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Posts Tagged ‘Vicar’s wife job description’

My head is still spinning a bit after this weekend. On Friday an old pal from our Cambridge church turned up on our doorstep wanting a bed for a few nights – he’s on a walking tour of the country. My parents also came to stay and Rocky’s fiancee stopped over Saturday and Sunday nights. So we’ve had a houseful.

So far, so fairly normal – we’re glad that we can accommodate plenty of folk and love to show hospitality. But then the Vicar and I were both busy on Saturday – he on a Bishop’s Quiet Day and I on a Food Hygiene training course. And I was teaching Junior Church on Sunday and obviously it’s a pretty busy day for the Vicar aswell. So that made our schedules seem extra packed. We were very grateful to the grandparents who entertained the Queen, the Joker and the Engineer to soft play and a Chinese buffet whilst the Vicar and I attended our Saturday events.

But besides all the busy-ness, we’ve had some bother with buildings. Firstly, two of the Vicarage windows now have stone holes in them – a small pane in the living room and an enormous pane in the kitchen. Unsupervised primary school age children have been playing a stone-throwing game in the church yard so we think the damage is accidental rather than malicious. Doesn’t stop it being very annoying, though. The kids have now been banned from the church yard until we can work out something with the parents so that games don’t get out of hand and result in the sort of trouble that happened this week. The Vicar’s long-term desire to raise funding for a Families and Community worker gets an extra impetus every time something like this occurs.

And the banning of kids from the church yard now seems like a very wise move indeed after the discovery on Sunday morning of a plaster rose from the church clock face, shattered on the floor by the front door of the church. So the front doors had to be cordoned off and the congregation had to come into church through the North door. That made it extra embarrassing for the latecomers, who came in in full sight of everyone else. Various people have suggested calling the new Bishop of Ebbsfleet to sort things out with the masonry. Failing that we’ll be getting the builders in to ensure that things are safe and noone has the sky falling on their heads on their way into church.

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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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So much to do...

Not a question about whether to watch the election coverage on Twitter or listen on the radio, nor about where to start with the housework (the answer to that, of course, is ‘ANYWHERE. NOW.’), but a question about church.  This Sunday I played the keyboard for 3 of the 4 songs in our morning service. This was a big achievement for me, as I failed Grade 5 piano over 20 years ago and haven’t improved much since.

Thankfully, Happy played flute to give people the tune and the Queen and lovely church member BigVoice sang, so my fumblings weren’t too exposed. Happy found it a little stressful, tho’. He was also leading the first half of the service, so he was hopping up and down from the front to grab his flute after introducing the songs.

This is a typical dilemma for us on a Sunday: who should be doing what? In the last year since we arrived in parish I have prepared after-service refreshments,  operated the sound desk (and played the cds which usualy provide our musical accompaniment), led services, run youth bible studies during the sermon, operated the computer that projects our songs and liturgy and played  the keyboard for songs (this is the latest string to my bow). Almost everything apart from preaching and communion, really. I’m so thankful to be unqualified for those. I’ve not yet helped in the creche or Sunday school either, but not because it’s something I don’t feel able to do.

Obviously I can’t do everything I’m able to every Sunday. But sometimes it feels like I should be, as existing leaders are tired and worn out, or just don’t exist. (Anyone know a pianist who fancies joining a friendly inner city West Midlands church?). Somehow we need to work out what’s important and do that well first, and train others, before moving onto the next thing. So we need wisdom AND patience. As does our congregation, who do so much aswell, not just on Sundays, but throughout the week.

My old friend MacGirl is also a vicar’s wife. She wrote to me the other day about their church, where nearly everyone is over 65 and her husband is slowly trying to bring in the changes needed if the church is to live and grow again.

I can’t be in more than one place at a time…So we are taking decisions we hope carefully and wisely so as not to over commit my time…Our brains run through all kinds of scenarios that we would like to implement, but we can only go at the pace the church can cope with. I’m really learning to be patient.

Patience and wisdom always feel like they are in short supply here in our Vicarage. I’m praying that we grow in both these spiritual fruit as we try to make our Sunday services a place where believers and non-believers alike will feel welcomed, built up and challenged. Phew. At least I’ve not just been appointed to the government. Now there’s a job that’s going to need wisdom and patience (from the rest of us).

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