To those seeking helpful advice and clear thinking about the journey to ordination and the day-to-day realities of parish ministry, this guide is of inestimable value.
'As a curate of only 20 months I can sincerely say that I wish The Curate's Guide had been around several years ago as I was making my journey from calling to first parish! And don't be misled by the title - this guide would enhance the understanding of anyone involved with church life and should be required reading for ordinands, incumbents, DDOs, theological college staff and parishioners as well as curates and their families. It was like reading my own thoughts from emerging calling to present day curacy captured with refreshing honesty and uncanny accuracy, and so it served as a wonderful tool for reflection, taking stock and looking forward. John Witcombe and his team undoubtedly write with many years experience and yet their observations are as fresh and apposite as ever, and though there are many contributors, The Curate's Guide very much speaks with one voice.The Curate's Guide covers a great deal of ground - at the most basic level it sets out facts about the process of discernment, selection, training, choosing a parish, CME and beyond including such nitty-gritty areas as terminology and dress (all those things I wish I'd known earlier from one source rather than stumbling across them piecemeal!), and it achieves all that with a balanced and sensitive appreciation of varying churchmanship or diocesan approach. Its real value, I feel, lies in the fact that it goes far beyond the parameters of the average 'guide' to explore important and perennial questions about relationships, expectations, identity. It challenges a number of prejudices surrounding training (part-time or residential) or status (NSM, OLM, etc). It brings home the applied reality of what it says with its imaginative use of character studies/scenarios. It is strangely compelling and gets under the skin. The Curate's Guide inspires a positive and encouraging view of what happens when we respond to God's call. There is nothing prescriptive in it; it does not seek to create stereotype curates. Rather it recognises and appreciates the uniqueness of every response to God's calling and offers practical advice and wise words for a wholesome response to that call. No one should leave training without reading it.'