Rev. Lynn McChlery is shown here (on the left) being awarded the 2014 British & Irish Association for Practical Theology (BIAPT) annual dissertation prize. The BIAPT chair, Dr Clare Watkins, presented Lynn with a cheque for £400 at the association’s conference which took place in Edinburgh, 15 – 17 July 2014.
BIAPT brings together practitioners, researchers, teachers and students for mutual support and learning. The aims of this prize are to acknowledge excellent research undertaken by Masters students and to encourage students to see BIAPT as an ongoing community of learning and reflection during and after their studies.
Lynn, a Church of Scotland minister, wrote her dissertation ‘How might the theory and practice of Ignatian Spirituality inform vocational discernment in the Church of Scotland?’ under the supervision of Dr Eric Stoddart, as the culmination of her studies on our distance learning MLitt Bible and the Contemporary World programme.
As Lynn writes in the opening of her dissertation: ‘Hearing what God is saying to you is difficult; hearing what God is saying to someone else is almost impossibly difficult. This core discernment acquires a further layer of complexity with the added requirement to simultaneously assess the other person’s suitability for a role. All of that is wrapped round in pastoral sensitivity, as it yields a potentially damaging verdict on a person’s whole life, inner and outer. And it is weighted by the importance that the resulting decision will define someone’s life, with significant consequences for others.
This is the task of the Church of Scotland’s National Assessors. They work with people who believe themselves called by God to be ministers, and are responsible for ultimately deciding: is this person authentically called to serve the church in this role? This very challenging question requires Assessors to be equipped with adequate tools for wise discernment.’
Through interviews with National Assessors in the Church of Scotland and Spiritual Directors within the Roman Catholic Church, Lynn explored ways in which the Ignatian tradition might contribute to enhancing the discernment of people’s call to ordained ministry within the Kirk.
Lynn’s dissertation was adapted into an article ‘How might the theory and practice of Ignatian spirituality inform vocation discernment in the Church of Scotland?’ Practical Theology 8.1 (2015): 2-18.