Each year a fresh wave of curates is released into ministry within the Church of England, and this book offers a glimpse of what awaits them. It is a collection of stories written by current curates, ex-curates and one clergy spouse.

The final two chapters reveal the authors’ aims: to use stories as a basis for reflection on the opportunities and challenges curates may encounter, and to offer advice to those beginning or considering this ministry.

The contributors come from an impressively diverse range of backgrounds. The most successful stories achieve very useful insight, while others are less well-written and feel more like extended anecdotes.

I was particularly encouraged and challenged by the reflections on pioneer ministry, on the difficulties raised by serving in an established and institutional church, and on the ways in which contributors sustained their ministries in the face of personal tragedy and struggle.

As might be expected, a lot of the stories revolve around the unique calling, gifts and ministry of clergy. I would have liked to read more on the importance of team ministry and of collaboration between ordained ministers and those serving God in other walks of life.

While I’m not quite sure the book deserves the ‘must-read’ status advertised on its cover, I’m certain it will be interesting and useful to anyone wanting insight into life serving within the Church of England, and of particular help to those considering, training for or beginning ordained ministry. 

BEN ASKEW is a pioneer curate working at Kairos Network Church in Harrogate