A friend pointed me to this column by Matthew Caminer in Church Times (7 February). If you have a subscription you can read it online here: http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/7-february/comment/opinion/curacies-what-is-wrong-and-how-to-rectify-it or find it on page 16 of a paper copy . Matthew is a management consultant, CS and author of A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide.
I think CS’s and their clergy partners approaching the curacy might find it interesting reading. He argues that the CofE’s approach to new clergy is, ‘bureaucratic, rigid and out of date’ and no longer fit for purpose considering the demographic of people going forward for ordination. He also thinks that pastoral support at a diocesan level has become ‘diluted’ so that some curates, their families and training incumbents, lack the pastoral oversight and support needed. He talks about other issues as well and outlines a five-point plan for improving curacies, but these two points particularly resonated with me. Working in a secular setting during the curacy, it worried me that, both in terms of organisation and pastoral care, my workplace was setting a better example than the Church. I wish I had been aware that there would not be proactive pastoral support for us as a family. It would also have been handy to have had forewarning about the strange way things can be run in this institution. I hope that Matthew’s ideas will inspire Church leaders so that, as he says, ‘the shepherds are nurtured, and their families, too.’