Saturday, 7 May 2011

Church peculiarities.

I try not to talk too much about the good old C of E in case it gets me into trouble  but after having read a couple of blogs recently by other priests I am tempted and have today we go!
When the bishop suggested that I be ordained forthwith, he knew my age. I was already over 60. They knew that it was too late to start any courses and so I was put on placement for a year and had the bishop as my tutor.
Following another priest around for a year, filling in for everything that came up, was just about the best training possible. I am still firm friends with that priest. She taught me so much that its impossible to ever give her sufficient thanks.
At this time I was still the secretary of my local church through an interregnum so I ran that for a year as well.
After I was deaconed we had an incumbent appointed who did his best to teach me but his ideas were very different from the previous one. I had a fairly difficult and busy  year before being ordained priest. Soon afterwards I became the curate of the next parish and within a week of the licensing the Rector went off long term sick. I married the church warden and got on with the job...
When he then took early retirement my husband and I ran the parish for a couple of years, with weddings most weekends plus all the other joys of parish work.
By this time I was past 70 and got retired. My usefulness had come to an end. It was a fairly brutal business . at a large meeting the parish were told that as I was over 70 I was no longer able to work. Gasps all round.
 "Thank you for telling them my age"  I managed to make a joke of it but came home feeling let down.
The new incumbent was not yet in place and I continued to work.... even though I now got none of the handouts from the diocese. I did point out that as they did not pay me then talk of retirement was academic if not daft ....but no I was out. At this stage I was then told that I had done what they had priested me for...and given the impression of being a sort of sticking plaster to cover the gaps.
I couldn't help it. I felt very let down and the bunch of flowers from the diocese that marked my retirement did little to make me feel better.
I am now extremely lucky with the incumbent of this parish. He includes me in everything and makes me feel valued in a way that the diocese never has.
During my years as a curate I made huge sums of money for both the diocese and the parish...I have never ever claimed  expenses for anything I've done and never will. I do not cherry pick. I will do all the rotten jobs as well as the good ones.  I do what I do for the love of God and for the church. I count myself as a very lucky woman to have been ordained at all and so realised a calling heard in my teen age years.
That God has found me enough work in my old age is a blessing and I'm grateful for it.
Winifrid Holtby had it right.
God give me work till my life is done.
And life till my work is over.


  1. Good grief you don't take the 'easy way' out do you?
    What a tale. You certainly won't be needing any lessons in humility will you!
    I'm so glad you've 'fallen on your feet' this time. Well done.

  2. Jean,

    Another post which demonstrates that things can work.

    I am 61 and still in the discernment process. I accepted I will not start training until next year, and the forsee 3 years part-time before deaconing. With a further 4 years of curacy. I will be nigh on 70 myself if all of this happens.

    Only God knows how and why the Church sees fit to treat people in the way it does? When I hear stories such as yours, I wonder why I am bothering at all? So despite my better judgement, a small voice inside keeps nagging me to persevere, and it won't be silenced.

    I just hope that I can have the length and type of ministry that you describe. Doing it for the love of God, nothing else will suffice.

  3. I think the answer to why the church does odd things is that it is run almost by committee. One person starts off a process, takes it a little way and then another member of the committee takes it on, or doesn't as the case may be. THats why it seems inconsistent at times I think.