Each year, the number of stipendiary title posts is established with reference to the Ministry Team national allocation, and within the budgetary provision of the Diocese of Guildford.
Currently, new stipendiary Title Posts last a minimum of two years and six months and no more than three years and one month.
All Curates will also have a Working Agreement, reviewed annually, and a Statement of Particulars.
Self-supporting Title Posts last between three-four years, depending on local circumstances.
Who is responsible for placing Title Posts?
The overall responsibility for all matters concerning curacy rests with the Bishop of Dorking.
Decisions about the placing of people in their Title Post is made by the Titles Group, comprising the Bishop of Dorking, the Archdeacons, the Director of Mission and the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO - who administers the Titles process).
OLM Curates come from and stay within their own parish/benefice for the full extent of their ordained ministry (unless they apply for a Change of Focus for their ministry, which is assessed by the Sponsoring Bishop with guidance from a panel who interview the applicant).
Other self-supporting ministers are deployable and serve a Title Post close to home, but not in their home parish. They are also normally deployed to a new context post-curacy.
Our diocesan stipendiary Curates are offered a Title Post by the Bishop (through the DDO) or released to look for a post elsewhere (ordinands may ask to be ‘released’ if seeking a curacy outside the diocese).
In placing curates, the Titles Group prioritises the formational and training needs of the Curate over the needs of any local church (Curates are not an extra pair of hands to enable a parish to do more). There are usually nine full-time stipendiary posts, although funding in support of three of these posts is external strategic funding.
By agreement, there may be some flexibility for those who are already involved in chaplaincies. Such Curates often continue to receive some training from a colleague/Chaplain appropriate to their role in the institution, but are also attached to a parish for training.
The process through which Training Incumbents (TIs) are identified begins over a year ahead of a new Curate’s ordination and deployment. In the February of each year, Incumbents are invited to register their interest in receiving a Curate the following July (i.e. 16 months later). The Titles Group will consider all applications and make decisions about where to place curates in order to secure the best training outcome for those due to be ordained. A matching process follows over the summer months.
In matching Title Posts, we follow guidance from the national Ministry Team in the selection of TIs, which emphasises that their careful selection is vital and should be evidence-based and rooted in an Incumbent’s ability to train rather than on their need for assistance.
The Titles Group are looking for TIs who can confirm and demonstrate that they have:
• their own consistent pattern of personal prayer and study
•a commitment to and participation in their own continuing ministerial development
• collaborative skills
• the ability to enable reflection on practice and theology.
The form to register an Incumbent’s interest, therefore, asks for evidence of the Incumbent’s:
• spiritual life and reading
• understanding of supervision
• experience in enabling the ministry of others
• understanding that a Curate is a colleague in whose nurturing the TI is sharing, not a junior assistant who will serve as ‘their Curate’.
Given the increased financial pressures on church finances, it is also essential that potential TIs have realistic discussions with PCCs about what is involved and can demonstrate that the costs of housing a stipendiary Curate are achievable.
In line with the goals of Transforming Church, Transforming Lives, the Titles Group especially encourage Incumbents with a vision for pioneering mission to apply (for example, those seeking to establish new worshipping communities), together with those ministering in areas of social deprivation. The Titles Group also encourage applications from first time TIs and those from under-represented groups.
It is currently the expectation that a parish has at least one year fallow between stipendiary curacies (with no guarantee that the gap may not be longer than this).
Once a short-list of suitable parishes / Training Incumbents has been drawn up from those registering an interest, the matching process begins, seeking to ensure a best fit between ordinand and parish, in terms of training needs, church tradition and personality.
Potential Curates (and their families) will be invited to visit a parish, with both parties invited to consider if they feel a good match has been made. Should the first match not be successful, there is no automatic guarantee that another will be possible, but the Titles Group will do all it can to find appropriate Title Posts for as many of its stipendiary Curates as possible.
As the curacy begins, the Bishop will be looking for:
• a clear, comprehensive Working Agreement which will be agreed by the IME 2 Officer or DDO
• 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 as set out in the Curate Housing Policy for those in stipendiary ministry
•an unambiguous commitment to the IME 4-7 programme and to training incumbent sessions
For the first three to four years of ordained ministry, a deacon/priest continues in mandatory Initial Ministerial Education (IME Phase 2, also known as IME years 4 to 7). Incorporated into IME is a pattern of reflection, review and appraisal designed to establish Curates in a healthy pattern of continuing supervision, training and development.
In IME 4 this review forms the basis of the interview with the Bishop prior to priesting and at the end of Curacy with the Archdeacon 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 assessment 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
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.
Around three months before the end of curacy, all Curates’ portfolios are assessed, and further evidence of formation gathered from the Training Incumbent, churchwardens and IME tutors. Self-supporting Curates will have an interview with the Archdeacon to consider their future deployment.
It is the Curate's responsibility to ensure that they have made provision for their next role, stipend and housing, though diocesan officers will do everything they can to help.
A stipendiary Curate who has not been appointed to a new post by the end of their licence may be given Permission to Officiate (PTO) for a period of three months (renewable once) and will need to renegotiate housing provision with the parish.
However, their stipend (and any other financial support) will cease on the date noted in the Statement of Particulars and cannot be extended.
Stipendiary Curates may not apply for the next post until they have received a letter of completion from the Bishop and must advise the DDO and Archdeacon of all applications they make.