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The View From a Student

ĎAND WHO ARE YOU?í This is a question I have heard many times in meetings during the last 9 months. So, to introduce myself, my name is Ben Clowes and I am a Foundation Training student doing my placement here at Marple with Chris. You may have seen me around in various meetings, sitting making copious notes and youíve probably been wondering what a preacher from Romiley is doing in meetings at Marple. Well I hope that this brief article helps; my prayer also in writing it is that it may challenge others to think of what their calling may be.

Within the Methodist Church those who feel called into some form of recognised ministry are asked to test their calling through Foundation Training. This is not, as many think, ministerial training; it is a step along the way to many forms of recognised ministry ó everything from the presbyteral/dicaonal ordained ministries through to the many strands of lay work. Foundation Training is open to all who feel a call and want to explore it. The training itself takes many forms although there are Ďstandardí elements - a vocational exploration element, a theological training element and a form of placement to tie the two other elements together.

In my case, the vocational and theological elements are being done at Hartley Victoria College within the Ecumenical Partnership for Theological Education at Luther King House in Manchester. For me, this takes the form of completing the first year of a University of Manchester recognised degree course over two years, doing this part time over twelve very chaotic weekends. The placement is supposed to give each student the opportunity to see close up the area of ministry to which they are feeling called. As I feel called into the presbyteral ministry, I have spent the last 9 months shadowing Chris. I have to say thank you to you all for allowing me to be part of Marpleís church life and for opening my eyes to see new ways that God works.

As you can see, my life is very full, especially trying to hold down a full time job and bring up a family but somehow God is providing me the time. Foundation Training may be under review at this yearís conference in Torquay but I have found it quite refreshing and challenging - although I reckon that Catherine and the boys are sick of hearing about my college work and unfortunately I have another year to go! So Iíll still be around at Marple, popping up in meetings until around June/July next year. However to add on to my already busy life Iíll be coming to terms with the candidating procedure. This will just add an extra layer of things to do.

Foundation training is an eye-opener to the multitudinous ways that Godís work is carried out by . the Church. As I have said before it is not exclusively for those who feel called into an ordained ministry. There are people on my course who are doing a special Community Work element. Even though the weekends are tough I have learnt a lot and had the time to explore my vocation more. If anyone feels that they are being called into any form of ministry then Foundation Training is a good place to test this out.

Ben Clowes

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