Director of Vocations, the Revd Canon Sarah Fenby, writes in this Church House Blog about the ways in which we can all play our role in encouraging vocation, in ourselves and others around us, through relationships, conversations, and careful listening.
02 July 2021
By Canon Sarah Fenby, Director of Vocations
Let's talk vocations!
It has been really energizing to do just that recently at various Deanery Synods, asking: how do we grow a vocations culture in our parishes?
Vocation, if it helps, is from the Latin vocare, meaning: ‘to call upon, summon, name.’
God summons each one of us by name - and though it can seem like a cliché to say it - we are called to the greatest of adventures: of knowing, trusting, serving, and being transformed, as a part of His people and His purposes. Our vocation (read: summons, calling) is then to be caught up in His ventures, becoming a visible witness to His name and love, in many varied expressions, contexts, and sectors of life.
Thus, our talk about vocations cannot help but be God-talk. Often it is as we begin to talk to each other about God that we begin also to work out our sense of our purpose as His people and of our individual lives. Talking God is good vocations talk! Deaneries have touched on God-talk: God active in His world; God who sees and believes in us all; God who cares about injustice, alienation, welcome, relationships, worship, proclamation of good news, and the planet; God who does amazing things in and through us, despite our mess and failures; God who knows us personally.
God calls us by name, thus wonderfully there is an invitation to us each to talk out our own vocation(s) at each stage of life. These maybe callings to certain relationships, to social roles and community engagement, they may be ministerial callings of one kind or another; we each have them. ‘Everyone has a vocation (a card on my pinboard declares)..find yours!’ It would be great if we could just find our vocation on a shop shelf, wouldn’t it?! But actually we discover our vocation by sharing the things that are most precious within us, our uncertainties and enquiries, our sense of God’s whispering to our soul, with others (and God) in conversation. We do need to talk it out, share it with others.
Deaneries have Vocations Advisers, both lay and ordained, who are offering that listening and talking space, using some excellent materials for exploring God’s call. My colleagues and I in the vocations and ordinations teams at Church House can offer that listening and talking space too, but we can each offer it as well. Every incumbent and licensed lay minister, every lay small group leader, every parent and friend, might have great vocation conversations, asking questions such as: ‘what will you do with your one wild and precious life?’, ‘what energises and is life-giving for you?’ ‘What do you see yourself being and doing for God’s glory?’, ‘what change would you be for the world or the church?’ ‘What do you see of the Lord’s imagination for this situation? Your life?’ ‘What is the Lord unfolding to you of himself at the moment?’
I like to imagine the great conversation around vocation on-going in each church community, and in many places besides, (that’s my prayer), but I suspect we could all be better conversationalists, better able to listen, prompt, ask good questions, of ourselves and others. Let’s keep the conversation alive, for it's in relationship and talking out that we build momentum and the beginnings of a culture where all find ourselves contributing to the visible witness to God’s reconciling love, and to a generative vocations culture.
Canon Sarah Fenby
Diocesan Director of Vocations
Are you being called by God? Speak to your parish priest, or contact the Director of Vocations, Sarah Fenby, to arrange an informal conversation with a vocations adviser.
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Trainee ordinand Jo Rodman
What if you could combine ordained ministry with a love of ice cream? Well, for Jo Rodman that's exactly what she intends to do. She begins her ordination training in September and hopes to combine this with her ministry running a social enterprise ice cream business in Poynton.