For at least the past four years it has been my intention to write an article explaining to everyone exactly what an OLM (Ordained Local Minister) is: there are a number of misconceptions as to my role and my responsibilities, not to mention my future here at All Saints.
The whole “raison d’etre” of an OLM is that we are in and of the parish to which we belong – we are, and in most cases have been for a long time, very much a part of the local and the worshipping community, and that is where we will stay. OLM’s are called by God to ordained ministry from within the parish setting, and that is where we called to remain. We provide a strong element of stability in the parish setting where, because this is how it is, incumbents do come and go. Although I have been ordained for nearly five years now, during my time in Streetly since the early eighties I have seen four incumbents come and go, and we are of course about to welcome our fifth. So, please could I scotch the myth that I will, like Rachel, be moving on to my own parish: this is my parish, and this is where I stay!
Apart from the fact that I will never have the responsibility for my own parish, in every other respect, as an ordained priest in the Church of England, my priestly duties are the same as every other ordained priest: I am trained and legally entitled to take any service of worship here. The only slightly strange (to me) anomaly is that, officially speaking, I am only licensed to practice here at All Saints. In practicality that has not proven to be the case, because I have taken services at Manor Hospital, St Margaret’s Great Barr, Beacon Church, Pheasey, St Martin’s in Walsall, as well as my mother’s village Congregational chapel in Derbyshire!
2011 and 2012 are certainly proving to be years of big changes here at All Saints: being in interregnum is never an easy time, but if we look upon this period as a challenge to all of us to use and develop our various ministries, then much that is positive will have resulted. I personally have very much valued working with Rachel during the last fifteen months: we have, as no doubt most of you will have picked up on, worked very well together, shared responsibilities, and done our very best to keep All Saints on an even keel and functioning well. Rachel will, as I am sure you will all agree, make a brilliant parish priest: we will miss her terribly, but at the same time we wish her all the very best in her new life as Rector in pastures new.
Yes, the interregnum has been much longer than we all anticipated, but the end is nigh, as the saying goes, and we look forward very much to welcoming Mandy here on 9th September. No doubt we will give her and her family the kind of warm welcome we should expect from All Saints: meanwhile, as we journey through August and early September and countdown to Mandy’s induction into life here at All Saints, please keep her and her family, and of course Rachel, in your prayers, as we prepare to move forward into another exciting chapter in the life of this church.