This year is the first year I am eligible to apply for full connection as an Elder. I don't have to apply this year simply because I'm eligible, but I like doing things according to plan and it would be nice to get this whole ordination business (namely the papers) out of the way. Knowing that taking a move will be hectic and crazy in and of itself, I thought seeing the ordination questions ahead of time would give me a jump start and help me get my head in the game without being completely overwhelmed and consumed come summer.
I called around to make sure it was okay that I saw a copy of last year's questions and got the go-ahead, so I called a friend and asked her for a copy. They arrived yesterday. This morning I've spent a fair amount of time typing them into the computer so I can brainstorm when there's time.
Let's just say it makes my head spin. I'd forgotten the anguish of having all these questions looming overhead, and the pure joy at NOT having to deal with them. That in and of itself makes me want to take another year before writing. But, at the same time, it also makes me want to hurry up and get them out of the way. There are a number of doubts I have.
#1 The board is notorious for not passing people the first time through. So, do I really want to write 75 pages and do that much work only to be deferred?
#2 With their reputation, would waiting the year really make a difference, or will I get deferred whenever I go up, so I might as well get deferred this year so I can make it through for 2010?
#3 The majority of the questions focus on experience as a probationary member, not just academic thought, and I wonder if a transition year is really the best year to write papers. I mean, am I going to get there and simply hear, "You know Deb, you just haven't been there long enough for us to see what you're actually capable of."??
The next one is not a doubt, it's more of a complaint. A lot of these questions are VERY specific, or at least they are looking for very specific things, and it would have been nice to know these things, oh, say, 2 years ago when I started out. I mean, I got feedback after my probationary interview: "Grow in your strengths. We affirm X, Y, and Z about your call to ministry. Work on being more open to a diversity of theological perspectives in all areas of ministry." That's about all I got. Fairly vague really, except for the perspectives piece. But what they want in the papers is not so vague. They want SO much.
I guess I'm just overwhelmed right now. It's been a couple of years since I had to write something other than a sermon, meditation, prayer, liturgy, letter, eulogy, or Bible study (oh yeah, or a blog entry). I'll take some time to let the questions sink in and to pray about all of this and to see if this is really the year God would have me press forward with this madness.