The last time I wrote a reflection on my internship, it was March 20th. It was before Easter and the build up to that, before a bit of a holiday, before my Bishops Advisory Panel and before the HTB Leadership Conference. A lot has happened and I won’t be able to recap it all, but here’s a few thoughts!
Church wasn’t too crazy for me over Easter, especially since I was in full preparation mode for my BAP. Nevertheless, it was a good experience and even with my limited involvement being at church on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, you can quickly see how it starts to become a crazy season with lots and lots of services. It was enjoyable though, and celebratory. There were Churches Together events and I preached at a Palm Sunday service which is a fantastic story in the lead up to Holy Week.
After that Catherine and I went away for the week with her parents and sister, and I had a good relaxed time before the BAP, completely overthinking it but not doing too much more by way of preparation. We got back at the weekend, and on Monday I was off to Shallowford for my panel….
So you think you can BAP?
It took me around 3 1/2 hours to get to Shallowford House in Stone, Staffordshire, by the time I got three trains with gaps in between and a taxi from the station. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was quite nervous, but arriving a couple of hours early I had plenty of time to get settled in before the start of the evening sessions. That first evening consisted of icebreakers, dinner, the personal inventory, night prayer and a bit of a chat at the bar! We were also given the pastoral exercise. As with any social situation it took a bit of time to get used to one another (there was a full panel: 16 of us in two groups of 8 and 6 advisors) but already by the end of that first day there was a good sense of team spirit and we had began to gel together quite well.
Day 2 started with Communion and breakfast, followed by all 8 of our presentations and discussions. It was intense and a bit worrying, especially given that I had hoped to go first and ended up dead last! The time absolutely flew by in the end, with presentations and discussions ranging from youth ministry to clergy dress. Last but not least, my presentation also went to plan and the discussion was really interesting and thought provoking. That was most people’s biggest worry out of the way by lunchtime and the rest of the day was filled with free time, time to write the pastoral exercise and interviews. Some had 2 interviews that day and only 1 on Wednesday; I happened to have only 1 on Tuesday and not until 5:15pm and so I headed back to my room to have a bit of a sleep and wrote the pastoral letter. I was quite worried I’d get it wrong and continued to worry about it for the rest of the panel, but decided to just write what seemed like an appropriate response and left it at that.
That first interview was my Educational Interview and it was definitely the one I was least happy with. The following day I had my Vocational interview at 11am which I really enjoyed, and my Pastoral interview at 2pm which didn’t feel at all like an interview! But the time flew by and later on that third day, I found myself getting the train home and trying not to worry about it all – I would find out the results in about 9 days time.
Finally, last week we were at the Alpha/HTB Leadership Conference at the Royal Albert Hall. We arrived quite late on Sunday night after I’d preached twice in the morning and gotten 2 trains, and the conference was on Monday and Tuesday, before a similar journey got me home for around 3pm on Wednesday. I found the seminars most helpful, going to the one about parish culture and mission on Tuesday and a Q&A with Simon Sinek on Wednesday afternoon. I enjoyed the worship and all of the interviews, and the evening speakers were good but not really my cup of tea! It was a fantastic experience all in all, and a massive privilege to be there as an intern so I’m thankful for the opportunity.
After getting back I had to wait two agonising days until Friday to hear back about my BAP, having already waited a week! I was sitting by the phone at around 3:30 on Friday afternoon when Sue, my DDO, gave me a call to tell me that I’ve been recommended for training for ordination!
More will follow soon on that whole journey and what happens next!