Friday, 11 April 2014

Horses at the rectory

Silence from the rector's wife (once the Curate's wife) - now there is a rarity! The weeks are flying by in a blur; writing is taken up with the weekly church newssheet that I edit and minute writing when needed. Blogging can no longer be used to vent my opinions or emotions because there are lurkers out there! Some parishioners admit to reading this blog – good for you – I’m pleased you have found it ...and others read and say nothing. How do I know this?-  Because people let slip in conversation (without realising it) things that I have written about. If asked, I am always happy to talk about blogging but I do not advertise the fact that I blog.
Another reason for the silence is that words have failed me on so many occasions when I see what people expect from their Rector. It seems that with six churches, life is like a six horse carousel; - each church being represented by a horse that is either going up or down, as it circles around the Rector@6. He finds himself riding upwards as churches begin to reach outwards and think about mission and, when there are debts to be paid, arguments to be resolved and hurts to be mended, he rides downwards.  Perhaps, after a certain number of years in ministry, you stop riding these waves.
The other problem that is more unexpected, is that if the Rector@6 tries to make the church more accessible to people who do not come to church regularly, he finds that they have very little understanding and want everything on their agenda – particular dates and times (usually having invited the guests or booked the hall for the reception before speaking to the rector). Heaven forbid having to have the baptism on a Sunday and in a church service! Old friends or family vicars are pulled out of retirement and are recruited before speaking to the actual incumbent. It’s one thing making yourself accessible and another – being walked all over!
I have thought seriously about ending this blog and just keeping diaries to reflect on events at a later date. So often there are things I cannot write about – but I am shocked by some of the behaviour I have seen since being a ‘wife of ’. Yet Vicars are some of the most content people in their work. I can see why – because when things fit together and people work together – the world is a better place!
 Despite all the debris, life is beginning to make sense – and maybe the words will begin to flow more easily in time.


  1. It is hard knowing you can't speak freely in any context ... but I have really valued following your journey into a new setting, learning about the pitfalls of rural ministry etc. We minister in an inner city context ... so very different in many ways, but there are also some interesting similarities. Would miss you if you decided to stop xx

  2. It's quite difficult to speak publicly about that's good or bad (particularly bad) at work. I've heard stories of people being fired for what they said on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. About the only way you can fix that is by having your blog "by invitation only," and being careful about who you invite. But that does spoil much of the fun.

    Given that the Pound is worth about $2.00 Canadian, I would say that C of E stipends are comparable with clergy salaries here in Canada. The difference is that, if clergy were honest, there is much more dissatisfaction with work in Canadian and American churches. Peter Drucker, internationally-know management consultant, once spoke about the hardest (meaning, I think, most stressful) jobs in America. He listed five: University President, Hospital CEO, and a couple of others I cannot recall, ending with Parish clergy. For the clergy, it has to do with church decline, and unrealistic expectations. Of course, churches in Europe have been in decline for a long time, whereas we are noticing the decline only within the last couple of generations. There is still a lot of collective grief with which we are not able to deal, or have not been willing to deal.

    As for you, I hope you and your husband have a delightful time horsing around in rectory and parishes.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  3. I very much enjoy reading your blog, and I also know how difficult it is to say some things that you just long to spout off about. I find, even in my blog, that I check what I say, just in case......I can see where life sometimes seems like a merry-go-round, but in time perhaps you will be like dear Mary Poppins and spring off that whirling thing and ride off over the countryside, enjoying the ride. All the best to you and the Rector.

  4. I have followed your blog for some time and watched as your journey has progressed. I think most of us are careful what we write in blogland ... and can see how your anxieties arise. In my NZ life I was friend to a couple of our minister's wife's and because I was detached from the daily occurrences at the church I was treated as a confidante ... a real privilege.
    Swings and roundabouts go nowhere ... round and round is nowhere. As time goes by I hope you find a niche [ride the big wheel:)] and are able to ride the gorgeous horses as depicted in your second photo.

  5. Living in the rectory makes your life very public already and of course your blog can add to this. I would be very sorry to see you stop blogging, but your uncertainty about the wisdom of continuing is completely understandable.

    I know from bitter experience how hard it can be to deal with unrealistic expectations from people who see the church and clergyperson as just another product to be booked to order. Grr! Sometimes the Rector@6 will simply have to tell people that what they want can't be done when they want it. No other minister can officiate in any of his churches without his express permission. Do you have a benefice website? If so this kind of information needs to be prominently displayed there and on church noticeboards to get the message out there. Good luck.

  6. I read this post and the previous one and can see a bit of the joys and the difficulties for you and your husband. I think you two are doing God's work. Best wishes from me in California.

  7. A comment in a blog some two and a half years ago, then unpleasant emails sent a year later have caused an incredible upheaval in our lives. What has been fascinating has been the reactions of members of the congregation as leaving a church I first attended over 50 years ago was akin to having an infectious disease.

    For a long while I didn't wish to attend anywhere, we now attend more than one church, but I am having more and more doubts about the institution of the church, attendance is becoming more of an effort.

    Having said that, please continue to blog, I know it is very difficult to censor ones own writing in case one person is upset.

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comments - the institution can't get better if we all leave I keep telling myself!