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To congregations about to receiving a candidate on placement 1 – Fergus Cook @ Greenbank

The Training Task Group of the Ministries Council is delighted that you are going to provide a training placement for a candidate on placement. Most congregations find this a stimulating, enriching and enjoyable experience, but it also means change, especially if you are having a candidate for the first time. The Task Group thought it might be helpful to outline its hopes for the placement, and the thinking that underlies it.

The background

The placement is made by the Task Group in careful consultation with the candidate. The aim is to ensure that the candidate receives the best possible training, and is given ample opportunity to receive constructive criticism, and to reflect on the relationship between their theological education and parish life. All salary costs and travelling expenses are met centrally. The placement normally lasts from October to Pentecost.

Changes for your minister

It might seem that your minister will be having an easier time with a candidate to share the load. The task of training, however, is a major one, and will occupy a great deal of your minister’s time, energy and imagination. This work is largely unseen, but it is vital for the candidate to receive a well-planned range of experiences, good critical feedback on the work that has been done, and time to discuss, reflect and ask questions.

Changes for the congregation

There will be a new face, a new voice, perhaps a new approach to some areas of parish life. On occasions where in the past you would have seen only your minister, now you may see minister and candidate together, or perhaps the candidate on his own. Please understand that if the candidate visits you at home or in hospital, or is asked to conduct a funeral, this does not mean that your minister is not interested in you. These are important areas of work for the candidate to experience before going to his/her own parish. The Task Group hopes that you will warmly welcome the candidate, and offer to him (support and encouragement. Each candidate brings a unique blend of skills and gifts, and these need to be used to the full; at the same time, however, it is important to remember that there is no guarantee that a replacement candidate will be allocated, so it is unwise for the candidate to develop too many new initiatives which cannot be sustained when he/she has gone.

A candidate will have a heavy workload from his/her University studies and therefore time spent in placement is limited and very much on a part time basis. Involvement in the life of congregation will therefore be restricted and this should be borne in mind.

Changes for the candidate

For most candidates this is an exciting time; a real taste of ministry in practice; an opportunity to get to know another congregation, the challenge of fulfilling their calling. Parish life is very difficult from university life, and time is needed to adjust. Every candidate makes mistakes; so please be patient and understanding!

Conference programme

The Task Group arranges compulsory conferences for all candidates to enable them to work together on issues relating to ministry.

If things go wrong

Thankfully this is a rare occurrence; if there are problems, the Task Group will seek to deal with them in a caring and pastoral way.


The church’s candidates represent the next generation of ministers, and this stage of their pre-ordination training is vital. The Task Group hopes that you will enjoy sharing in it. Future congregations as well as the Task Group and indeed the whole church looks to you to prepare them as fully as possible for the challenges of ministry that lie ahead.

We wish you God’s blessing as you undertake this task.


Yours sincerely

Convener Training Task Group

Ministries Council

Church of Scotland


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