Last week, I was at my final probationers' conference. Before going, I was a little apprehensive, as conferences 2 and 3 had not been as useful as we all had hoped, though I do wonder if that brought us together as a group! On the other hand, I was looking forward to catching up with my peers.
It was a good week, despite our reservations. On paper, some of the topics seemed very dry - "The Vacancy Procedure," "Living in a manse," "Moderating a Kirk Session," to name a few. But, due to the quality of those leading the sessions, they turned out to be very useful indeed. In the former of those sessions (along with "The first year in ministry) we were asked what our hopes and fears were. That was really helpful, as we were all coming from the same place, so what I was feeling wasn't unique (*wipes brow in relief*).
It did seem a little odd the probationer Deacons not joining us for the first year in ministry session. Yes, I know there's a difference between being the minister 'in charge' and the role of a deacon, but in 1 year time we will all be well into our first year of ministering.
One of the best sessions was around Moderation Kirk Sessions. The person leading this is an exceptionally experienced minister, with great insight and wisdom, which I know I will tuck away for future use. As part of the session, we had a mock Kirk Session and yours truly was 'The Minister.' That was very useful, and I actually was 'pleased' to have had the chance to do that. As a group, we had become comfortable with one another, so I knew it was a supportive vibe in the room, even though everyone had their 'roles' with the session. It gave the chance to put into practise some of what we'd been taught. I suspect my peers also saw me in a different light, as I 'filled' the role as minister.
Of the week, the only session I struggled with was the Preaching Difficult Texts session. It was run in a very proscriptive way by the session leader, which came after a day looking at collaborative ministry. I don't think the irony was lost on anyone. And, as we approach the end of probation, it is odd to give us this at this stage - one in a parish, we can completely avoid them if we wish! Maybe this would fit better in the first probation conference - then the OLMs could also benefit from it.
Which does make me think there's a lot the OLMs miss out on. They do not get told about their roles as trustees, which they will be as a member of a Kirk Session; they do not get the sessions on Mission, moderating Kirk Sessions or chaplaincy, to name 3, though depending on their deployment/situation, they maybe well be involved in this.
Overall, what I've taken away from these conferences has been connecting with my peers, getting support from them, getting to know them. And, we've all seen one another grow. At the end of conference, 1 of my peers told em they were a little unsure when they saw my name on the list of probationers, as they thought I was very uptight, but they had found I can funny and wise, sometimes at the same time! From that individual, that was praise indeed.
The question now is, how to keep in touch with them all...maybe I should consider joining Facebook?