Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Thursday, March 29

Setting her ball rolling

We are meeting the Vicar (not the Curate) on Monday.

This is supposed to be to set the ball rolling with regards to my wife’s call to ordination.

But it’s hard to set this ball rolling without the support of the Curate who is effectively in charge. We are having to go over his head to the Vicar, which is a very poor way to start.

We want to talk about her ordination call, but it will inevitably involve explaining why we don’t have the endorsement of the Curate. But we really don’t want the meeting to slide into a release of our pent up frustrations with him.

Church - the Curate has it in for us

We started at St P’s in July last year, with a definite call from the Lord and a sense that this was a child-friendly church. A new Sunday school being implemented, and a toy area at the back for toddlers and freedom for them to roam during the service.

Mrs, being a pre-school specialist, felt this was exactly the right environment for her to contribute and develop her ministry, and indeed the other mums have been very supportive, as have the other Sunday School leaders and the wardens.

But there is a cloud.

Cue the ‘Jaws’ music….

Enter the Curate. (Our Vicar is shared with another parish and is rarely seen, so the curate acts in practice as our vicar)

It’s largely because of his arrival at the church with three children that the new Sunday school was started.

But …

“We don’t want the parents to sit at the back with the kids because they will feel excluded from the service” (Wrong – the play area at the back enables parents to attend in a relaxed manner – without it they won’t bother turning up)

“The area at the back is a QUIET area” (kids should be seen and not heard??!)

“We only want Sunday school twice a month” – even on 5 week months!

“we want children to be involved in the main service” … but there is nothing child oriented in the way he does them, nothing that makes them feel this is for them. OK, to be fair, he has listened to people in the congregation that want the children to be more involved in services. So when its time to do communion one time, he puts all the items on a low table at the front instead of the usual altar, and calls the children up to kneel next to it, and then proceeds to red the usual liturgy – stopping occasionally to tell them what he is doing, but not toning down the language or making it interesting. By the end there were only two kids still there. I had had to take my daughter away because in boredom she had started to fidget and I had to intervene before her windmill arms sent the whole thing flying.

That was two weeks ago. Last week we took our daughter to another church which has Sunday school every week. I still had to come to St Ps as I was doing the prayers. No acknowledgment of children in the service at all. Fortunately the Mums went to the area at the back and put out the toys Mrs has provided.

This week is Palm Sunday. A perfect opportunity for some waving of palms and shouting of hosanna. “We don’t want them doing something every time” he says.

So on the weeks when there is no formal Sunday School, Mrs decided to take our rather wild daughter out to a back room with some toys during the sermon. Otherwise the sermon would be just a wrestling match trying to get her to sit still and be quiet. She’s only three, and very lively. It would leave us both very stressed. And we want her to like church, not feel that church is where she is suppressed. If they decide when they are three that church is good, then you have some chance, but if at the age of three you turn them off church and get into their heads that it is boring, then you have lost them for life. OK when I was a kid I was made to sit through some pretty dull stuff, and I retained faith. But I think I am an exception. So – we had approval from the wardens to do this, and they would even turn the heating on for her, including in their approval that she would also take out some of the other toddlers if the parents wanted it so that they could appreciate the sermon better – not an official Sunday School or crèche, just one parent helping her friends. But Mr. Curate has instructed that this should stop –“We only do Sunday School on the first and third Sundays”.

Not only that but we heard a rumour from someone else at another church that ‘there is someone trying to do their own thing’ – and in the context the only possible explanation of this is that it was the Curate referring to my wife.

She is not doing ‘her own thing’ – she is doing what she is called to do, fanning into flame the gift that is in her, and doing things which the mums and wardens have expressed their appreciation of. She wants to be part of the team. This doesn’t mean she needs to have every detail checked and approved, and sometimes her initiative needs to be supported and encouraged.

Then there is the matter of the prayers. It was Mrs turn. She spent weeks seeking God, and delivered prayers which many in the congregation thanked her for afterwards. (They don’t thank me for ones I rustle up in an evening). The Curate came to her afterwards and criticized the content of her prayers. We don’t do confession. It’s a baptism - we don’t do church family prayers, only prayers about items in the news that the visitors can relate to”. He has clearly not read the verse that says ‘by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another’. It’s the first time she has done prayers. Why does he have to give her only negative feedback? And as if that was not enough, next time the rota was published, he printed the things he said to her as instructions. Mrs felt totally humiliated.

And I haven’t time to tell you how my wife took Mrs Curate out for coffee as a gesture of friendship, and ended in tears because of Mrs Curate’s negative attitude to her.

Meanwhile my Readership is dead in the water. The deanery reader’s chaplain has written to him saying I should be used more, but nothing ahs happened yet.

Instead, all the things that confirmed to us that we were called to St Ps are being taken away, and we wonder why we bother going there at all. The congregation likes us, but the man in charge has got it in for us.

General Update

So, it is a long time since I have done a proper blog post.

Work has been manic. I have been working on the project which my client will be fined £1million if the project is not completed soon, and my bit of the project has been the axle around which all else turns so everybody has been wanting answers from me NOW. It’s beginning to calm down a bit now as we move from ‘concept’ to ‘definition’.

Family is good. Two kids at university (Oxford and Durham). Two doing A levels, with mixed success. Two at secondary school, bringing home good reports. And one at nursery. Her best friend says she is naughty. She is very bright and intelligent, but does not sit still.

Church. Hmm. This is the big one. I’ll put it in another post.