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Thank you for the warm welcome I have received in the West Pendleside Benefice. I managed to spend time with so many of you and we have had
some delightful conversations about all manner of things! There are many highlights of my time spent with you, including my trips up to the church towers at Whalley and Sabden; celebrating the Harvest Festivals with you at Sabden and Pendleton; leading the ‘Being Witnesses’ course and of course joining in with many of the parish activities in the Benefice.
So why was I with you? The answer is that I was on a Placement as part of my training. I explained this to some but I sense that many parishioners are not aware of the training that is undertaken by clergy; so I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you what my training Includes.
I am ‘Assistant Curate’ to Revd. Martin Duerden who, as Incumbent of St Peter’s Salesbury, holds the ‘Cure of Souls’ in that Parish, just as Revd. Jonathan holds the ‘Cure of Souls’ in the Benefice of West Pendleside. An Assistant Curate is said to be serving their Title, which means completing 3 years of training before they are ‘signed off’ by the Bishop. This training comprises the practicalities of Priest craft and Parish ministry but some theoretical / academic study is involved. The holding of a BA or MA in Theology is encouraged and I am presently in my final year of studying for a BA (hons) in Practical Theology. The training in the Title Parish comprises all aspects of the duties of a parish priest, to equip us with the skills needed for the rewarding and at times challenging role of public ministry.
Blackburn Diocese supports Assistant Curates very well and we attend lots of Training Days as well as an annual Residential
each year. Every year we study a topic e.g. mission, discipleship, leadership. My Placement has supported my studies in leadership, enabling me to gain experience of ministry in a multi parish Benefice.
The Training for Assistant Curates is referred to as IME2 (Initial Ministerial Education) and is funded entirely by the Diocese. Setting this in context IME1 refers to the training received as an Ordinand, which is funded nationally by the Ministry Division. Training as an Ordinand can be done full time or part time at regional colleges and can take up to three years depending on the study route taken. I worked full time throughout IME1 and trained part time, taking three years to complete.  
I have shared my journey with you, but each one of us has our own journey with God. Some of you will have noticed that I am no ‘spring chicken!’ You can do the maths; I was 57 when I started IME1. God doesn’t let our age become a barrier to doing His work and it’s not all about being ordained! God gives each one of us gifts that we can use to bring Him glory and Lay ministry is vitally important for God’s work. Trust God……..
‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29: 11)
God loves you and He will sustain you to do His work……
‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4: 11)
I am now in my final year of training and wait prayerfully for God to reveal to me in 2019 where I can best serve His people. The caption states ‘work in progress’. I believe we are all ‘a work in progress’.
Love Lesley x