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Where the rubber hits the dirt track: Ordained Local Ministry in the parish.
The traditional model of ministry in the Anglican Church has been based on the English parish model. However, change, especially demographic change, has meant many rural parishes cannot afford to pay for stipendiary clergy. One strategy which has been adopted in some dioceses is ordaining self-funded local people as priests to serve in their own community. This has been given different names, including Ordained Local Ministry (OLM).
The Anglican Church has conducted some research to evaluate OLM, but it has not addressed the issues from the perspective of the parishes concerned, or from that of the key stakeholders.
My research project addresses OLM from the local perspective as the role of the parish is crucial to OLM. Using Oral History, I will be asking parishioners in two rural parishes their perceptions of OLM, the reality of the experience, changes in relationships, diocesan support, parish support, and general assessment.
My intention is to provide a summary of the material for the relevant bishops in order that the parish perspectives of OLM might provide a wider range of resources and perspectives for future diocesan decisions regarding OLM.
I had completed a Grad Dip Th., M Th. And M Min. through Charles Sturt. I was familiar with Charles Sturt's processes and I had met a number of the staff. As my studies must be through Distance Education, I needed a university that catered to Distance Education students – which Charles Sturt does. The campus in Canberra, St Mark’s, is also relatively geographically accessible.