To BAP, BAPing, I BAPed – encountering the verb of selection for ordination!

Since announcing on Easter morning that I have been recommended for training for ordination, I have been meaning to explain a little of what happens at a Bishop’s Advisory Panel… known by it’s acronym of “BAP”.

Conversations suggest that this has become a verb. You spend months anticipating and planning “to BAP”. You then arrive for this two-day selection conference to discover you are “BAPping” and when you hit recovery mode, you “have BAPed”.

You only get to BAP if you have been recommended to do so by a panel of selectors in your own Diocese following, probably years, working with a Diocesan Director of Ordinands, and hopefully a spiritual director and other advisors, to discern whether God is calling you to ordination.

The BAP itself includes all those things outlined here, by the Ministry Division of the Church of England. But if you’re going to BAP, you’re probably wondering… what is it REALLY like, beyond all the assessments and interviews the paperwork outlines?

I found this post ‘So you’re going to a BAP’ by Liza Clutterbuck a really helpful place to start! [When I’d written this post I discovered Emma Goldby also makes a very helpful point here about your relationship with God being key to how you approach a BAP. Then Briony BAPed at Shallowford and her detailed reflections are here.]

Bishop Woodford House, Ely (it’s the low building that lies behind the Diocesan Offices through the double gate)

I BAPed at Bishop Woodford House, the Diocesan Retreat Centre of the Diocese of Ely. (The other regular venue is Shallowford.) I travelled by train and would thoroughly recommend this. The selectors themselves encourage you to take extra-great care of yourself if you drive home, as you are more mentally tired than perhaps you should be for a long drive. The only downside of train-travel is crossing London from Kings Cross to wherever during the rush hour as I did on the way home… I loath the Tube at the best of times… but I wouldn’t have wanted to drive (especially via the M25 at the same time of day!)

Bishop Woodford House is almost in the centre of Ely (you turn left when you get to the roundabout at the top of the hill), close to Kings School (which appears to have taken over many of the buildings around Ely Cathedral and has the new buildings behind the house, which many rooms look out over.)

Ely Cathedral from the park benches to the south

If you’re BAPing at Bishop Woodford House it’s well worth getting there at lunch-time and taking the time to go round the stunning Cathedral before proceedings start at 4pm-ish. As you will read in my sermon illustrations here my visit on a stunning spring day, had a profound effect on me. If you say you are attending a BAP at the Diocesan Retreat Centre the Cathedral staff will let you in for free! Take a small camera, as you see, it’s worth while!

The lovely managers at Bishop Woodford House let you drop your bags there even if your room isn’t ready, and will offer you a hot drink, before you go exploring the Cathedral. If you have a picnic with you, the open parkland through the arch to the south of the Cathedral (the footpath is marked to the riverside I think) has some benches and lovely views, but the Cathedral also has a Refectory.

I have to say that although I found my BAP tiring, I actually really enjoyed it. I’d encourage others to go with that aim in mind. It’s wonderful to meet new people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, and of different ages and traditions. The regular worship gives the event a rhythm and spiritual space to receive from God, which is a good counterpoint to ‘giving out’ of yourself A LOT by way of written and aural conversation with the selectors. The two ‘sermons/reflections’ we were given by two of the selectors during the event, were brilliantly tailored to feed us, emotionally and spiritually.

You have to be aware that the selectors (three to each panel of eight candidates) will be asking as many unspoken questions of you during meal-times, as they do in interview. This could make meals a slightly edgy affair as you are meant to circulate around the different tables through the course of the conference (the selectors stay in the same seats each meal), but to be honest, it was just fun getting to know a bit about them, their ministries and hobbies, as well as your fellow candidates. The food is plentiful and lovely.

Many people suggested to me that it is good to make sure you have a drink at the (self-service) bar, as selectors like to see how you relate to fellow candidates (though they didn’t seem to use it themselves, so I’m not sure how!) I had a soft drink the first night, but departed early to my very comfortable room. It was good to have time to phone home and talk to the family, and get an early night – I didn’t look at the Pastoral Exercise that night, just made best use of the peace and quiet.

The presentations and discussions on the Tuesday morning are probably the most demanding part of the event – at least I found that to be the case. Yet, it was the candidates that made it that way; we all got so interested in what each other was presenting that discussions, though timed-out by selectors, were re-started and continued at all the break points during the morning.

Once you get into the pattern of interviews, there is plenty of time to prepare your Pastoral Exercise in between whiles and into the evening, as the interviews were well spaced. The second evening I focused on completing the exercise (which can be done electronically and printed out on site if you have a laptop and peg-drive with you) and didn’t use the bar. There weren’t tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms, but it was easily accessible at all times of day and night.

The East end of Ely Cathedral viewed from the Almonry garden! I wish I could photograph the sound of the bees in the cherry blossom!

Making the effort to complete the Pastoral Exercise the second night, gave me copious freedom to rest between interviews the last day. Still blessed by brilliant spring sunshine, I took the chance through the late morning, to explore of the Cathedral Close, and can recommend the small garden at the Almonry Restaurant which appeared to be open for visitors to wander around.

Although once the BAP is finished you will probably be keen to return home, don’t feel you have to rush if you don’t have to; if you’re travelling a long distance, or have connections to flights (there were candidates from France and Italy on my panel) then make sure you allow plenty of time before you need to check in for planes.

Lastly, how much you feel you should make or are making friends with fellow candidates is a tricky one to judge, but I found it happened naturally – God seemed to have this in control as much as everything else! I had met one fellow candidate at my pre-BAP retreat & we had rapidly become Facebook friends! Though ‘accidental’ this meant there was at least one familiar face when we all gathered for tea the first afternoon. Four of us caught the same train home (at least as far as Kings Cross). This journey, marked by slight hysteria and long periods of silence as we wound down, added one further person to my network of friends (this time on Twitter). It has since transpired that we three were all recommended for selection, since when a fourth of our number has found me on Facebook – another recommended candidate! I think that if any of us thus connected had not been successful, we were all mature enough to have been pleased for those that did, and sought to encourage those that weren’t. At least I hope so.

So, that about rounds up my reflections on the actual process of a BAP. If you’ve been through the process yourself, and want to offer your own reflections (especially from experiences of Shallowford) please feel free to comment.

If you’ve read this anticipating your own BAP, know that God is with you, and that his will, WILL be done.

Advertisements

About ramtopsrac

Church of England Priest, child of God, daughter of the New Forest, wife and mother.
This entry was posted in ministry, resources, theology - how God fits in and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to To BAP, BAPing, I BAPed – encountering the verb of selection for ordination!

  1. revpamsmith says:

    That’s really interesting Rachel, thank you.

    it’s now just under 10 years since I was on my conference. When I first started exploring they were known as ACM. This changed to ABM while I was undergoing what turned out to be a very lengthy vocational discernment process in the Diocese with a gap for training as a Reader. And by the time I went to a conference they’d recently been renamed MinDiv’s!

    It sounds as if the essentials haven’t changed much, I remember how much I enjoyed the times talking to other candidates and finding out what had brought them to this point. Conferences were held all over the place in those days and mine was at Old (?) Alresford, where the Mothers Union was founded. The selectors tried to encourage us to go to the pub in the village but nobody wanted to and we sat outside the house with our drinks as dusk turned to darkness, talking and occasionally breaking off to listen for owls and spot the bats flying around. It felt quite magical.

    This was pre facebook so i haven’t kept in touch with anyone, but have followed some careers through the Church Times announcements column. Someone did very efficiently set up a system for us telling the group how we had done. Eventually I heard that 13 out of the 16, including me, had been recommended, one told us that he had not been recommended and I assume the 2 who never emailed weren’t either.

    It was a good experience and I felt very much at peace as I left – I didn’t feel any certainty about the outcome but I felt I could trust it to be fair.

  2. Congratulations! It’s a funny time, this gap between BAP result & starting training. Hope it all goes really smoothly.
    I’m glad you found my post useful & thanks for sharing it with others. It’s great to share experiences, I think it really helps to prepare people.
    Every blessing, Liz

  3. Emma says:

    Thanks for referencing my blog! If only i had found Liz Clutterbuck’s blog before going to BAP. Some good advice here that rings true to my own experiences!

  4. Pingback: What’s it like to go to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP)? « Bryony's Blog

  5. Simon Heron says:

    I bought a large box of chocolates from a most excellent chocolate shop in Ely whilst at my BAP. I still have a vague suspicion that my recommendation for training was because of the quality of the confectionery rather than anything I said or did.

  6. Pingback: What’s it like to go to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP)? | Bryony Taylor

  7. Hi Rachel! Hope all is going well…
    I’ve just re-launched my site and as a result none of the links to specific posts are working. I wondered if you’d mind updating the link to my BAP post? I get quite a few visitors thanks to you, and I’d hate for people not to be able to find it. It’s now: http://www.lizclutterbuck.com/2012/01/so-youre-going-to-a-bap-2/
    Thanks!

    • ramtopsrac says:

      Hey happy to make the changes, glad you get traffic so hope you don’t mind reciprocating, and I love the new website and images Liz. It’s so sad to read in the comments on your post of those who feel damaged and rejected, not just by BAP saying ‘no’, but by the process itself. Particularly concerning are those who have been divorced and feel this is the reason BAP turned them down after lots of local encouragement. Yet I know several wonderful priests with divorces behind them, who have done fantastic work in a variety of contexts.

  8. Pingback: BAPtism: Attending a Bishops’ Advisory Panel | And Can It Be?

  9. Pingback: Preparing and Going to BAP | Following Jesus my King

  10. Pingback: So, what should I know about BAP? |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s