Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 June 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Transparency, trust and bishops

Neil Elliot NumbersMatter From Creation to Revelation: why seven is the most special number

Philip North Church Times It is time for a new deal for underpaid clergy
“A culture of low remuneration and overwork can be addressed only by more funding at a national level”

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Helen King
Helen King
1 month ago

Having written my blog post before GS Misc 1387 landed, I shall be writing an update…

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  Helen King
1 month ago

If they enact the proposals, it will go quite a long way towards addressing the issues. But whether we can trust them not to circumvent their own procedures remains to be seen. Dysfunctionality is hard-wired into the system. But the proposals for minutes and a greater openness are a good start.

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
1 month ago

Agreed, it’s a good start. My reading of GS Misc 1387 is now here: https://shared-conversations.com/2024/06/15/removing-the-fiction-wrangling-bishops/

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Re: the number 7

While today we calculate the lunar cycle as 29-30 days, traditionally in prehistoric societies, it was calculated as 28 days or 4 times 7.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

“traditionally in prehistoric societies, it was calculated as 28 days or 4 times 7.” Any evidence for that? Ancient societies were not so stupid as not to know the number of days between new moons. Lunar calendars with months of alternately 29 and 30 days go back to ancient times. By definition we don’t have a record of what prehistoric societies may have done but it is inherently unlikely that they would have deviated from reality. As for the significance of 7: there is one obvious natural set of 7 that Neil Elliot doesn’t mention: it is the number of… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

The seven visible wanderers underpin Roman days of the week.

But some quick research that the Hebrew scholars here can confirm/refute is that ancient Hebrew does NOT use these as the basis for names of the week. Moreover it is thought that the Egyptians had a ten day week so the Hebrew seven day week is not a cultural appropriation as part of the Exodus. I think your idea works in a number of ancient cultures but the evidence that it is relevant to the Jews dating back to Moses and beyond is IMO weak.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

The Romans only adopted the week into their civil calendar when Christianity became the official religion, and the first day of each week became a holiday. But the week was known for its astrological significance before that, and derives from Babylon at least. The Babylonians named the weekdays after the planetary deities, and these names were transferred by the Greeks to the corresponding Greek gods: ἡμέρᾱ Ἡλίου (Helios), Σελήνης (Selene), Ἄρεως (Ares), Ἑρμοῦ (Hermes), Διός (Zeus), Ἀφροδῑ́της (Aphrodite), and Κρόνου (Kronos). Clearly these names transfer across to the corresponding Roman gods, and thence to the Germanic gods (some of the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Kershaw
Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

So maybe the Jews copied monotheism from Akhenaten and the seven day week and the Sabbath from the Babylonians? That really would change how we view the Old Testament.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I don’t think what I wrote about the Babylonians would be considered particularly revolutionary.

As for monotheism — when did Judaism become fully monotheistic?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Thanks for your post, Simon, I found it interesting. But can I add in a bit of nuance by providing a pagan perspective. One text I value, which gives a balancing pagan view to much Christian discourse about the Roman Empire, is “a Chronicle of the last Pagans” by Pierre Chuvin. This is advertised by Harvard University press as “a history of the triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire as told from the perspective of the defeated: the adherents of the mysteries, cults, and philosophies that dominated Greco–Roman culture.” https://www.reddit.com/r/themountaingoats/comments/hjx30c/as_promised_heres_a_pdf_of_chronicle_of_the_last/ According to Chuvin, Constantine, originally a pagan, chose to… Read more »

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

It is often overlooked that Judaism did not even exist before the Babylonian exile. The name ‘Jew ‘is only found in about three places in the entire Old Testament, and in two of those, it simply means a member of the tribe of Judah rather than the adherent of a religion. The Samaritans of the New Testament, who considered themselves the OG Hebrews, appear to have regarded the Jews as interlopers and religious innovators.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
1 month ago

I agree Matthew. How does one move forward to a Christian faith that takes modern scholarship about middle eastern archaeology and history seriously. But to do so involves challenging the deep seated beliefs and understandings of many Christian people.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

From the mediaeval bunker- Bede’s
‘On the reckoning of time’ aka ‘De Temporibus’ is well worth dipping into. He had an amazing intellect

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing the Neil Elliot piece. I wish it was deeper but it’s still worthwhile – the importance of numbers in the Bible is often overlooked

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
1 month ago

The Bishop of Blackburn is somewhat coy as to whom he is addressing his argument. As a diocesan bishop he is in a position of great influence to bring about the changes he seeks. He can lobby his colleagues in wealthier dioceses. He can bring pressure to bear on the Church Commissioners. Most ‘employers’ with a recruitment and retention problem would look at what they were offering their ‘employees’ to be sure that it was sufficient to ensure a sustainable future for the organisation. Let us not forget that the CofE fought a case all the way to the Court… Read more »

Cantab
Cantab
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

It’s never been explained to me satisfactorily why archdeacons, cathedral canons and deans, and bishops get the higher stipend and pensions. I’ve done the calculation (somewhere…can’t find it) before, and if all stipends and pensions were levelled it would fund around 100 further stipendiary clergy posts, possibly more. But I suppose that once you get “up there” there’s no incentive to change the system. If needless Diocesan appointments were also done away with that’s even more stipendiary posts funded. Meanwhile, parishes are squeezed harder and harder for higher share to fund a bloating middle…

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Putting more and more on the shoulders of lay volunteers is a poor thing to be celebrating for any organisation. If it gets too much, people will and do walk away – they have no compulsion to continue volunteering if it is no longer a manageable and enjoyable role. I certainly will not be entertaining being a member of my PCC at the moment given what I see that group of people needing to do in vacancy at the moment and the role of churchwarden is now an utterly poisoned chalice given the active hostility of the diocese to supporting… Read more »

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

Find myself a bit shocked to be in agreement with Philip North, but he seems to be pointing out what I have been saying for sometime – we are using the wealth of the church badly and impoverishing ministry in our parishes to fund projects and central posts.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

Clergy moan about their circumstances, and yet as soon as anyone suggests that they should be even a teensy-weensy bit accountable, they start going on about being office holders not employees. Can’t have it both ways.

As you say, A-not-so-humble-parishioner, we do use the church’s wealth badly. The answer is for parishes to stop giving to their Diocese, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for Philip North to suggest that.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Oliver, are you familiar with the terms and conditions of Common Tenure for clergy? Regular appraisals are a core feature of that.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Thanks Fr Dean, yes I am aware of that. They just sound like warm fireside chats to me. Has anyone ever lost their job for being uninspiring and lazy? Is there even any mechanism to do that?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

If you are aware then you will know they are anything but fire side chats. I used to run these programs. And why focus on laziness rather than the intention to encourage, support, resource and develop faithful ministry?

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

And why focus on laziness rather than the intention to encourage, support, resource and develop faithful ministry?

Because all carrot and no stick doesn’t work. Everybody needs to be accountable. There’s good reason why almost every successful organisation fires people anyone who lacks diligence.

Encouraging, supporting, resourcing and developing faithful ministry should be the focus of any appraisal – of course it should – but there needs to be an ‘or else’ in the small print, otherwise some people just don’t bother.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Why do you assume that the encouragement and support I speak of is ‘all carrot’ and without a stick contains no accountability and the only result is lazy ministers – which seems to be your default assumption? All good ministry development programs contain appropriate challenge. It can be tough and sometimes needs to be. And no – I don’t think people in any business or organisation work well when there is an ‘or else’ threat hanging over them. And for it is worth if a business thinks such threats are necessary to encourage workforce loyalty and commitment it should be… Read more »

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

I think practically every business and organisation has an implied threat of dismissal for laziness. That’s just in the nature of things. To deny that is absurd.

So if a vicar didn’t meet any of the challanges you agreed with them, what were the consequences?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

‘if a vicar didn’t meet any of the challenges’ … any? none? You continue to start from such low expectations of clergy. I doubt will persuade you otherwise here. But I thought you said you were aware of the terms and conditions the CofE uses?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Oliver, if being a cleric is such an easy ride, almost a sinecure if we agree with your premise, why does the CofE have a recruitment and retention problem?

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago
  1. It’s considered a low-status occupation
  2. People believe, wrongly, that it doesn’t pay well.
  3. Historic safeguarding failures make people want to keep their distance.
  4. Jumping through all the hoops to become ordained is wearisome and can result in arbitrary refusal for any number of reasons (or so it looks from the outside).
  5. The aging demographic of the church means that there are fewer suitably aged people to apply.
  6. People sense that the Church of England is dying and a little bit corrupt, and don’t want to be a part of it.
Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

“considered a low-status occupation” — by whom?

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

“considered a low-status occupation” — by whom?

Just anecdotal, from people I know – a cross between a teaching assistant and a care worker.

Tony Afficionado
Tony Afficionado
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Thank you for your anecdotal opinion, albeit you proclaimed it initially as unassailable fact. I am very glad that I do not have to serve you, and pity your parish priest. ‘Getting Ordained’ is rightly rigorous. Parish ministry is demanding, and you do require a certain quality of ‘toughness’ to be able to withstand it. Plenty of people cannot sustain a ministry because of the sheer relentlessness of the attempt to try and and engage in a world of never-ending need, all the while pointing to the God who did not design it this way. It is not so much… Read more »

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

This may say more about the people you know than it does about the general view of the clergy.

Tony Afficionado
Tony Afficionado
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

I don’t think, despite your claims to the contrary, that you truly do understand ministry, MDR, the relationship between bishops and archdeacons with parish clergy and the sheer stress and pressure that being a parish priest entails. I spent 20 years in a high-pressured commercial banking environment with the sort of management systems you seem to be advocating, including as ‘a stick-holder’ to use your language. Ministry is much tougher – by some margin. If I wanted an easy life I would go back to the cut-throat world of corporate banking with clear identifiable goals, targets and performance metrics which… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
1 month ago

North merely tinkers at the edge of clergy problems. For example, a major issue for maintaining a vicarage in this diocese (others may be wonderful) is the very longwinded bureaucracy that makes it impossible to get any repairs done in a timely & cost effective manner, regardless of how essential they are for those living there. I am sure that the idea is to ensure that money is not spent unnecessarily, but the reality is that it annoys everyone & takes up time that could be better spent on other things. No account has been taken of the impact of… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Francis James
1 month ago

Am I reading this correctly? In the CoE, repairs to a local parish vicarage are the responsibility of the diocese?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Yes. Clergy houses are maintained by the diocese.

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

In theory – in practice they tell PCC’s to ‘like it or lump it’ when they point out the sad state of repair of the clergy house associated with their parish. We were recently told that a range of obvious and significant issues with the rectory would not be repaired by the diocese and that the PCC would need to fund this themselves if they wanted it to be undertaken (no interfering with the Parish Share mind!). All the while the diocese extracts a commercial rent from this property while we are in vacancy. Utterly disgraceful.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Hmmm…in TEC, the vicarage (or as we usually call it the rectory) is owned and maintained by the parish, with all expenditures approved by the vestry (our version of the PCC). If we had to go through diocesan bureaucracy for repairs, many of our clergy would be living in buildings deemed uninhabitable by local authorities.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Maybe, but English parishes send significant amounts of money to their diocesan purse to fund clergy stipends, housing, training and pensions, as well as other (much smaller) diocesan costs.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

TEC parishes have their own version of “parish share” to be sent to the diocese.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

In the Anglican Church of Canada it is the same, except in the Diocese of the Arctic where the diocese maintains the mission houses. Every other rectory i lived in was totally maintained by the parish. They were also responsible for paying my stipend and expenses (they could apply for diocesan subsidisation if they needed it), and paying their apportionment to the diocese for the costs of running the diocese and the national church. When I moved to Edmonton the situation changed as the rectories here were phased out in the 1990s; parishes are responsible for paying a salary sufficient… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

There are some advantages ot the CofE’s system of the diocese maintaining the housing stock and acquiring and disposing of properties as appropriate. In many parts of the country housing, especially housing suitable for an incumbent (e.g. with a study and with space for entertaining etc, and within reasonable distance of the church) would be exorbitantly expensive, or perhaps totally unavailable at short notice, or alternatively difficult to dispose of at short notice. A diocese can balance these costs across its collective housing stock, can hopefully afford to buy or rent suitable accommodation, and keep it during a vacancy ready… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Well, I would disagree with that, of course! First, I think almost every other profession has to deal with this same issue, and I think most of the people in those professions would far rather have the opportunity to provide their own housing and build up some real estate – either that, or rent a place of their own choice. Second, the advantages to the cleric definitely end at age 65, unless he or she has been married to someone wealthy enough to get a foot in the real estate market. When my dad retired as a C of E… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

The CofE requires its clergy to live in their parish (exceptions can be made, I understand, but I think they are pretty rare). To me, this is a Good Thing. The pastor lives with their flock and is a part of the community, known and available to churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike. They have the same issues with the same local councils or with the schools or the amenities or the weather or the traffic etc etc as their parishioners. They are not (to use a pejorative word) “parachuted” in from outside. If it’s a poor area they live with the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Although they have a partially common heritage, TEC and the C of E are different animals. There can be no comparison with the literally thousands of the C of E’s churches and clergy houses. We equally have rectories as well as vicarages, dependent upon the history of the parish and the original status of the incumbent as rector or vicar. In today’s church, he or she may be neither, but the name of the parochial clergy house tends to stick.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

‘There can be no comparison with the literally thousands of the C of E’s churches and clergy houses’

I don’t get the logic of that. Whether there are thousands or hundreds, there’s still one church per point in the parish (I served a three-point parish 1991-2000, so there were three churches), and one rectory per parish. And, given that we aren’t the established church, we draw on a smaller population to fund it all. Also, our travel costs (in rural parishes) are higher.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

See your own reply to Pat O’Neill immediately above mine to him. At the last count the C of E had in excess of 16,000 churches – I don’t know how many parochial houses, but it will be another huge number. The comparison between that scenario of centrally maintained properties, and the single clergy house in TEC parishes (equally so, it seems, in Canada) could not be more stark or more obvious.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Given that (based on comments here) so many clergy are actually serving multiple parishes (perhaps as many as four or five), surely some of those parochial houses are superfluous and can be sold?

Similarly, 16,000 CoE churches for a population of about 56 million (in England), of which less than 2% are practicing Anglicans (or about 1 million), means only about 60 Anglicans for each church building. And, given the area of England at about 50,000 square miles, means one church for every 3 square miles.

Something is very wrong over there.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Yes, of course many superfluous clergy houses have been sold. Parishes in general don’t like that because they know it means they will never have a priest living in their village any more. But that’s the way it is.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

All things are relative one supposes. There are 7000 parishes in TEC. There are 115 Dioceses, 45% of which have less than 2500 ASA. TEC has arguably a glut of Bishops and Dioceses and needs to deal with that. I will not speak for the CoE, but the inestimable Froghole reminded us constantly on the similarly unviable number of parishes in the CofE. It is hard to rank and uncessary, whose burden needs greater attention. Answer, both. And with Mr Waterridge, TEC isn’t the CofE, and vice-versa. Our tone should reflect that.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Yes, but 7000 parishes in a country of some 3.8 million miles means one parish for every 540 square miles. That’s quite a difference from England’s 3 square miles.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Obviously. You haven’t said anything about the point I am stressing.

“There are 115 Dioceses, 45% of which have less than 2500 ASA. TEC has arguably a glut of Bishops and Dioceses and needs to deal with that.”

You look at a CofE you do not know well, but fail to register the hugely comparably problems in TEC.

Is this just ‘change the subject’ or, ‘we in the US know best?’

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I know TEC’s problems well….but, given the differences in size and population, I think US Episcopalians are handling things much better than the Anglicans of England are.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

It appears you moved from housing for clergy in the CofE to geographical distance of TEC parishes.

Leaving that aside, what evidence are you evincing that 115 dioceses and bishops (for a church of diminishing size to the point of under 850k ASA) is being seriously addressed by TEC, viz., “US Episcopalians are handling things much better than the Anglicans of England are.”

That just sounds odd. Is it, “Our demise is slower than yours.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Yes, but – each parish doesn’t have to maintain sixteen thousand houses. They only have to maintain one. So whether it’s your sixteen thousand or our four thousand, the actual ratio of houses to parishes is not that much different.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Francis James
1 month ago

Literally everyone has to either repair their own house, or ask their landlord to. All things considered, dioceses seem to be very reasonable landlords, allbeit inneficient.

If a member of the clergy has been working hard then there’s no need to feel guilty about taking appropriate time off. A voicemail message and an email autoreply is all that’s needed. People understand that sort of thing.

I know my own experience is limited, but most clergy I know seem to take Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons off.

James H
James H
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Really? I was never able to do that, even when there weren’t weddings. Saturday never was a good day off for me, as people often often made last minute contact ahead of Sunday, and a busy Sunday always went better with last minute fine tuning the previous evening. Sunday afternoons are quieter following the death of evensong, but after a long morning dashing between services you need that to recharge. I am retired now. I take one service on Sunday and love it. I feel like I am worshipping again and not merely facilitating worship.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  James H
1 month ago

I think we must have a definition of work, James H. A few phone calls in the evening isn’t the same as a full day’s work. And “recharging” is the opposite of work.

And there were only about 32,000 weddings in the Church of England last year, which is an average of 2 per church. If you did more than that then you’ll understand that there must have been people who did less.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

I am just wondering what you consider a full days work for a priest. Perhaps you could itemise it, so that we know where you are coming from.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Ian
1 month ago

I think 7 or 8 hours per day is reasonable – more for clergy who live right next to their church and have no commute. There’s no reason for “last minute fine tuning” Sunday’s services to take more than a few minutes of that.

Working is different from being on call.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

You make it all sound so easy. With your efficient approach to parish life, I trust you will be offering yourself to run a twenty-parish benefice sometime soon. Just think of all the fun things you could with all the spare time you’d have whilst doing that!

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 month ago

I haven’t really understood your point or your logic Fr Dexter.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Neither, it would seem, do you understand clerical life.You clearly assume we sit around all day with nothing to do. Perhaps you should spend some time with some clergy and learn something about the people at whom you are always so ready to take pot shots.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

You said we needed a definition of the work. All you gave me was 7 or 8 hours,, and some extraordinary notion of fine tuning Sunday Services taking no more than a few minutes.You seem to think clergy are quite lazy. I asked you to itemise the working day, perhaps you would be kind enough to explain how the priest fills those 7 or 8 hours, so they can see where they are going wrong.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Ian
1 month ago

I’m not sure how serious you are Ian. A priest’s role will vary depending on their job. A vicar might lead bible studies, meetings, prayer groups etc. They might run coffee mornings, parent and toddler groups, or homeless drop-in schemes. It depends on their gifts. They might spend time leading services (in an empty or full church), or they might just sitting in the pews praying. They might spend time writing grant applications and thank you notes. If there’s a church school or nursing home in the parish they’ll want to be there a day or two a week, and… Read more »

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Well really, i’m not interested in gotcha. You said we needed a definition, well now you”ve given it. Fair enough.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Well finally you and I agree on something, Mr Miller. You write ‘there is always something to do’. How very right you are! In my (very substantial) experience as both a parish priest of many years’ standing, and having held posts that have led me to be involved in multiple dioceses simultaneously, most of the time these days, the clergy are busy doing it. Including on their one day off. The era of the ‘lazy’ clergyperson has long passed, if indeed it was ever there as anything but the exception that those minded to do so would use to suggest… Read more »

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Realist
1 month ago

“I have held unpaid additional Diocesan, national church and theological college roles. I have held unpaid public service appointments in the local community, and also in national statutory and voluntary organisations.” It sounds like you’re one of the good guys, Realist. I simply don’t believe that my experience is unusual. I know human nature, I know what it’s like to be unaccountable and unappreciated, and I see how the clergy I know personally behave. I can see how someone in that position could easily become disillusioned and decide to shape their ministry in a way that allows them to do… Read more »

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Sunday afternoons off? What is the world coming to!

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

I have no idea where in the world you are, but I know no clergy who take Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons off.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Francis James
1 month ago

A sensible cleric would have a cheap and cheerful work phone and a personal phone, with separate work and personal email addresses. The work phone can then be switched off when the cleric is off duty. Hospital and prison chaplains manage this without any difficulty. They do their contracted hours including on call duties and then redirect their work calls elsewhere. Parish clergy need to manage their own work life balance, senior clergy have a PA to filter their calls. Voicemail and the ‘off’ switch have to suffice for the rest.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

‘The work phone can then be switched off when the cleric is off duty.’ Um – you don’t get after hours emergency calls?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Not on my day off or when I was in the Costa del Sol.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

So who covered for pastoral emergencies on your day off?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

The church wardens could sign post neighbouring clergy including the rural dean. Genuine emergencies are rare events and lay people have pastoral skill too. My church wardens fully understood that I was not an unlimited resource. Many clergy think that they’re invincible, get burnt out and find that they’re little use to anyone.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

I’m not a masochist and I don’t think I’m invincible. But I do know that I can’t tell people who they should trust when they go through personal emergencies.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

None of the GPs at my surgery work full time. If I want to see my preferred GP I may have to wait, if I consider it an urgent matter that can’t wait, I might have to see another GP or an advanced nurse practitioner. Given the parlous state of the NHS in the UK I might not see anyone at all.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

How about counsellors/therapists, are they interchangeable for you too?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

I’m not aware of the situation in Canada but here those offering psychological therapy do not offer a 24hr a day service. Therapists here have days off when they are not available, they also take annual leave. If I need to see my psychotherapist urgently I have to wait until she has a free appointment; if I am so distressed that it leads to a mental health crisis I imagine I would have to see the duty psychiatrist working in A&E. You haven’t explained why people should expect 24/7 access to a priest of their choice, sometimes in life we… Read more »

Christine Allsopp
Christine Allsopp
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

When the Vicarage is next to, or near the church, then no time off can be guaranteed unless the vicar goes away from home. The boundaries, especially in rural parochial ministry are much harder to maintain than in chaplaincies. That is not a complaint, merely stating a reality.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Call me old fashioned, but I wanted to be accessible to my parish and parishioners who I loved and was there to serve them sacrificially. I agree with a level of separation of private and work, but ministry is not a job that can be defined like this. I think we have totally lost the importance of the incarnational presence of the priest in the community. Like the royals “we need to be seen to be believed”. We do not do contracted hours!

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Not contracted hours no, but we do need to have boundaries or we become punch bags, punched with people’s unrealistic expectations. In the days when a priest had a single parish he (for it would have been a man in those days) could respond to anything and everything and still read and paint. Nowadays with sometimes ten parishes you simply cannot be at every end of term school service and jumble sale. I may be a walking sacrament but I can’t be in three places at once. The church does exploit the vocational goodwill of its clerics, so we have… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

From what I have seen the CofE hierarchy have little (if any) interest in the welfare of their clergy, or lay employees. This is most starkly shown when a priest commits suicide & the main aim of the diocese seems to be to get the spouse & children out of the vicarage as swiftly as possible. Recently I shocked a newly ordained priest by asking him whether he had joined a union, & forcefully explaining why he should do so as soon as possible.  As a former seafarer I would put the CofE down at the level of P&O as… Read more »

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
1 month ago

Philip North makes a good argument for better pay and conditions for clergy but fails to address the elephant in the room – the collapse in church attendance. Going forward we are will both need (and only be able to afford) a much smaller number of clergy. And if he is serious about clergy wellbeing he needs to stop the practice of giving clergy more church buildings to look after, which is something he can do unilaterally in Blackburn.

Rod (Rory) Gillis
Rod (Rory) Gillis
1 month ago

Re: Neil Elliot and seven, Canadian Anglicans might be wise to to contemplate the number one i.e. the last Anglican as extinction number….like the old Three Dog Night tune, one is the loneliest number. Certainly finances are a harbinger. (link).

Money crisis
https://anglicanjournal.com/cogs-ponders-cuts-future-shape-of-church-amid-bleak-financial-outlook/

One…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvA5xFuDb0o

Leslie Buck
Leslie Buck
1 month ago

Neil Elliott writes “The first thing that should be said about seven is that there is no obvious reason why seven should be a significant number. It does not correspond to any obvious human or natural property . . .”  In fact, however, it does. In “one of the most highly cited papers in psychology” published in 1956 in Psychological Review, George Miller demonstrated the psychological significance of 7.  See the article in Wikipedia The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. One way of thinking of this is to consider the question: Do… Read more »

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