|Publication Date: 16 Apr 2015|
|Publisher: SPCK Publishing|
|Page Count: 160|
|Author: Matthew Caminer|
|ISBN-13: 9780281073436, 9780281073443|
Curacies and How to Survive Them
I wish this book had been available when I was a curate, training incumbent and Director of Ordinands. Its lively, conversational style makes it compellingly readable, and a combination of experience, research and pastoral wisdom results in plenty of practical insight and realistic advice. I warmly commend it not only to curates but also to anyone who has any kind of contact with them.
This book is well presented; an accessible and useful resource aimed at three groups of people: curates, training incumbents and Diocesan Directors of Ordinands.
The book’s title I initially found quite negative; it ruffled my feathers because it seemed to imply that all curacies are something to be endured and survived. As a third year curate, I have had a positive experience which has allowed me to flourish and thrive in ministry. I know many of my colleagues would say the same. For many of us the issues covered in this book are not a reality – thank God. However, I have heard about many quite dreadful situations, where curacies have imploded, with both the curate and the training incumbent at fault.
The book’s structure is novel and can be dipped in and out of. Each chapter considers a case study; a situation of conflict or abuse, misuse of power or a significant problem that had arisen in a training situation. This is followed by a three way conversation between a psychologist, theologian and management consultant.
This approach prevents a cold, clinical review and allows instead for three humans to discuss what happens to other humans in a warm and relational manner. It is clear that the book has been well researched. The authors have considerable experience of difficult situations and have conducted many interviews with curates, training incumbents and DDOs to uncover and establish some of the key problems which may affect and even destroy curacies. The authors are careful to create fake situations and characters, in order to protect the real situations and people involved. Each chapter ends with advice on ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ should a curate or training incumbent find themselves in similar circumstances.
The book is clearly seeking to develop positive behaviours in both curates and training incumbents which will promote growth and development. The book’s aim is to raise awareness, and provide a context in which, should problems arise, communication is kept open, issues are confronted, support is given and expectations for all concerned are realistic and manageable.
Although the situations described in this book may (hopefully) never affect a curate or training incumbent, it has value to both as a pre-read before any new training situation. After all, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
This title might suggest that there would be little interest in this work from the Church of Scotland: curacies belong firmly within the Anglican tradition of Christianity. Curates are, however, assistants to vicars and priests and there are obvious similar roles in other faith traditions.
The heart of this book centres around relationships and problem-solving in a people-centred faith environment, meaning that there are tips and potential lessons for all involved in training and leadership roles within any Christian context.
Based on real life accounts and experience, but retold through the eyes of a psychologist, theologian and management consultant, the book touches on familiar issues and situations that can result in conflict and discomfort not only for curates but for those leading them. The situations highlighted include working agreements, bullying, emotional blackmail and following rules, offering tips and resources in not only tackling specific issues and problems but in trying to prevent them arising in the first place.
There are seeds of wisdom that can be gleaned from some of the issues raised in this book that would be equally relevant in any Christian denomination.