Title Post Curacies

(Policy for Deploying Stipendiary Curates)

The policy for stipendiary curates in the Diocese exists:

  • to provide a known and agreed framework for the deployment of curates
  • to facilitate the identification of places where curates can best, and appropriately, be placed, bearing in mind both pastoral and training issues
  • to set deployment within a budgetary framework

All curates have Qualified Common Tenure.

Title Posts

Each year, the number of stipendiary Title posts is established with reference to the Ministry Division national allocation and within the budgetary provision of the Diocese. It is the clear expectation that a stipendiary Title post shall last no less than three years and no more than four years, and the licence issued will reflect this. All curates will also have a Learning Agreement, reviewed annually, and a Statement of Particulars. Self supporting title posts shall last between 4-6 years, depending on local circumstances.

The overall responsibility for all matters concerning the provision of this ministry in the diocese rests with the Bishop of Dorking. Decisions about the placing of people in their Title post will be made by the Titles Group, comprising the Bishop of Dorking, the Director of Ordinands, the Director of Ministerial Training and the Archdeacons. The management of the task rests with the Director of Ordinands and he Director of Ministerial Training, though the Archdeacons also have a critical role to play in approving prospective candidates. The Learning Agreement is set up by the Tutor for Assessing the End of Curacy.

The Process for Selecting Training Incumbents and Title Post Parishes

In the past, training Incumbents and Title parishes were selected because they could offer broad exposure to the range of parochial ministry. Such parishes/Incumbents expected to receive a continuous flow of curates, and saw it partly as their right and partly as their duty to the wider church.

With the decrease in the number of newly ordained during the 70s/80s, it became clear that there were not enough curates to fill national vacancies, and an attempt was made to limit the number of clergy (and therefore deacons) each diocese could take. The aim was to find an equitable way of sharing out clergy/curates among dioceses which were not as popular or financially secure as Guildford.

An added factor was the changing nature of the face of the 'average' curate. The arrival of women onto the scene, the disappearance of age limitations, the increase in self supporting ministers and the advent of Ordained Local Ministry affected the profile of clergy, but also the ministerial needs of parishes (which were most often becoming groups, teams and united benefices).

The changing culture of flexibility and person-centred decision making has had its own ramifications on what is becoming an increasingly complex process. There was an attempt in the mid 90s to produce a numerical system of equity based on points scored (or not scored) for size of congregation, number of others in authorised ministry, electoral roll etc, but there were too many variables for it to be effective and this emphasised the apparent need of the parish rather than the needs of the curate. The stipend is paid by the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF), but the parish needs to provide adequate housing and expenses.

The situation now is that:

OLMs come from and stay within their own parish/benefice, at least for the first 6 years, as their availability and proposed ministry is clear from the outset.

Other self-supporting ministers are deployable and will serve a title post close to home, but not in their home parish. The criteria for choosing Title posts for self-supporting ministers cannot be applied as rigorously as for stipendiary ministers because their circumstances are very individual and many of them are deployable within a limited geographical range.

Our diocesan stipendiary curates are offered a title post by the Bishop (through the DDO) or released to look for a post elsewhere. The diocese walks a middle path between accommodating the perceived needs of the individual and serving the needs of the wider church in the best way. This has meant there are more clergy from a wider range of parishes who become training Incumbents and limits the choice of Incumbent/parish for those making the decisions about Title posts. There are usually 5-7 full-time stipendiary posts.

There is some flexibility for those who are already attached to prison or school chaplaincies. They will receive some training from a colleague/Chaplain appropriate to their role in the institution, but they are also attached to a parish for training, although it is recognised that this will be limited. The parish needs to be close to the institution in which they work.

The process is that all Incumbents are invited in January each year to apply to be considered to train a curate in the next year - i.e. for 2017, the form will be completed in January 2016. The Titles Group will consider all applications and make decisions about where to place curates.

Selection of Training Incumbents

The criteria for choosing training Incumbents and, therefore, the Title parishes for those entering full time deployable, stipendiary ministry are:

  • the proven track record or recognised potential of the Incumbent to be a good training Incumbent
  • that a parish has at least one year fallow between curacies (with no guarantee that the gap will not be longer than this)
  • what is know about the plans of the Incumbent - moving on, retirement etc
  • the number of other authorised ministers already in operation
  • numbers on the Electoral Roll
  • the church tradition of the incoming available curates and the churches
  • the mission needs and opportunities which have been identified
  • the potential relationship between the Incumbent and the possible curates
  • gender and age
  • that proper consideration has been given by the PCC/Incumbent to the financial implications of having a curate
  • that the Incumbent and the parish are engaged properly with diocesan structures and policies - e.g. paying parish share

​​Once decisions have been made as to which parishes are to receive Title post curacies, the DDO will work with the Incumbent in the search for a suitable candidate. The Archdeacon will need to be satisfied that the person is suitable for the parish and fit to be presented to the Bishop for ordination. The Archdeacon will take up references and the DDO will keep the Archdeacon informed of all college and course reports. When all this is complete, the ordaining Bishop will interview that person. Due consideration to be given to the needs of the spouse and family (where appropriate). It is important that the spouse is included throughout the process without being interviewed!

Beginning the Curacy

As the curacy begins, the Bishop will be looking for:

  • a clear, comprehensive Learning Agreement which will be agreed by the Tutor for Assessing the End of Curacy
  • a pattern of regular and ordered staff meetings in the parish for the management of the day to day business of ministry, as well as regular opportunities for structured supervision
  • the sharing of daily prayer. The spirit, if not the letter, of the requirement on clergy to say the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer must be kept.
  • the provision of housing to a standard agreed with the diocese for those in stipendiary ministry
  • an unambiguous commitment to the IME 4-7 programme and to training incumbent sessions

​​IME 4-7 and Assessing the End of Curacy

For the first four years of ordained ministry, a deacon/priest continues in mandatory Initial Ministerial Education, including a structured review process called Assessing the End of Curacy. There is a process of review and appraisal designed to provide a pattern of continuing reflection on ministerial experience, training and development. In particular, it forms the basis of the interview with the Bishop prior to priesting and with the Archdeacon at the appropriate time to discuss future deployment. In IME 4 and 6, there is a full appraisal and in IME 5, it is conducted internally in the parish.

The curacy will be assessed formally by the diocese and South Central Regional Training Partnership. The IME 4-7 programme is a crucial part of this and attendance is required by the Bishop. As a whole, this part of the provision seeks to:

  • help consolidate practical skills
  • provide opportunities for theological reflection
  • enable individual growth, both spiritually and in self-awareness
  • develop collaborative ministry
  • facilitate transitions - to ordained ministry and then to further responsibility
  • provide support in the early years of ministry
  • provide appropriate ways of enhancing academic qualifications

This can only be achieved​ by a three-way collaborative process involving the curate, the training Incumbent and the diocese. There are daytime peer groups in each of the four years and an evening group for those who have other employment. Each of these groups is led by different tutors and has a different emphasis. There is also a group for Training Incumbents, which is as much a part of the diocesan provision as the groups for the curates. Training Incumbents are expected to participate in this programme and also to attend an SRI course, 'Working with the Newly Ordained'.

Towards the end of IME 6, stipendiary curates' portfolios will be assessed and they will have an interview with the Archdeacon - principally concerned with the identification of the appropriate next move. Self-supporting curates will have an interview with the Archdeacon towards the end of IME 7 and their portfolios will be assessed then. It is assumed that an OLM curate will serve at least 6 years before being considered for a change of focus, but portfolios will be assessed at the end of IME 7. It may be possible and advisable for a curate to be working towards a further qualification, though it is not the norm and must be discussed individually.

Moving On

Curates have qualified common tenure. A stipendiary title post in the Diocese of Guildford is for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 4, and this is reflected in the licence and the Statement of Particulars. It is the curate's responsibility to ensure that s/he has made provision for future role, stipend and housing, though the Diocese will do everything it can to help. A stipendiary curate who has not been appointed to a new post by 30th June in IME 7 may be given PTO for a period of 3 months (renewable once) and will negotiate housing provision with the parish. Their stipend will cease on 30th June of their 4th year.

Stipendiary curates may not apply for the next post until they have received a letter of completion from the Bishop and must advise the Bishop and Archdeacon of all applications they make. Curates are advised to read the booklet Moving On which will be provided at the beginning of IME 6. Self-supporting ministers (deployable or locally deployable) may need longer than 4 years to complete their title post, and so their licence and Statement of Particulars will reflect this, giving them a maximum of 6 years in which to do this. The process of discernment for the future will begin not later than 6 years, but not before 4 years after ordination.

Non-Title Curacy Posts or Associate Minister Posts

Greater flexibility is required in the area of non-Title curacies both to meet the changing needs for ministry in the diocese, and to cope with the differing needs/gifts/expectations of the available priests/ministers. Parishes hoping to have a non-Title curacy post should always consul the relevant Archdeacon before making any appointment. The budget for assistant staff provides for a number of posts, with no explicit allowance for vacancies. This number is a budgetary one, and does not reflect a specific establishment at any given moment. it is reviewed annually.

The diocese will progressively move to using points A and B to reflect special responsibilities. This process of change can only be implemented slowly. It is unlikely that all non-Title curacy posts can be recognised in this way. Whether the person concerned is to be called Assistant Curate or Associate Minister must be discussed with the Archdeacon and the appropriate Resolution be passed.

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“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;

it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31

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