Saturday, 1 May 1999

Why don’t vicars look out of their windows in the morning?

Because they’d have nothing to do in the afternoon.

The biography of a Welsh clergyman, who remained in one parish most of his life, told of a working day that always followed the same pattern: Mornings in the study (with a cosy fire in the grate) reading, meditating, and preparing the Sunday sermon.  After a hearty lunch the afternoon was spent walking the fells and communing with God through nature.  In the evening he would visit a few of his parishioners and enjoy a drink and a chat. (I’m still trying to find the parish!)

Apparently, in the year 1700 there was 1 cleric for every 100 of the population!  Today in Worsbrough Dale there is one cleric for some 8,000 people.  It is often said, however, that people’s expectations of the level of ministry their vicar can offer have changed very little.  Ministry these days tends to be rather more diverse and pressured than the example above.

Since 10th November I have done 14 baptisms, 37 funerals 3 internments of ashes and 1 Wedding: hardly a snappy title for a film but that’s the way it is.  For each of those services I make it a priority to try and see the families beforehand.  I have visited all 5 of the schools in the parish and have done 8 assemblies and 2 lessons to date, as well as hosting one school visit to Church: This is an area of work I would like to develop further.  I’ve visited 4 homes for the elderly and been round once with Jeanne and Ivy when they take communion.  I do have to do a lot of work in my study preparing for services and meetings, doing various administrative tasks, and thinking (I do stare out of the window occasionally, but usually not idly).  There are lots of one off things and bits and pieces: meetings the architect, hosting a Diocesan Advisory Committee visit, going on a week long jaunt to Bridlington (diocesan conference!), moving furniture in Church (!) etc etc.  There is the regular round of Sunday services, PCC, Standing Committee, Vestry Hour, Deanery Chapter, Parish Magazine and so on.  And gradually I’ve been trying to visit and get to know people in the parish and find out what’s going on here and round about.  It’s certainly not a boring job.  I hope I’m never one to moan about being overworked – I do believe in giving top priority to time off for recreation and relaxation – but contrary to the old joke it’s not a one-day-a-week job!  (Honest).