A letter to the Sydney Anglican newspaper:
Underneath this is an important goal – promoting the option of long-term assistant ministers. But the way to do it is not to pretend they don’t exercise a similar kind of spiritual role in the congregation to the rector, and therefore not ordain them as presbyters. Ironically, it could have precisely the opposite effect than the intended one, and make it less likely that people will remain long-term assistant ministers. This would be significant, since one of the reasons we Sydney Anglicans seem incapable of growing genuinely large churches (say, more than 1000 people) is that we struggle to keep long-term senior assistant ministers.
The Rev Andrew Katay
I personally am really enjoying being an assistant minister – I’m about to enter my 6th full-time year of it. Going into my third year at Holy Trinity, we are getting an MTS full time apprenticeship going, I’m running mission teams, doing lots of training of parents and marriage preparation, supervising and supporting other staff and generally lots of training and bible teaching. I wouldn’t get to do all this if I had the administrative and other acute pressures of being the senior pastor – especially a senior pastor in a small church (who deserve medals).
I also really love working in a great team, under a great senior pastor, and following and supporting him in his vision. It is invigorating to me knowing that I am trusted with key responsibilities and oversight in order to release the senior pastor to travel and work on wider projects.
My wife is happy that I don’t have the pressures some of our great friends have who have taken the gutsy move of being in charge in difficult parishes or places. At some point we will go down that track, but in the meantime we are thankful to God. I can see why some assistants get the itch to hold the reins, and that happens to me sometimes – then I simply remember the benefits of being an assistant and I praise God for this great opportunity.