Posts Tagged ‘what happens when a rector leaves’

The Rev Fred is leaving. As soon as he rang my mobile and asked to see me on my lunch break I knew what he was going to say.

He is headed for pastures new, but I feel rather better about it because he’s not forsaking his multi-parish Benefice for another nicer, richer, more interesting one (which would make me feel bad). Instead, he’s becoming a hospital chaplain at our nearest big city hospital. Apparently the more he visited the villages’ sick and dying in hospitals around the region, the more he felt drawn to this sort of work. And I know he’ll be really good at it.

Of course we shall miss Rev Fred and for sure I’m concerned about the Interregnum. But it’s also started me off on the question: why do vicars stop being vicars? I mean hands-on-vicars in parishes like ours?

On the wall of the south aisle is a list of our Rectors dating back five or six centuries. Each incumbent’s stay spans decades until the list reaches the 1960s. But the list of names for the last 40 years is almost half as long as for the last 400 years, with stays of two, four, five or seven years interspersed with lengthy interregna, one of almost two years.

Before everyone jumps up and down, of course I know that the original system of life-time posts in the gift of the landed gentry (or rich Oxbridge College) regularly resulted in a complacent Rector boring the pants off his congregation for 30 years, and no-one could do a damn thing about it. But I’m also sure it equally regularly resulted in a good Rector faithfully serving his community for 30 years in a mutually supportive and happy relationship.

I don’t know of any local Rector/Vicar being in post for more than six or seven years. Is this official Church of England policy, does anyone know?

Or is it that no Rector can cope with the stresses and strains for more than a few years before burning out, as if they were a City trader?

Or is it that care of a country parish is seen as a stepping stone onto greater (better paid?) things within the Diocese, or at the Cathedral? My impression is that there are as many administrators wearing dog collars in our Cathedral city as there are Vicars serving the parishes around it.

Or is it that the stipend is so low that few Rectors can live and raise a family on it? So that they leave for better-paid jobs with more regular hours – such as hospital chaplaincy like the Rev Fred? He tells me his new four-days-a-week contract – plus one weekend a month on call – will pay him the same as a full-time stipend.

Answers on a postcard please?


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