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elliha

Become a minister?

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elliha

For a long time various people have told me that I would make a good minister/priest. I have always laughed it off and sincerely told them that I have no such wish and that an outer calling is not enough. And this was the truth, for most of my life I have not had even a small calling to go down that route but now for about six months I have started to feel that maybe this is not as outlandish as it once seemed. I would not say that I long to be a priest but I think that god would not be disatisfied with me making this decision. 

I belong to a very liberal Lutheran church that obviously allows for priests of all sexes but it is not as easy as just studying theology and ask to be hired. To become one I would first need to be officially confirmed. I was not a believer for most of my teen years so I didn't do this then when it is more often done in my church. I might be able to find a priest that is willing to let me do the ceremony without having to take a lot of classes since I am quite knowledgeble about the faith of my church but if they insist on classes I think it will take about 6 months. I would also try to see if I can get myself more involved in church too as I have read that to be accepted as a candidate to become a priest such things are a merit and I would not dislike doing that.

If I am going to do it I will have to get myself enrolled in the theological program at the university and study a lot. I most likely would need to get another 6-8 semesters at the university so it is not a small thing I would embark on. I have a job so it would have to be all at distance too. I think you understand why one part of me is screaming "crazy crazy" right now. During this time I would also have to try to complete a number of weeks of work training with the church as well as some other church courses and somewhere in there also ask for the bishop's permission to become a candidate. If he/she says no I am fucked for 5 years since I cannot ask for ordination for another 5 years if rejected. If I complete all of this I still would have another year of school where I would have to be away from my family quite a lot before I could be ordained. I would not be a Jeremy-style minister as you can see, it is a life changing commitment if I take the plunge. 

My current plan is:

1. Confirmation and a talk with a priest or deacon

2. Enroll in the religious program at the university and try to study and keep a full time or near full time job. 

If I after having tried it out for a semester or two still feel the same way I will go forward with an application to the bishop. If I have changed my mind by then I can still add another subject to my teacher's certificate so I would not be wasting my time. If I would get accepted as a candidate I would then have 8 years to complete my remaining studies and be ordained. 

I don't know where to begin talking about this so this is why I start here. Any thoughts or support is welcomed. If you do not believe in women as priest please shut up about that particular view I am not interested in discussing this in this thread at least. Questions are allowed too.

I am overwelmed by this and perhaps I haven't been too elegant in my writing and perhaps I have left out some important detail but be kind, if this will happen my whole life would change as this is not just a job but a life-long committment.

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browncoatslytherin

if this is something you really want to do, i say do it. you seem to have given this a fair bit of thought already, and you have a plan outlined to achieve it. you've also given yourself a couple of "outs" if you decide it's not for you, and as you say, it's something to add to your teaching resume if you take the courses and decide not to do it. so, i don't see how you could really lose.

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elliha

Today I went to church and they said they were looking for people to become hosts at church (they help the minister to do readings, greet people and so on. When you are more experienced you may help the minister at communion too. I will send one of the ministers an e-mail tonight about this and also bring up the fact that I lack an official confirmation and that I would like to arrange that. I guess this will be my starting point.

 

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elliha

I will officially be a church host the 2nd or 3rd Sunday of Advent. I will start confirmation classes sometime in January.

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Happy
Gobbles

No idea how it is in Sweden, but in Germany studying theology is considered extremely hard work. So studying while working full time is difficult if not impossible here. (Not sure if you can study that part time or even via long distance or not. Germany is pretty outdated if it comes to technology.)

I read a bit about the Church of Sweden because of my interest in Scandinavian countries and with that knowledge I, as an atheist, would say go for it! Heck there are even some priests who say the the evolution is completely valid and exists next to a God if I remember it right. And all the gay priests in very high positions. 

Call me crazy, but even if I'm 100% sure that there is not God, I sometimes want to believe because it does make some things easier. Believing in heaven for example. And I do have very traditional, Christian values. (In a liberal German/European kind of way.) The whole psychological side of believing in something is very appealing to me. 

 

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elliha

The hard thing will be the first year when it comes to studies is if I am going to apply to the program at my university that gives me guaranteed seats in later courses because then I must study full time for the whole first year and I would need to work at least 75% to be able to support my family too. I have a flexible job so it is technically possible but very hard of course. I can take all courses at distance and that is why it is even theoretically possible. When that year has passed I can take courses at 50% which means I could probably work full time and study 50%. I might be able to take the first year's courses as independent courses but then I would not be guaranteed seats in later courses. This might still be more reasonable and perhaps I could persuade the university to transfer me to the program but I am not sure they can. The first year would contain at least one bible course but would not be full on heavy theology. It could be a number of different courses including courses about other religions. When I would move into the more heavy theology and bibilical language courses it will be really tough but I think still doable. The biblical language courses, the official acceptance by the bishop and the last year when I have to study away from home are the huge obsticles. 

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Ali

@elliha One thing you could do right now to prepare for the Bible courses is to read through the parts of the Bible you are not very familiar with. 

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chaotic life

Preacher’s kid here. Most mainline seminaries in the US have student pastoral positions that allow you to work and attend seminary and gets your practical hours met. However, most seminary trained ministers have to take on student loan debt simply to get through seminary. (Dad let his ordination expire when he became a sociology of religion professor.)

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elliha
3 hours ago, chaotic life said:

Preacher’s kid here. Most mainline seminaries in the US have student pastoral positions that allow you to work and attend seminary and gets your practical hours met. However, most seminary trained ministers have to take on student loan debt simply to get through seminary. (Dad let his ordination expire when he became a sociology of religion professor.)

I can take student loans for some of the time if necessary but I would have to save that for later. Thankfully tuition is free so that is not a concern. Part of why I "have to" work is also that we come from a long history of my husband being unemployed for parts of the year and I need the security of a job if that would happen again. If I go on this path and my husband would be more secure in that respect I might be able to work much less or ask for leave. 

7 hours ago, Ali said:

@elliha One thing you could do right now to prepare for the Bible courses is to read through the parts of the Bible you are not very familiar with. 

That's a good tip! That is necessary for all kinds of reasons if I am going to do this. 

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elliha

Yesterday I went to my first church host meeting. They seem a nice bunch but it is only me and one other guy that is below retirement age. We are also only two women. One of the priest said she would interview one more woman soon though so perhas we will be three. On December 10 I will be officially greeted as a host in church. The subject of the Mass will be "Save us from patriarchy" and will be held by one of the more prominent feminist theologians out of the priests in our church. I thought that would be interesting given the content of this page.

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Happy
Gobbles
19 hours ago, elliha said:

Yesterday I went to my first church host meeting. They seem a nice bunch but it is only me and one other guy that is below retirement age. We are also only two women. One of the priest said she would interview one more woman soon though so perhas we will be three. On December 10 I will be officially greeted as a host in church. The subject of the Mass will be "Save us from patriarchy" and will be held by one of the more prominent feminist theologians out of the priests in our church. I thought that would be interesting given the content of this page.

So, will you ever interact with Antje Jackelén in the near future or is she "too" famous? (You probably know that she is German.) How about Åke Bonnier or Eva Brunne? 

I promise I'm not a weirdo. Haha! I have my knowledge due to following the Swedish Royals and after watching several weddings and christenings I'm familiar with the more prominent priests in Sweden. Also like I said before, I have read a lot about it all.

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elliha
48 minutes ago, Gobbles said:

So, will you ever interact with Antje Jackelén in the near future or is she "too" famous? (You probably know that she is German.) How about Åke Bonnier or Eva Brunne? 

I promise I'm not a weirdo. Haha! I have my knowledge due to following the Swedish Royals and after watching several weddings and christenings I'm familiar with the more prominent priests in Sweden. Also like I said before, I have read a lot about it all.

Not likely. The most famous priest I might meet up with is Lisa Tegby. I have had a quick chat once with former arch bishop KG Hammar, he was no longer an arch bishop at that time. He is a bit of a favorite of mine. He was controversial and also a person who liked to piss people off and give journalists opportunity to find quotes that they found sensational. In my eyes he is very much a mystic that was often misunderstood because people really didn't think about what he said in mystical terms. I think that in part why he became so controversial was that almost childish streak of his to say things that he knew people would either misinterpret or make people mad. 

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elliha

@Gobbles by the way, a colleague and I watched some of Prince Gabriel's baptism today. We laughed at Chris O'Neill's bored face and looked at a distant relative of my colleague who was there. She is somehow connected to the mother of the baby, I don't remember how. 

Edited by elliha

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elliha

So today was the first day as a church host/church warden. It turned out well and I only made a couple of small mistakes like almost walking away before the priest had blessed the offerings and having to make a control count that I really had lit all the candles for baptised members and I had missed one but he/she got their candle after the reading. I was also given the "honor" of carrying the crucifix into the church. Why? The other warden appearently hate carrying it. I was fine, I have been a scout and carried flags here and there and carrying a crucifix was pretty much the same. The scary thing is that you lead the procession in and out but carrying the crucifix was fine. I also lit the second Advent candle and handed out a second hymn book. The regular ones are in a pocket in the pews. I was given my own hymn book by the congregation too. I own one but this is a more fancy one.

My children did reasonably well in church but I think that my daughter who likes attention was not fully happy with me being in front of everyone like that, I think she wanted more attention than me. She will get over it. My son ran himself tired and his dad managed to make him sleep. 

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elliha

Small update: I am not moving at a high speed but I am still a church warden and I have started an online course about world religions which I will be able to count towards the academic requirements to become a minister. So far the course is quite interesting but I have only studied about 2 weeks yet. I wanted to start a course about Jewish texts too but had to skip that due to lack of time. I will try next term to get into a bible course or other more Christian courses one is expected to have studied some courses about other religions too so I am not taking a detour.

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elliha

I want to update people a little. I am still a church warden, I am now confirmed within my church and I am working on my prayer life. I did not end up finishing the course I started and I have not applied again this autumn. I am contemplating contacting my church to discuss the fact that I have a calling towards the church. I am very scared to do so and I am not sure if I will be able to but I do feel that I may soon have to at least discuss this. I am also considering involving myself in a group that are leading lay-services to further see if this is for me and if this may actually be enough for me. I am also considering taking a course with the church that is open for people who may want to work in the church but since this will be hard to combine with my current job it may not be possible. My current thinking is that I should apply for it but make a decision later when I know if I have been accepted or not. 

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