Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 24 June 2023

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Revised Church of England Ministerial Training Curriculum

Fergus Butler-Gallie New Statesman Why vicars are revolting
“Front-line clergy are turning against an increasingly managerial Church of England.”

Huw Spanner Church Times Clergy retirement: Insights into the Church’s silver service
“There are dioceses in which retired priests preside at as many as half the eucharists celebrated. Huw Spanner hears about being relied on”

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Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Oh Archdruid, it has been too long!

Your proposals for new substance in ministerial training are most timely.

I love the intro: “After a six-week crash course in a thing called ‘Theology’…”

Ouch!

Last edited 9 months ago by Susannah Clark
Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Archdruid Eileen trivialises the issue of lack of appropriate training for Clergy. People who chair meetings by default as part of their job should know something about the subjects being discussed. It’s very frustrating volunteering in a church alongside paid clergy who haven’t got a clue about basics of church life. It’s awkward having to repeatedly tell the vicar that his suggestions would break tax law / employment law / or invalidate the insurance etc.

david rowett
Reply to  Oliver Miller
9 months ago

It’s even more frustrating, I suggest, when the person who is supposed to have insights into prayer, the human condiditon, pastoral care, the conduct of worship, Christian tradition and so on is expected also and primarily to be the resource for countless other things – concerning which there may well be better-qualified folk within his/her PCC.

In a collaborative PCC, there should be no shame if a parish priest is advised by competent people where they’re straying into unwise territory. Or am I missing something?.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  david rowett
9 months ago

In the US, the vestry (our equivalent to the PCC), includes two officials with the titles “rector’s warden” and “financial warden”. (There’s often a separate person called “treasurer,” as well.) The rector’s warden generally advises the rector and the other vestry members on things like hiring, physical upkeep, mission goals, etc. The financial warden is responsible for budgeting, fundraising, etc. While all actions must be approved by the vestry as a whole, having one person who is well versed in the finer points is worthwhile. (All decisions on worship and liturgy are ultimately the rector’s…but with considerable consultation with the… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
9 months ago

That was also my experience of the CofE congregation in Fountainebleau. Because the CofE is established by law, some things have to be done in accordance with that, and the priest in charge is the one charged with responsibility along these lines (provision of Holy Communion each Sunday, at least as on offer; financial accountability, etc).

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  david rowett
9 months ago

I’m reminded of a comment I once heard from a former US president, who, when asked how he went about putting together a leadership team, said, “First, you have to know what you don’t know. Second, you find people who know about those things. Third, you persuade them to join your team. Fourth, you listen to them.” That’s my approach to working with a vestry (PCC in C-of-E-speak). If I have an idea and someone else at the table knows it won’t work because of legal/practical reasons or whatever, I’m happy for them to speak up and correct me. I… Read more »

american piskie
american piskie
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

That’s indeed how many of us think it ought to be.

But the Law entrenches a culture of deference: the very first PCC function mentioned is “co-operation with the [F2minister] in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical”.



Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  american piskie
9 months ago

In the US, both by canon law and secular law, the parish is deemed a not-for-profit corporation with the rector as its CEO and the vestry as the board of directors–hence, the rector must seek vestry approval for any expenditure of parish funds.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Right Tim. In Nova Scotia the term is parish/congregational council. Laity know things clergy and bishops often do not. It is great to just wind up the laity and let them go. For example, in my final parish at St. James Armdale in Halifax, so many projects from refugee sponsorship to art and architecture came to fruition because of the gifts and leadership of the laity. Even with regard to preaching, so many insightful questions from laity gave me pause and challenge. It’s the whole people of God. Whole referring to the integrity of the group.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Oliver Miller
9 months ago

I think that is a problem of structure, not training. Just as a bishop has a dean to run their cathedral, a minister IMO ought to have someone to run their parish church and parish council. That’s going to need to be a lay position, probably a long-term volunteer who can be trained appropriately.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Kate
9 months ago

The problem in my area is not that the priests can’t delegate. It is that they have no one to delegate to. The long standing PCC members and church wardens are all in their 70s and 80s and needing to stand down, but with no “younger” volunteers coming through. So the priests have to take on an increasing number of admin duties themself. So the Archdruid has called it right.

Alice J Stewart
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

I assist shrinking churches (mostly, and mostly in the US) in their business sphere, and what I see is that running the business side of the church requires all the specialized knowledge and skills as any other nonprofit. When the volunteers are aging and there are fewer of them, when the required technology and compliance are constantly changing and not optional, and when you have to pay for outside staff who also have the required skills, this can get expensive… and yet the work must be done or things really fall apart. I help with that, but it’s a real… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

That is exactly the position many of us are in. And, in my experience, where there are younger volunteers they often lack time or confidence.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
9 months ago

To Archdruid Eileen’s list I would add car park surfacing, a subject which has absorbed an enormous amount of my vicar’s time and energy recently.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 months ago

I was once called in by an elderly lady who claimed to have swallowed her false teeth. Luckily I located them in her sewing box. This was not covered at my theological college.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Wonderful that she felt able to seek your help and great that you responded.

James
James
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Evidently you didn’t go to the Rev Ian Paisley’s theological college.
One day (the story goes) he was preaching about hell where he warned there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. A voice from the congregation cried out, “But I don’t have any teef!” Paisley shot back: “Teeth will be provided!”

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  James
9 months ago

It was a story told by the Irish comedian Dave Allen a long time ago and did not involve Dr Paisley, who was a very fine preacher and one whom no one would have interrupted.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
9 months ago

A parishioner once phoned me early in the morning to ask for advice on icing a cake. Sadly, I missed that module at Wycliffe so was unable to help her.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

I was once asked to tell a ghost to stop moving a waste paper basket in front of a lady’s TV screen which prevented her from seeing Coronation Street. Thankfully I felt able to help.

James
James
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

The ghost had the right idea.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

LOL

David Rowett
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

Oh, it was a core module at Cuddesdon in my day, along with wheelbarrow maintenance and batswing tie construction practicals…..

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
9 months ago

Shame that the New statesman article is behind a paywall

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dean
9 months ago

Took me two minutes to sign up for an account that gets me three free articles a month. That’s likely more than I’ll read.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

It’s a Starmer fanzine.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

I have just quoted this on another thread where some light relief seemed to be urgently needed, but logically this is the correct place for a further masterpiece of Archdruid Eileen’s wisdom:

https://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/2023/06/if-vicars-had-agony-page-in-manner-of.html

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

I always enjoy reading Archdruid Eileen’s commentaries when Thinking Anglicans includes them. And the updated curriculum is spot on! Like others, I also got a chuckle out of “a thing called Theology”. I’ve met clergy who that seemed to apply to. “‘People Made in God’s Image’ and how to avoid them” elicited a “Zing!” reaction from me. It seems all too true, reading about the wrangling in the CofE regarding various types of people other types of people don’t want to include in their club, and the hundreds of bills (no exaggeration) being introduced in state legislatures across the USA… Read more »

J F
J F
9 months ago

FBG: ‘ Bishops can and do weaponise employment status, protecting those they favour with gardening or sick leave on full pay, while ejecting those who don’t toe the line from their homes and livelihoods.’
This is a very strong claim made here – is this something that other people have experience of?

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  J F
9 months ago

I think this is how it feels to those whose sick pay is not extended beyond the 6th month of being ill (which any diocesan can shoose to do, but is not obligated to do). It is sufficently commonplace that questioning its veracity is unbelievable. Imagine a cleric bullied by parishioners so they can not face going to Church… or another whose vicarage is not fit for purpose and makes them ill (directly because of mold, or indirectly because of water leaks)… two simple examples of long term sickness. But the bishops choose not to extend sick pay, even though… Read more »

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Adrian
9 months ago

On the other hand have you never heard of people calling in sick on the flimsiest of pretexts?

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  Oliver Miller
9 months ago

No, not clergy, I am used to clergy suffering from presenteeism and going in to work when they are not fit to do so.

Nicholas Elder
Nicholas Elder
Reply to  Oliver Miller
9 months ago

That’s news to me! Who may one ‘call in sick to’ and how do they cover the work that you’re suddenly not able to do?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Nicholas Elder
9 months ago

Call the Area Dean . It’s their job to find a replacement.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Oliver Miller
9 months ago

That may happen in other walks of life. Lack of available cover often makes it impossible for clergy to take time off when they are ill, let alone when they’re not.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  J F
9 months ago

Yes

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