the service, wept some more and left.

I will never know the outcome of your story. "
Alexandra Wheeler