Trinny and Susannah do Clergy

David over at wannabepriest has a very interesting post on the few things that he’d like to be taught at Ridley Vicar Factory apart from Doctrine. Ridley, for those who don’t know it, is in a little inconsequential town somewhere near Peterborough. Yours truly studied at Wycliffe in Oxford, a fine academic institution of dreaming spires and dreamier students (or at least the beautiful D Phil I met there and married occupied my thoughts day and night…)

Anyway, back to the point – here’s his list of the “extras” he’s wishing for over the next few terms:

  1. The ‘What not to Wear’ lecture
    A lecturer (or perhaps even a vestments maker) stands a dummy in the lecture hall and dresses it with all the various clergy garb, explaining what each is called and what it means and when you should wear it and when you shouldn’t. I’m not proud – I admit I haven’t got a clue what it’s all about. I’ve never needed to before so why would I?
  2. The visit to the morgue
    I have never seen a dead body. I think it might be a good idea to see one or two, get over the fainting etc. before I see one ‘for real’ and have to be suitably holy and wise.
  3. The ‘Change Management’ lectures
    Not so much a single lecture as a course in good practice in ‘change management’. Not that we should be indoctrinated to change every church as soon as we arrive, but sooner or later, change is going to happen to every church and knowing how to manage that well has to be crucial.
  4. The ‘Being an entrepreneur’ lectures
    As Synod seem ready to debate, our post-Christian context requires us to be missionaries, pioneers, entrepreneurs. I would like to see us getting an education from real entrepreneurs… and not those working in Christian contexts… those who are doing it for real, the hard way, in the real world.
  5. How to deal with PCCs and churchwardens
    While I am sure some of us would love to reinvent the church structures, the fact is that the Church of England has a very well established set of structures… so we had better learn fast how to deal with them, what sort of people we should be looking for in different positions, what makes a good churchwarden etc.
  6. Canon law – what’s in it and why it matters
    I know it’s pretty revolutionary to actually take Canon law into any kind of sentence amongst evangelicals, but the Church of England does have its own rulebook. I was intrigued by John Rees’ chapter in The Future of the Parish System and it reinforced for me the need to know Canon law and the structures of the Church so well that they can serve rather than be served.
  7. Finding and serving a curacy
    What to look out for, do you choose the church or the vicar, training opportunities, how to serve someone else’s vision etc etc etc.
  8. How to be a good ’swinger’
    Included at my friend Tiffer’s request, how to swing a thurifer with aplomb. I have this great mental image of us all lined up on the grass in Ridley’s Court (Cambridge have ‘Courts’, Oxford have ‘Quads’) swinging incense around us like Harry Potter and his schoolmates getting their first broomstick lesson.

Might I humbly suggest the following additions:

  1. How to please everybody
    Frankly any college that can teach this should instantly have ALL ordinands sent to it and it alone.
  2. How to be a Bishop’s Chaplain
    Scenario – Your boss is the Rural Dean and there’s an installation happening in the neighbouring parish. Who’s going to end up as Chaplain for the Suffragan Bishop? This course would include where to stand, when to stand, how to stand and how to look as inconspicuous as possible as you’re standing holding the crozier while everybody is kneeling down.
  3. What to do on an Ordination Retreat
    Just what is the protocol for the retreat? Which dioceses demand you wear a cassock all the time and stay silent – which are much more chilled out and involve games of Mornington Crescent over breakfast as the spiritual high point. This course should be taught at the same time as the “How to pick a Curacy” course above.

I think that’s a good start for now.