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Archive for the ‘Vicar’s wife job description’ Category

A lovely parishioner visited me yesterday and brought a bunch of flowers, knowing that I’d had a pretty stressful few days. Sometimes being the Vicar’s wife can feel lonely. You’re in a weird situation that not many people understand and people keep on calling at your front door asking the Vicar to mend their bikes (amongst other things last night). So when someone from our congregation thinks of me and lets me know they’ve been thinking of me, it really warms my heart. A little encouragement goes a long way and helps me to persevere.

And then a Vicar’s wife friend on Facebook asked for some help in drafting a talk on ‘Five Ways to Encourage a Minister’s Wife’ (she’s not just speaking to Anglicans). There were lots of great ideas there – and they’ve inspired me to write my five:

  1. Treat the Vicar’s wife as a real person, a normal member of the church family. Don’t give her too many messages for the Vicar as she’ll feel horribly guilty when she forgets.
  2. Be a pew buddy – sit with her on a Sunday morning – if she has kids give her a hand with them.
  3. Let her know if you’ve been thinking of her or praying for her (maybe in writing).
  4. Make sure she regularly gets on the Minister’s Wives conference, or a retreat, or something spiritually refreshing, and try to ensure she gets enough time with her husband.
  5. Flowers, wine and chocolate, obviously, or even an invitation to Sunday lunch for the whole family.

Many of these things would encourage any church member, but I’ve tried to highlight some of the things I’ve found especially encouraging myself. What do you think?

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One of the things I love about Vicarage life is its unpredictability. Most of the time this is great fun – I love my morning to be interrupted by someone wanting to chat at the kitchen table, especially when there is housework to be done. But I have to confess that I find it a bit of a challenge when our Sunday evening is disturbed.

Sundays are obviously a busy day for us – the Vicar almost always preaches at all three services in our church and is often leading at a couple of them. We often have church family members over for lunch aswell, and sometimes an afternoon group for baptism preparation or something like that. So when we get to 8pm(ish) and the evening service is finished, the church locked up and the Vicar and Rocky returned to the Vicarage and the children all put to bed (though sadly not necessarily asleep now they’re a bit older) we like to be able to chat a bit, pray a bit, watch some undemanding telly, eat cheese and biscuits and drink a glass of red wine.

Our waif had a better haircut

But this week our usual routine was upset by a waif and stray with a bizarre story. Waif had come to the Vicarage at about 4pm wanting to speak to the Vicar. As our lunch guests were still here, the Vicar told him to come along to the evening service so they could chat then. And then after the service, Waif’s tale of woe came out. It involved ferries from Ireland, cash paid for tickets to the Man U-Barcelona Champions League final, B&Bs in random locations and strange train jouneys, culminating in Waif being in our parish on a Sunday evening with no money, no phone, no means of identification and needing a bed for the night.

His tale was so unbelievable, it might possibly have been true, but the main fact was that he needed somewhere to stay and was asking for our help.  I supplied the regulation cheese rolls and then we talked about accommodation. Although we have space here, accommodating complete strangers does not seem to be a wise undertaking. There is no homeless hostel in our town and not much of a chance of space being available in the Sally Army hostel in Birmingham. So in the end, the Vicar’s discretionary fund came into action. The Vicar drove him to a nearby pub with rooms, where he obtained B&B for Waif for a bargain £25.

And that was it. The Vicar returned to the Vicarage at 10pm and we ate late, went to bed late, and struggled to get started on Monday morning. All part of this strange and unpredictable life we have been called to, where the limits of our hospitality are regularly stretched. I think the Lord knew I needed a bit of a break after that though – on Monday morning we had two callers who sat drinking coffee with me so I could skive off the housework.

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A short tale from a recent Sunday at the Vicarage:

The Vicar was in the kitchen, talking to a weeping parishioner who was in some emotional turmoil. We were waiting for our pal Nerd to come and join us for lunch. I guess it was about 1.30pm.

I had a text from my local friend Peacock, who told me that two men were coming over to my house. Hmm. Not sure why she texted me that, I thought. Then the doorbell rang.

Need a lift? Call the Vicar!

There was an obviously drunk chap at the door. He’s been round before, asking for food or train fares. Swaying a little, he asked me if the Vicar was available. ‘No, he’s in a meeting,’ I replied. ‘Can he give us a lift to Birmingham?’ he said.

‘Errrr. Well, we’re about to have lunch, so I don’t think so.’ And off he toddled. The things people expect vicars to do…

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Earlier this week Fiona left a comment on my post about Ten Great Things About Being a Vicar’s Wife. She is looking for advice as her husband begins ministry later this year. Here’s what she asked:

It quite hard as I just would like to to my very best. I have two children and its a second marriage
I totally adore and love him and we all want to support him .
Perhaps if someone was in the same sistuation it would be a great help for ideas and suggestions.

I’m going to give my list of top ten tips below, but it would be great if others could add to the list too. I’m not claiming to speak with much authority, having only been a ‘proper’ Vicar’s Wife for just over a year, but this is what has helped me to date…

  1. Keep your own relationship with God going – you may have to be creative (on-line sermons, prayer partners, conferences, retreats, support groups).
  2. Prioritise your family above the parish. Keep on loving and supporting your husband.
  3. Say ‘no’ more than you think you should – you can’t do everything. Better to do a little in church well than everything badly. Or do nothing apart from being a godly wife and mother.
  4. Don’t throw yourself into everything when you first arrive – take time to choose the best. Try to do something together – we love having people over – Sunday lunches, barbeques barbecues, tea parties.
  5. Play to your strengths and don’t feel the need to conform to a stereotype of the perfect minister’s wife. So don’t bake if you can’t bear it, buy some nice biscuits. Avoid children if they stress you, visit kind old ladies. Don’t arrange the flowers, use your best hammer drill to put shelves up.
  6. Make sure (as far as possible) that your husband has support from accountability partners or a spiritual director. And help him to prioritise his day off. If you’re able, take that day off with him.
  7. If you live in a Vicarage or Manse, be ruthless with junk mail in the early days. Send it all back with ‘remove from mailing list’ on it or phone organisations up if you don’t want their stuff. Ecclesiastical junk mail has been the bane of my life in the last year and a bit. I mean, how many catalogues for chasubles does an evangelical minster need?! Especially one who wears robes about once a year. In the UK the Mailing Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service are your friends.
  8. Take time to laugh. We watch a lot of tv comedy. It helps.
  9. Don’t answer the phone every time it rings. Call screening and an answerphone are very helpful.
  10. Take proper holidays away from the parish. We have nearly three weeks in the summer (plus three other weeks the rest of the year) and find that we need that length of time to properly unwind.

What are others’ top tips? What have you learnt about doing your best?

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I only wear my pinny for special occasions

Inspired by Steve Tilley’s list of reasons to be married to a priest I thought I’d add a Vicar’s wife’s perspective. We’ve not watched the offending episode of Rev yet – we were interrupted before viewing on iPlayer by the Vicar’s diocesan golf team partner arriving to stay over so that he and the Vicar could get an early start off to their tournament today.

Anyway, I love being a Vicar’s wife, and here are some of the reasons why:

  1. I have a husband who is serious about loving me as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5v25).
  2. We get to work as a team in all sorts of ways (hospitality, church strategy, cleaning the churchyard…)
  3. My husband is around to take kids to and from school, take them swimming and eat with the family most nights.
  4. He’s involved with the kids’ primary school and knows their teachers better than I do.
  5. I love it that he has lunch with me most days.
  6. He has to chop logs outside my kitchen window to get the fuel we need to heat our Vicarage. This is a very good view when I am washing up.
  7. He reads parenting books and works hard to help our children to grow up as believers and not to be wild and disobedient.
  8. His job comes with a huge home which is great for hospitality, even if it is a deep freeze come January.
  9. Parish life is never, ever dull.
  10. And finally, as I was told in a seminar on a Vicar’s wives conference once: ‘The advantages of midweek daytime sex cannot be overstated’.

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One day earlier this week saw me strolling up to tow-un (you have to use the Black Country pronounciation, or it’s just not right) just before lunch. The Vicar had run out of printer paper. Both he & Happy needed some and they had others coming over for a meeting an hour later.

So, seeing the sunshine, I offered to head into Wilkinsons for their very cheap paper. Happy needed his paper to print out parts of his application form for a BAP. For those of you who are not up with all the Anglican jargon, a BAP is a Bishop’s Advisory Panel also often called a selection conference. None the wiser? Well, it’s a two day roasting interview where candidates for ordained ministry for the Church of England are put through their paces. Happy has one coming up in July and needs to get his forms in soon.

He has been away house-sitting for a few days in order to think through his forms and fill them out in peace. The Vicarage is not the best place to be if you want silence to work. Especially not on Sunday when local kids were availing themselves of the tap in our outside loo to fill up water pistols, bottles and buckets for a monster water fight that went on all afternoon on our street, accompanied by raucous squealing.  So Happy came over for this meeting, some lunch and to print out his forms. And for proofreading, which I love to do. I can usually spot a spelling or grammatical error at 50 paces. Although not always on the blog. Sorry.

We need it!

The forms are still a work in progress, but we’re very pleased to be supporting Happy through this process. God (and the CofE) willing, it will mean that Happy goes off to training in September. So we’re praying for someone equally servant hearted and easy-going to come and live with us and serve in our church next year. It’s a great way to explore if ordained ministry is for you, and our diocese are very supportive of the scheme. You can check out the ad on the Vicar’s blog.

If there’s anyone you know who might be interested (they don’t have to be considering ordination, just be keen to have a year or two in church ministry) do please refer them to us! I don’t promise to do their ironing, but they can have homemade cake on a very regular basis…

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The Rector’s Wife is a regular commentator on this blog, and recently she made an aside remark about her experiences collecting charity envelopes which made me want to find out more! I asked her to send me the whole story so I could share it with you…

You know how when you knock on someone’s door, then you sometimes see a little face peeping out through the window to see who is there?  Well there I am, knocking on doors to collect Christian Aid envelopes, and I see the vertical blinds at the window twitch and there’s a little monkey.  First of all I think it’s a toy but then I look a the arms pulling back the blinds and I think – hey it is a real monkey!

Fortunately for my sanity my 8 year old, Thomas, was with me, and a boy he knew from school was playing on the street and chatting to Thomas, and it turned out he lived next door.

So I asked the boy if there was a monkey living at the house – and he said yes, also two porcupines, a snake, a pig… and I think there were some others.  Apparently they own a pet shop.

Strangely Thomas wasn’t bothered about the monkey, but he thought it was pretty yuck that they had a pig!  But at least he could confirm to my husband that I really had seen a monkey (unlike the camel in a field story, when the Rector didn’t believe me for weeks until he saw it himself, but that’s another story, not related to churches or vicars or anything like that!).

I also discovered that one of the houses down the road has a fire engine in the front garden.  Which I had never noticed before (although to be fair the house is tucked away in the corner, with high hedges.)

So there you have it – the joys of collecting. And maybe an interesting incentive for visiting the parish door to door. Not seen any monkeys around here though. Plenty of Staffies, yes, but definitely no monkeys. Or fire engines, come to think of it.

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