The Pioneer Assessment Panel is within the structures of the Church of England and is accountable to the Ministry Council. Its role is to:
- Assess candidates, sent by a Bishop, for pioneering ministry against the Criteria for Pioneer Ministry.
- Advise Bishops on whether candidates, both lay and ordained, sent to the Panel have the potential and capacity for pioneering ministry in the Church of England.
From October 2016 the Pioneer Assessment Panel will operate in a different way to the previous Pioneer Panel. For those candidates seeking ordination it has been widely felt that the present system of the Panel before a BAP has put pioneers off from pursuing the pioneer designation because it elongated the time getting to ordination training and required three separate interviews with pioneer selectors at various locations across the country. This has meant that often good prospective pioneers have not pursued pioneer designation as part of their selection process. We want to enable a process which will see a significant rise in the number of designated OPMs coming forward for selection.
There has also been confusion for some candidates around the relationship of the Pioneer Panel to the BAP process. We want to make it clear that the work of the Pioneer panel is concerned about assessing capacity for pioneering and not about selection for priesthood. We want to encourage and enable Dioceses to send lay pioneers to the Panel as well potential ordinands.
There will be now a number of one day Pioneer Assessment Panels each year, probably initially three this year but hopefully growing in frequency, at which a group of pioneer candidates would attend with pioneer selectors. A one day panel will involve much less travel for candidates and will enable more creative selection processes than is presently possible with individual interviews while maintaining Quality Assurance issues. The Assessment Panel will involve creative group and presentational work as well as individual interviews. Panel Members will be involved in all the parts of the Panel process and in the writing up of reports at the end of the assessment day.
For potential ordinands the assessment day can, as before, be accessed before the BAP but candidates can also go to the assessment day after their BAP but before the end of Year 1 at a TEI if the student is studying for two years and before the end of Year 2 if they are studying for three years to give much greater flexibility for dioceses and candidates. This will solve the timing issues that have caused major problems but also enable BAP Advisors and or TEIs to suggest to a Bishop that the person be recommended as an ordained pioneer. We are aware of a growing number of pioneers who begin to pursue pioneering as a vocation once they have started their training. This simplified pioneer selection process offers much more flexibility for candidates and DDOs while maintaining a rigour around the selection of pioneers.
The newly formed Panel will make comment on whether the candidate’s pioneer ministry would be best served from
- Working as a ‘parish based’ pioneer working within a parish setting.
- Working as a ‘fresh start’ pioneer, as they seek under the Bishop’s authority to create and establish new Christian communities where none presently exists. These pioneers would normally follow a slightly different training pathway and may need to discover pioneering ways of finding suitable resources.
Transforming Ministry recognises that ‘the forms in which that priesthood is expressed will become more diverse in response to mission need’ and it is important that we recognise the diverse ways of fulfilling a pioneer vocation in the church today.
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