Those of you who follow me on twitter will have seen my upset, anger and disappointment at the news that the Diocese of Oxford have made redundant the post of "Diocesan advisor for LLMs".
My first emotion was shock. Shock that the wonderful lay minister Sheila Lloyd would be made redundant from her post when she has spent the last 2 years regenerating the ministry and community of lay ministers in Oxford diocese.
I quickly moved to anger. Anger that the diocese should let down it's LLMs by no longer employing anyone to be their advocate, support and leader. Anger that the diocese doesn't seem to value lay ministry if it can leave us high and dry in this way. Anger that this decision has and will continue to cause so much pain for individuals.
Being a practical person my third response was action. I tweeted quite emotionally to +Alan (Bishop of Buckinghamshire). I wrote an email to +Colin (Bishop of Dorchester who now becomes the warden of readers) and +John (Bishop of Oxford) explaining how I felt about the decision. I rang my archdeaconry advisor for LLMs and we had a long discussion about how upset we both are. I spoke to my vicar about how Christian I felt about the whole situation.
Fourthly, finally (about time) you might say, I prayed on the situation. This was inordinately difficult. I felt so let down by the organisation of the church, so distanced from the ministry I feel so called to, so abandoned. But God is good, God is love, God came through, God held me tight and reassured and brought me back to His calling on my life.
Fifthly the church itself reached out to me. +Alan tweeted me a number of times showing true care, compassion and understanding. +Colin emailed me almost immediately in an extremely affirming way and invited me to meet with him in the spring to discuss LLM ministry. And I was reminded by many amazing vicars and laiety how the focus of my ministry is all about the local and that doesn't change.
It has been quite some 48hours, a real rollercoaster. This issue is in no way concluded, I still feel the diocesan decision is wrong, but I feel more able to cope with it positively. For example, I am now part of a team setting up a website for Oxford LLMs which should help us support each other as peers.
This is a time of change, it's not nice but if nothing else it has brought me closer to understanding those in the community who are suffering the same experiences of redundancy and change. In time we will look back and see how we grew through this, but for now we will middle through with our emotions, our concerns and our faith.