Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 September 2019

Janet Fife Surviving Church Bishops-Free from the ‘bondage of corruption’?

Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls On Not Sharing the Peace

Michael Sadgrove Woolgathering in North East England Called to the Priesthood, Called to be Lay

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Focus on prevention

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News The (Rebel) Alliance of Allies

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Janet FifeStanley MonkhouseRowland WateridgeSusannah Clarkdr.primrose Recent comment authors
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Kate
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Kate

I think Michael Sandgrove is completely missing the point by concentrating on how he feels, how he himself is affected. I doubt he is alone because the Church isn’t addressing the big theological issues of our times. If a couple marry in a civil ceremony, are they truly married? In an age where deathbed confession is no longer the norm, what of sins committed between the person’s last communication or confession and death. And that’s like prorigation. If a day doesn’t matter, does a week, or a month, a year or a decade? There’s so much attention on what being… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

“If a couple marry in a civil ceremony, are they truly married?” I have always been taught — and believe — that it is the couple who are the ministers of the sacrament of marriage. A priest can bless the couple, but the couple themselves make the vows and know their intention. Setting aside the legal requirements, what more is necessary?

Tim Cnesterton
Guest

Hear, hear!

Tim Cnesterton
Guest

Like Michael Sadgrove I have loved all the years of my ministry. However, as retirement gets closer I find that I am looking forward to sitting beside my wife in church, after 40 years of sitting apart. She married me when I was already in full time ministry, so consistent weekly worshipping side by side is almost unknown to us. Is it selfish that I look forward to this? Well, sorry, but my family has sacrificed a lot for my ministry. And I made vows to my wife too.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Tim, bravo! As a retiree I feel exactly the same way. While I help out occasionally if I can during the rector’s vacation, sitting with my wife each Sunday is one of the joys of retirement worship. Mind you, I’m in an area where there is no shortage of clergy willing to do supply. If I lived where clergy availability was in short supply, and colleagues had few options to obtain vacation, take sick time, and the like, I may feel differently.

Tim Cnesterton
Guest

I would like to add, that after my father retired in his early sixties he continued to spend almost every Sunday leading worship somewhere. Christmas also continued to be busy. We live in Canada and he lived in England, and we had hoped that with retirement we might see him more often at Christmas. But the needs of parishes still came first, ahead of his children and grandchildren. We only spent one Christmas together (since I am also in full time ministry) after advancing Parkinson’s made continuing to lead services impossible for him. Is it selfish of us to have… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think he did it exactly right

Tim Cnesterton
Guest

‘I think he did it exactly right’.

Just as a matter of interest, was your father or mother a priest?

Kate
Guest
Kate

No.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Clergy have obligations not only to the Church, but to family, godchildren, and friends. These are sacred duties too, but parishes tend to make it difficult for clergy (or any full-time worker) to fulfil them. It’s hardly surprising, then, that many priests see retirement as a time to restore the balance a little, however belatedly. Active ministry is so busy that clergy have little time for prayer, theological reading, and the cultivation of our own spiritual life. It’s not just our work that God wants; it’s our very self, our friendship. I’ve been told that ancient Celtic holy people, toward… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘No’

Then I think it’s hard for you to understand the price that clergy families pay so their loved one can be at the service of everyone who needs them.

Bill Broadhead
Guest
Bill Broadhead

Thank you to Jeremy Pemberton for alerting us to another abuse of archiepiscopal power, and the attempt to use a profound symbolic liturgical act in an inappropriately one-sided way to smooth-over past pastoral failures. When this happens, you know it’s purely for the benefit of the person misusing the liturgical act, rather than the well-being of the intended recipient. The sign of peace, above all, symbolises that there is ‘shalom’ between those who will receive the sacrament. When there is not, this sort of superficial ‘patching up’ turns the sign of peace into a hollow sham. Good for Jeremy Pemberton… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Janet Fife is so right in her description of the problem. I don’t think her proposed solution is sufficient but she deserves credit for suggesting something at least.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Janet Baker, as reported by Michael: “Of retirement she said that it wasn’t about leaving a life behind so much as engaging with it more fully, in a more wholesome way.” I think that’s a fabulous outlook. “There was work to be done at that stage of life that she did not want to neglect. Human work. Heart work. The work of love. I warmed greatly to that way of putting it.” So true. We are not just defined by a role we have done for many years. We are not just called once. And life has seasons, stages, openings.… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

How refreshing to read Michael Sadgrove’s characteristically wise and gracious reflections. We shall miss his continuing public ministry desperately, not least his willingness to say what the hierarchy are too afraid to say; but so many of us will be thankful for the gift that Michael’s ministry has been.

Bishop Oliver Tomkins (of blessed memory) once famously said “While I have breath and a neighbour, I remain a priest.” Priesthood is always what I am much more than what I do.

Thank you, Michael, for giving us an imaginative vision of how that can be.

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

“Then I think it’s hard for you to understand the price that clergy families pay so their loved one can be at the service of everyone who needs them.” There’s another aspect of this when the clergy person retires, at least in TEC in big states with small populations where churches can be very far apart from each other. In TEC it is usual (whether by law, custom, or mandate from the bishop) for the clergy person and the related family members to stop attending the church from which the clergy person retired. There are obviously some good reasons supporting… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

The Church of England has a policy that clergy must move away from their parish when they retire, which solves the problem of not being able to attend the church. However, the policy is difficult to enforce. And we live in church housing, so we’re not tied to that location. Our problem is finding housing in our late 60s, and, of course, settling into a new town and area.

Have your friends thought of selling their home and settling elsewhere? It would be easier both for them and for the new incumbent.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

That policy is impossible to enforce if one is not dependent on church sources for buying the retirement home. After following me around for 46 years, 10 moves since 1973, our chattels having crossed the Irish Sea four times, my wife made the final choice. Her friends and networks are now here, so here we stay. I shan’t have anything to do with the churches where I currently serve (PTO in Lichfield diocese would rule that out), so I must seek a “home”. I no longer drive (eyesight) so it’ll be an interesting exercise for someone who values traditional liturgy… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

… I forgot to add, the PTO restriction concerns priestly activities, so there’s no reason why I can’t continue to be a volunteer at the homeless shelter hosted by one of my current churches (though what could more priestly or more diaconal?).

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

The issue is that if the former incumbent is still around, it’s more difficult for the new vicar to establish him/herself. Inevitably parishioners will still turn to the person they have an established relationship with, rather than make the effort to build a relationship with the newbie. It’s also difficult for the oldie to see the new incumbent changing things, or doing things differently than we did. Much healthier for all concerned to be out of the way completely. As you say, there’s no way it can be enforced other than the threat of loss of PTO, or possibly CDM.… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Janet: By ‘if necessary’ I assume you mean if the former incumbent intrudes. I haven’t encountered this situation with clergy, but know of a retired cathedral organist (now deceased) who was a thorough nuisance to his successor. (My post below about organ-playing was, of course, intended for Father Stanley.)

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I meant if the former incumbent doesn’t move away from the parish. As I said above, even his/her being there makes it more difficult for the newbie to establish their ministry. And for the previous vicar, it’s healthier to move away and make a fresh start, rather than hang around and feel miffed if the new priest makes changes we don’t like. I’ve seen this from both sides.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I hope there will still be time and scope for playing the organ!

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

If it’s not a parish where you’re been an incumbent, there should be no problem with playing the organ.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Oh dear, oh dear. I wasn’t speculating that Father Stanley might be playing for services in his present churches. For my part, I see no earthly reason why he shouldn’t have access to the organ for practice or personal enjoyment. But, in any case, he has said he will stay away from them. I was going to refrain from making a ’plug’ for the organist in the context of priests’ retirement, having been shot down on another TA thread. Of course there are good and bad organists – very few of the latter, I would suggest. Some clergy recognise that… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

You’re absolutely right, Rowland. 40 yrs an organist, managed to pass FRCO when younger, many years before ordination I refused all Saturday gigs since Sunday was, from a family point of view, ruined, and I didn’t want Saturday going the same way. Anyway I was sick of Morning has broken and Sing hosanna, and the wedding fee was derisory. As a cleric, I treat my organists with the utmost care. They have total power to make or break the liturgy. I have lots of stories to tell, of course, but one that illustrates a whole load of issues is this.… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

No worries Janet, I wouldn’t mind no PTO. And they can CDM me if they like. Since my spellcheck suggests satan for stan I was thinking I might explore other possibilities. Or one of the Roman Gods perhaps (Priapus, Somnus, Bacchus spring to mind). Rowland, I too hope that playing the organ will be possible, eyesight permitting. That might be a better use of my skills than simply being a mass priest. But they’ll have to collect and return me. One thing’s for sure, I’m in no hurry to apply for PTO – indeed until recently it wouldn’t be granted… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I think it’s really sad that much-loved families have to go into exile. It seems harsh and unnatural. We had a much-loved priest who moved away as was expected, and his dear wife started suffering from dementia, and where is the humanity in that kind of exile? I also know of a priest who has been specifically told he should not return to the church where he and his family served for many years, not because he had done anything wrong but, I presume, the insecurity of the new incumbent. I do understand how in some cases the ‘old vicar’… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Susannah: Well, of course, as a layman I can’t offer any experience of this, but completely agree. As long as the existing incumbent doesn’t interfere with his/her successor, why can’t they and their family be left in peace?