Being in a multi parish benefice means that we have an army of church wardens! One of the things that I have observed is that Church wardens become too controlling and defensive of their position; they find it very difficult to involve others in the work of the church. Basically they want to do everything! Sadly they have all become a bit too long in the tooth and are no longer able to serve effectively. I find it all very comical because in a multi parish like ours we have very gifted people. They can very easily do tasks that does not require the churchwardens input.
Furthermore, there are others in the congregation who are ready to become church wardens. The pandemic has meant that there are newly retired people who have moved to our villages and are wanting to be more involved in the churches but in order for that to happen the current church wardens need to give way!!!!
The Mhinisteir works mostly from home but he is also out and about conducting services, meetings, house visits among many other things. However unless he is away from his parishes, he always has lunch with me. In the Vicarage, meal times are sacred! We are firmly of the view that what you put in your body is very important and that having proper meals helps one to be effective and productive. Oh by the way, I am solely in charge of these said meals!
We tend to exchange news during meal times as it is usually the only times during the day that I see the Mhinisteir; he is usually holed up in his study busy working or in zoom meetings so I avoid his study or should I say avoid him!
A few weeks ago during lunch, he told me that his morning was totally wasted. When I enquired further, I realised that a stone mason had sneakily put in a headstone in one of the churchyards without permission! In the Church of England, there is a proper procedure in place for stonemasons to adhere to before they erect a headstone on behalf of the deceased family. The first step is for the stonemason to put in an application with all the necessary information like the type of stone, the colour of the stone, the inscription etc. Application will be rejected if the stone is not the approved colour or type etc; the inscription is equally important. You may think that all this a bit over the top but it is not so because as it is the Church yard, it must meet with the religious requirements.
Unfortunately, the stonemason had not done any of this and started telling porkies. He was proving too powerful for both the church administrator and the church warden and so the Mhinisteir had to get involved together with the Diocesan solicitors! I am sure it was the last resort as involving the diocesan solicitors meant more work for the Mhinisteir!
Sadly, it is not just the stonemasons who are slippery, funeral directors are just as bad. They seem to prey on bereaved families when these families are at their lowest.
For some unexplainable reason, I have started going to the earlier service on Sundays.
However, this Sunday past, I unexpectedly attended the later service; very soon after I entered church, I realised that the churchwarden who was at the door was full of the cold; I was horrified. The horror soon turned to anger! I hasten to add that I am not proud of myself! I was just so annoyed that some people can be so irresponsible!!!! Needless to say that this churchwarden was coughing and spluttering throughout the service.
As I wrote previously, most people in the UK have started operating like as if Covid19 has mysteriously disappeared. I wish that is the case but it is far from the truth; Covid19 is still very much with us and continuing to consume lives on a daily basis.
I always look forward to going to church on a Sunday but sadly not this weekend. I am nervous. Very nervous. Since freedom day, things have gone awry. Covid cases are going up and up. Among other chaos, shops and supermarkets are struggling to keep the stores open.
For myself, I am just not ready to be without a mask or have someone sit immediately next to me in Church or anywhere for that matter. I am also nervous for the Mhinisteir. He has a wedding tomorrow and I dread to think how folk will behave.
The disappointing thing is that among the folk in our umpteen parishes, I am among a very tiny minority who feels this way! The rest are clamouring for the full works including singing without masks!
One of my frustrations as a church goer is the total lack of respect displayed by visitors to our churches. This becomes very obvious when we have baptisms, weddings and even funerals. For some strange reason, these visitors feel that they can behave however they want in the church.
These days people appear to have a lot of respect for other religious institutions but none for the church! ALL religious institutions should be treated with respect. Period.
I recall an incident involving an octogenarian parishioner. She had arrived in church one Sunday but the moment she realised it was a baptism service, she demanded to be driven back home! Her behaviour might have seemed extreme to some people but I do sympathise with her. I was a visitor to that church myself and I was appalled by the behaviour of the friends and relatives of the baby who was being baptised. The church had successfully been turned into a market place by endless noisy chatter. The visitors outfits were more suited for the beach. It was intimated that due to safeguarding rules no photos were to be taken during the service but that didn’t stop some from clicking away. The Vicar unashamedly said that he was going to rush through the service so that the baptismal family can begin their party at the pub next door. What about us? The ordinary church goers who go to church to worship God.
These visitors often leave a lot of rubbish (used tissues, sweetie wrappers etc) behind after the services too. Our church wardens are volunteers and it is so unfair to them.
The Mhinisteir was on was supposed to be on holiday the whole of last week. We were not going anywhere but it was to be a week of rest for both the mind and body especially for the Mhinisteir.
On that Sunday before the holiday, the church wardens and others involved in the work of the church wished him a good holiday and reminded him to have a complete break. Someone even asked me to unhook the telephone!
Fast forward to Sunday evening, the same people were bombarding him with unimportant emails.
On Monday morning, a church warden telephoned him. When the Mhinisteir reminded her that he was on holiday, her reply was “Yes, I know. I was hoping to leave a message on your answering machine!”
In the middle of the week, a church warden appeared at the door looking for the Mhinisteir. This person needed to send some documents to the Diocesan office. These were documents that this person had been sitting on for weeks!
We are just about to come to the end to the first week of January 2021. Boy, it has been eventful week.
It started with the announcement of the 3rd lockdown in England. Since then the Mhinisteir has been having to deal with conflicting instructions from the Church of England(COE) with regards to keeping the Church open. Unfortunately, these conflicting instructions have caused unnecessary alarm to our Church wardens and he has had to spend a lot of time on the phone trying to calm them down. I wish that people in the COE who are in positions of authority realise that one size doesn’t fit all. What works for the city churches DOESN’T work in rural churches! Many in our parishes do not have internet access.
We heard of two deaths in our parishes. One a premature death as a result of Covid.
This morning, we heard that a friend is in hospital after being involved in a serious road accident. She was a pedestrian.
In the Church of England, clergy are required to take a week’s holiday immediately after Christmas to make up for a very busy December.
This year, the Mhinisteir and I were due to go away for a week but because we have been moved to Tier 4, this is not possible, plan B is to holiday at home. Fat chance!
On Boxing Day, there was an Almighty panic among the Church wardens about the new Tier 4 rules which resulted in phone calls and emails.
On Sunday, the Mhinsteir had to do services because there was no one else. Our Curate is away for their well deserved break. Life as a Curate is very cushy as there are very few responsibilities.
Today there were more panic phone calls and emails from the Church Wardens! There are a good few in our parishes who are in hospital or have received devastating diagnosis so they are desperate for spiritual assistance.
This is the calling that the Mhinisteir chose all those years ago and being married to him means it becomes my way of life too so there is no room for complaints.
We hardly see the sun these days. It has been raining every single day and today is no different. Until yesterday, it was all foggy and the rain started again first thing this morning.
I must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning as things have not been going terribly well for me today!
The door bell rang even before we got out of bed. That is never a good sign. Officially the Mhinisteir is on holiday. Unofficially, he has been catching up on his work. This is one of the disadvantages of a multi parish benefice. The Vicar has so many churches, church wardens and parishioners to care for. Recently, a numpty commented that with the lockdown, the Mhinisteir will get a whole month off!!! Dream on pal!!!!
We have to get out of the Vicarage for a proper break. With the lockdown, we have had to cancel our self-catering cottage and holiday at home! Before lunch time, the door bell rang again and it was the same person. A Church warden. I later learned from the Mhinisteir that it was nothing important at all!
Also this morning, I had a serious disagreement with a family member over Maradona! Honestly, who gets into a disagreement over Maradona???
On the plus side, I have managed to finish all the ironing. With the absence of our cleaner, I have also successfully changed the sheets. Thankfully she is resuming her duties next week!
One of the top stories this week was that the DOMESTIC GODDESS herself has spoken ill of Sourdough bread in favour of the humble white slice from a sandwich loaf. Regretfully, I am not a fan of all three!
Recently, we bumped into one of our many church wardens(CW) in the Village. He was in conversation with another villager whom we have never met before. The CW quickly introduced us to this other villager. Soon we realised that he was the village baker, just that we didn’t know that there was a baker in our village. Unfortunately for us, the baker only bakes Sourdough bread and he doesn’t accept payment! Mmmm…..that was that or so I thought.
A few days later, we found half a loaf of sourdough bread with a note on the Vicarage doorstep. It was from the CW. The baker had baked him a fresh loaf and the CW decided to share it with us. How very kind!
Sadly, the Mhinister didn’t like the taste of Sourdough bread and I couldn’t help him either.
A week later, there was more sourdough bread on our doorstep. Oh dear!
It was only when the Mhinisteir rang to thank the CW that he discovered that the CW too was struggling with the Sourdough bread as he didn’t like the taste of it but as it is the rule in the country he didn’t say anything to the baker and kept receiving the Sourdough loaf!!!!