Friday, 17 April 2015

The Ministers' Academic Qualifications Usefulness Scale

Contrary to popular opinion, Science and Religion go quite well together. Many religious ministers have been qualified in other subjects before their call. Often in sciences or medicine. But which other qualifications are most useful in a religious minister?

The "Ministers' Academic Usefulness Scale" is here to help you discover. Based on to what degree (ho, ho) the Minister's academic background helps or hinders the life of the Church....


1. Degree in Engineering - Invaluable if the boiler breaks down

2. A Level in Geography - If you're wandering round town in a dog collar, people are more likely to ask you for directions. Or tell you where to go. Useful either way.

3 Masters in Organic Chemistry - Handy if you need to "accidentally" melt down some pews. Or make your own wine or tea lights.

4. D Phil in Astrophysics - At evening prayer, you can look up through where the lead used to be on the roof and tell people what the stars are called.

5. O Level/GCSE in Art - You can make nice displays with hazelnuts and ferns, to help people express their inner spirituality.

6. PE2 in Accountancy - So you can keep an eye on the treasurer.

7. A Level in Needlework - Those lovely clothes are not going to repair themselves.

8. BSc in Medicine - Useful for slow-starting congregations on cold mornings.


9  MA in Music - Your knowing it all in music will be an asset, as long as you reserve the exercise of your skill to singing in the bath. Do not show the organist the improved tricks you picked up while an organ scholar at "The House".

10. MBA - Not much use in the real world. Not much use in the Church world.

11. Economics BSc - Like Accountancy, useful for checking things like your church's contribution to central funds.  But if you're a passionate believer in Keynsian economics, you're in for a nasty shock. Although you can advocate it in sermons for the country, you won't get away with it when you need a new spire. Find the minister with an art O Level, and get her to paint a big thermometer.


12. BA Theology - OK for your own reflections, but try not to use it in Church stuff. It only scares people if you start talking about God.

13. MA Quantum Chemistry - Yes, the wave/particle duality theory is a nice analogy for the Incarnation, in that nobody understands either. Why didn't you do Organic? The drains need unblocking.


  1. I think you're not keeping up with modern education, sister Eileen. Nowadays you can do a B.A. in Liturgical Dancing, a Ph.D. in Plumbing, and a Diploma in Not-Falling-Into-Open-Graves. All very useful.

  2. (Oh, that sort of Minister. I'm a victim of too much election coverage.) I am still hoping my first degree in Thomist Computational Theology will come in handy for something.

  3. Upon listening to the Today programme I have realised my Maths degree should be useful in working out which hat I am wearing.

  4. Canon law teaching was banned at Oxford and Cambridge by Henry VIII in 1535, so not a career enhancing move at that time. Available from Cardiff since 1991 and held by a smattering of bishops, ecclesiastical judges, priests and bloggers.

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  6. I pointed out on twitter earlier the absence of degree's of any sort needn't hold a Minister Back. I'm sure that there are some quite useful non-academic VQ's or whatever they're called these days, that would suffice to meet the needs of ministers in any mode, whether pastoral, liturgical or brewing new types of Gin.

    For a start you need a Vocation to be discerned as suitable for ministery, therefore it follows that anyone with a #Vocational Qualification (VQ) at whatever level, is already qualified at foundation level for ministry in the church of England, whether as Arch Bishop or Graveyard Verger at the poorer end of the scale.

    VQ skills such as Hair Dressing, Nail Work, Eyebrow weaving, Botox injecting for women (and some men) in ministry are ideal hands on skills and, if carefully deployed, allows the Priest, Curate or NSM to beautify members of the congregation for a nominal sum.

    VQ Skills in Child Care are idea for those running Sunday schools, Messy Church or anything that entertains children between 2 to 18. (given there's currently no provision for teens, apart from confirmation prep) This provides endless opportunities to test your safe guarding policy and procedures.

    VQ's in Social Care are ideal for dealing with the many (well most) of your mature congregations members. Their ability to reassure without listening, to sharply pull up undergarment which are drooping (called a 'wedgie' I believe) will silence the most moany elder person in the congregation, but might even surprise and delight the more lively ones.

    VQ's in Building sills such as Roofing, Bricklaying, General Labouring, Security Officer can fit people to minister as Church Wardens, Vergers, Choir Directors, Grave Diggers, PCC Members and Treasurers and off course are very practical in maintaining the fabric of the ancient pile you curse on a daily basis. (I don't mean Colonel Blimp, Chairman of the PCC, Lay Chair of the Deanery Synod, Lay Chair of the Diocesan Synod and who works part-time on the Arch Bishops Council, no, I mean his spouse, who wears his retired rank on her tweeds and insists on bringing, wet Gun Dogs to church, sometimes with road kill in their mouths.

    So, while a degree might be useful, it's not the be all and end all. A VQ in the 'Third Degree' would be very good for mission. It can help in interrogation of potential parisioners, or in in discovering whether someone has stopped gift aiding their contributions in a fit of picque at the Choir Mistress, who refused to be a Mistress.

    No, I believe that a change of culture to give Vocational Qualifications the same academic standing as degrees is long over due within the Church of England and society at large.


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