I've been a bit quiet the last week, not because I've had nothing to say, but because we hit our monthly cap on the ADSL line, rendering us "internet-less" for about four days.
In the meantime, plenty has been happening. The Bishops of the Connexion met about 10 days ago in East London to discuss stationing for 2010, but to my extreme dismay nothing has been decided concerning the Phase Ones - in particular those of us who are trying to make a case for remaining in Circuit next year.
At this stage there are "whisperings" that I may end up going to SMMS (the Methodist seminary in Pietermaritzburg) next year after all, but once again no-one is prepared to commit to a final decision until Conference meets in September.
While I need to respect the processes and procedures of our church, once again it seems that bureaucracy takes precedence over people. To those who do not have children of school-going age, finding a school may seem to be a trivial matter, but to those of us with kids - especially since many (if not most) of the schools have already closed their applications for 2010 - it is a major concern indeed.
Spare too a thought for a fellow Phase One whose husband and children are currently in Johannesburg, having to make a decision to relocate. How is he supposed to even START looking for employment when he doesn't even know which city or town his wife is going to be posted to next year?
As I have stated to various people (including the "powers that be") on numerous occasions, the issue is not about where the Church plans to send us, personal preferences notwithstanding. We did, after all, promise before Synod that we will go to whichever Circuit we are sent. The issue is rather to do with the process, the lack of consultation (at least with us), and the seemingly dogged determination on the part of the Church to follow "the process" with little apparent regard for the people involved.
The fact that large numbers of ministers - including those who are ordained - continue to be stationed in situations where it is difficult for their families to join them, must surely also be of concern. I'm aware that this issue was raised at Conference last year, but it doesn't seem to have translated into any tangible action on the ground.
So what keeps us going under such circumstances? A good friend told me that to go into full-time ministry, one must either be insane, or called by God. Since I don't believe that I've gone insane yet - although I've come close at times - I have to believe that God has indeed called me to serve Him in a full-time ministry capacity.
I also still believe that the rightful place for me to serve God is within the MCSA, and I would never do anything to purposefully hurt or malign the institution. Indeed, at local church level I have received nothing but support and encouragement for my fledgeling ministry, for which I am extremely appreciative and grateful. The local Circuit in fact shares my frustration at the fact that decisions appear not to be forthcoming from the higher echelons, since give that the Phase One programme comes to an end at the end of 2009, they too need to make some decisions concerning the work of ministry next year.
On a personal level, I'm still mulling over how to take this matter further, since it is an issue that is for bigger than me (or even my home Circuit, for that matter) - it is an issue that has had a major impact on the family life of too many ministers, and one that has gone on for way too long.
In the meantime I need to continue to trust that God will make the best of whatever the final outcome may be.
"Though darkness deepens, Lord with me abide..." (from "Abide with Me" - see previous posts)
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