So I applied for a sabbatical scholarship. And said I’d blog about my eight weeks away. So I figure I ought to start practicing… Especially as the funding has fallen into place and I’m really going to have eight weeks away later in 2009.
My name’s Jemma Allen. I’m the ecumenical chaplain at the University of Waikato. I’m an Anglican priest by training, ordained for ten years now. The ex-ile community is the way I do church most often…
I’ve always had the sense that my vocation as a priest isn’t much to do with parish church. For me the eucharistic bread and wine belong in a picnic basket, outside the walls. I haven’t always known how to do or be that exactly and have had great experiences of being in parish church. But here at the University and with ex-ile and being involved in Stations of the Cross in the Hamilton Gardens I’m making sense of my vocation: as a person baptised and as a priest. Even though I hardly ever wear vestments and, except when I’m doing a locum at a nearby resthome, I don’t usually get to preside at the Eucharist in any traditional way… Which for a woman who tends towards the catholic end of the Anglican spectrum isn’t quite how I imagined it would be. But it’s good.
In August – October 2009 I’ll be taking up that sabbatical scholarship to think more about sacraments and models of ministy and ordination especially in relation to what gets called “fresh expressions” or “emerging church”.
And in the meantime there’s plenty of reading and thinking and ex-iling and chaplaining to be getting on with. And knitting. And dog-walking. A bit of perfecting the art of gluten-free brownie baking. Tomatoes and beans to be picking. Its a good life for sure!