As a diocese, encouraging and equipping ordained clergyin their ministries is paramount in fulfilling the diocesan values and priorities.
In addition, providing appropriate support and pastoral care also helps clergy in their professional and personal lives, especially when that help can sustain them through the 'ups' and 'downs' of church leadership. Sometimes this support appears in the lessobviousplaces, as Dan Jones writes
Life to the Max
is aweekend away for clergy kids aged from 11- to 18-years-old which I organise every year in partnership with the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Now in its 15th year, LTTM isaspace for young people to get away, relax, meet other young people in similar situations to themselves and have a great time.
Every year, the young peoples feedback reminds Tony and I of how important LTTM is to the them and every year, the parents say 'thank you' for theobvious reasons - a teen-free home for starters!
However, what Tony and I value most is that their gratitude is much deeper rooted than simply offering parents childcare for the weekend:
"My girls enjoy LTTM for various reasons, It's an environment where they are not in the minority of one, e.g. at school where here are very few Christians let alone clergy children. They are affirmed for who they are, and they get to see that the Church/diocese value what their parent does for a living. They get to meet other young people who are normal, like them, but who understand the language of vicarage life. They like spending time in a group of people who don't think their dad is a weirdo because he's a vicar!! The principle value is that they experience being taken seriously" - Rev David Lloyd
As a family it says to us that our children are valued, My wife and I know they will have a good time, be well cared for, taken seriously as young Christians and make friends.
"LTTM provided a chance for space for both the children and parents for a weekend. It enabled us to spend quality time together away from the children on the Friday evening and Saturday - which was an awesome break after the intensity of the summer holidays. It was also energising ministry-wise as it felt like an opportunity to break the routines and rest (and with careful service planning, I got some extra sleep too). When we were back together on the Sunday we were really excited to see each other - absence made the heart grow fonder!" - Rev Phil Bradley
LTTM has really shown my boys that there is more to the Diocese than simply being a part of their Dad's church, and that the Diocese cares for its clergy families. It is a blessing for them to be able to meet others in a similar position family-wise that understands and can share experiences - not something they can do at school or with friends.
"My children felt valued by being given the opportunity to go, in recognition that they often have to walk to a different drumbeat to their friends who are not Christians, and not in clergy families. They appreciated meeting other children from similar backgrounds and loved St Georges House and the activities they were enabled to do. The staff were brilliant and also enjoyed getting to know them" -- Rev Sally Wheeler
I would recommend this to my colleagues as it takes the children away from the hothouse of the Vicarage; it makes them feel special and gives them space to let off steam, both physically through the activities and verbally about any stresses they face through the staff that look after them
If you have any questions or would like more details fornext year's
Life to the Max
(15 to 17 September 2017) please contact Dan Jones, Youth and Children's Adviser, on 0117 906 0100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.