Finding a New Rector
The Parish Profile and Person Specification
We are currently nearing completion of the Parish Profile. This is a document designed to ‘sell’ the Parish to prospective incumbents, so it celebrates all the good things we have been doing; it contains is a lot of information about new initiatives (Fresh Expressions, the new small house groups, the Olive Branch, etc), about our new governance structure, and about special events we have organised.
But the Profile must give as true an account as possible of how we as a Parish are performing. A prospective incumbent does not want to come to a parish where there is nothing for him or her to do. So, rather than mentioning only the good things, we must present ourselves ‘warts and all’, including areas where we still have work to do, or even where we have failed to do anything at all.
So there was a special meeting on 25th February where Anne Taylor and I met with the PCC and Catharine Morris, Parish Development Adviser, to take a critical look at ourselves. At this we identified where we want to get to (the Parish Mission), how we’re going to get there and what is stopping us (Strengths and Struggles), and what we need from our new Rector to help us do it (Describing the Role). This produced a lot of material which has now been included in the Parish Profile under the headings mentioned in brackets.
Now we must define what sort of person is needed to address all the challenges ahead of us. This is where the Rector Questionnaire, which you have all been asked to complete, comes in. All the data you have provided has been collated and will be represented in the Person Specification, which we are now working on. We expect both documents to be completed by Easter.
Once complete, the Parish Profile and Person Specification will be published on the Parish website and the vacancy will be advertised in the Church Times towards the end of April.
Shortlisting of candidates will be done mid-May by the Bishop, the Patrons and the nominated Parish Representatives (one from each church – Joanna Moriarty, Georgina Laverick and me). Then interviewing will take place at the end of May.
If all goes well, we hope to have a new Rector installed in September.
What can I do?
The Parish Profile contains a lot of links to our website where candidates can find more background information, so if you are responsible for any of the information there, please make sure it is accurate and up-to-date.
Finally, please remember to pray for a successful outcome to this process. There are bookmarks available in the churches with a specially written prayer on them to help you. Please use this prayer to ask God to guide all the people involved to ensure we appoint the right person.
Nigel Smith, Parish Representative
How’s Lent been going for you this year? I don’t know whether you have been following any particular Lenten observance or not but in our household we have been using the Christian Aid ‘Count Your Blessings’ booklet that came in the February edition of the Door (the Diocesan newspaper) and a little booklet called ‘Love Life, Live Lent-For Kids’.
For those of you not familiar with it, the ‘Count Your Blessings’ booklet gives a different facet of life for those in the developing world each day followed by some sort of challenge for us to respond to. For example on Thursday 28 February, it stated that ‘Food prices hit the poorest hardest. Between 2011 and 2012, maize prices rose by 174% in Malawi’ (which puts the rising cost of food here in the UK into some sort of perspective , doesn’t it?). We were then encouraged to give 10p for each tin of food in our homes, which as we had just had a shopping delivery soon added up to a reasonable sum of money! Fortunately, not all days are as expensive as the one quoted (!) and sometimes the challenge is simply to pray.
The ‘Love Life, Live Lent – For Kids’ book comes at Lent from a different angle. It’s not primarily about donating money but about undertaking an activity to make the world a better place through being kind to others, making time for quiet and fun, and sharing what we have. For example, being a good neighbour by making time to say hello to them, or doing something different by having a TV/computer game-free day. The latter was quite a challenge for my two children, Elizabeth and Josie!
But Lent is a challenging season for us, is it not? In the words of a prayer by our diocesan bishop, John Pritchard, it’s a time to ‘spring-clean our ways of life, our structures and our priorities’, for God to ‘point out to us the cobwebs, the dirt, the extravagance and the waste’ and to ’create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us’. Being in the desert was a challenging experience for Jesus and so it is for us, however we may have chosen to express that this season. Lent of course will soon give way to Easter but let’s not lose sight of the remaining days of Lent, particularly as we travel through Holy Week together this year. For we cannot truly celebrate the glory of the resurrection unless we journey through the path of suffering and pain that first leads to the cross. Do come and join in the Holy Week services across our parish and so make your celebration of Easter that much richer and more meaningful.
With my best wishes for a very joyful Easter.
So Many Endings
Endings are strange events to live through and this edition of CTM News has its fair share of endings to contemplate: Marion’s sermon on the Mothers’ Union; Graeme’s reflections on his curacy; Jeremy’s thoughts on Lent; and, of course, the impact of my impending move.
Endings itself is a strange word as, theologically speaking, endings do not really happen … or at least they do not happen in a vacuum. So every ending gives way to a new beginning. At least that’s what we say we believe. Even the ending of a group, like the MU, could be said to be the first step in a new direction: to put that another way “when one door closes, another opens”. It’s just that, quite often, it doesn’t feel like that. Endings make us feel sad and miserable, unsettled and disturbed, and even sometimes responsible and guilty.
The ultimate ending on the cross left everyone around Jesus with all those same kind of feelings. From the outside it looked like “The End”; on the inside it felt like “The End”.
But it isn’t ………
Nothing changes, if nothing changes
(An edited version of a sermon preached on Sunday March 3rd 2013 acknowledging the closure of the St Peter’s and St Margaret’s Mothers Union)
All my life I’ve been a keen gardener and this morning’s parable about the fig tree rings so many bells. Any gardener knows the heartbreak of a plant just ‘giving up’ on you and dying however much TLC you give it – its time has come. This morning we are marking the closure of St Peter’s and St Margaret’s Mothers Union- a group that has been faithfully fed and watered by its members for many years.
But a time has come for an ending -a moving on. As with all endings a period of grief needs to follow and after that a time to take stock to look at things differently.
The statement “Change is inevitable; misery is optional” is truer than many of us care to admit. Somehow, we imagine that it is possible to live without change. However, we can no more live and not have change than we can jump without feeling the impact of gravity. Just as gravity will pull you down when you jump- change must happen in life, for to live is to grow; to grow is to change. Any thought that we can avoid change in life is pure illusion. Change is inevitable – change is constant- change is going to happen regardless, the question is how can I cause change to work in my favour. I can try to resist change and try to stay the way I am or release my resistance to change and try something new. “NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES, AND IF I KEEP DOING WHAT I’VE ALWAYS DONE, I’LL KEEP GETTING WHAT I’VE ALWAYS GOT, AND WILL KEEP FEELING WHAT I ALWAYS FELT.”
I think we often treat God and our faith like that, we would like things to change -feel closer to God- feel more comforted in our faith- enrich our prayer life and yet do nothing to bring this about. Often it’s only when something dramatic happens in our life perhaps the death of a loved one that forces us to change. I guess that Dan and Graeme leaving, a new rector appointed will also force us all into some new ways, perhaps with some discomfort at first!
We get stuck in a rut. One of the definitions of a rut is “A fixed, usually boring routine” If you continue to do the same thing in that rut you will stay in that rut. But change can be very threatening, change will bring with it a level of uncertainty and because of that uncertainty sometimes people develop an attitude of fear or worse. Because of this attitude or spirit of fear people sometimes unconsciously and sometimes consciously become ineffective and irrelevant and ultimately die all because they refused to change. It happens with individuals, marriages, businesses, organizations, and unfortunately with our churches. Even the people in Christ’s day who were looking for and expecting the promised Messiah didn’t accept him when he came because he didn’t come the way they expected him to come. Traditions and rituals are effective as long as they are relevant. While truth never changes, times change, people change, situations change, and methods change so when our traditions are no longer relevant, we need to be open to change, for to live is to grow; to grow is to change.
But as Christians we have the greatest tool that there is PRAYER -when you pray expect change to take place. Jesus told us SO many times to pray to the Father—ask and it WILL be given to you!
Things change, people change, circumstances change, conditions change, but TRUTH remains the same. God’s word never changes.
So I know that it is with great regret that the Mothers’ Union in the two churches will close- but the essence of it will carry on in its members who I hope will find homes elsewhere.
I want to finish by praying that very well known prayer that I expect we have all prayed at some time during our lives.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” He will make all things right if I trust Him and surrender to His will. Amen.
That strange beast … The Curacy
We first moved into St Peter’s Avenue in the middle of June 2010, awaiting ordination and the start of my ministry in the Church of England. Just under three years later, we are, once more, getting quotes from removal companies. That’s the way of curacies; sneeze, and you’ve missed it. This move comes at the end of no less than nine moves in 12 years; and we have no intention of moving again for quite some time. Whilst ‘home’ has been wherever we have laid our collection of hats over the last decade; our next home will be where we decorate.
A curacy is a strange beast: it is understood that it will be short, and so the house never feels quite like a home. Having said that, however, we do feel at home in Caversham. Certain dog walks have become part of the daily routine, car and walking journeys can now be carried out blindfolded, and some of the residents of our street have become quite used to seeing the Curate run down the road for prayers as the clock reminds him of his tardiness. The temporary nature of it all, though, is always in the corner of one’s mind; no matter how ‘at home’ a curate and his family might feel, they can never quite allow themselves to settle. The purpose of the job is to leave.
It is really too early to know what I take with me, as I leave this place. I can say, though, that this Parish has been a place of nurture: people who have encouraged and challenged me, projects and tasks that have stretched me, worship that has stirred my mind and soul. I do not leave this place as I arrived; and for that, I am grateful to you all.
And what of the next step? St Luke’s and St Bartholomew’s are two Churches that have managed to develop their Catholic heritage with an unfussy and informal character. They are in an area of East Reading which is enormously diverse, and their congregations reflect this. My role as Priest in Charge will be to continue to develop that Parish with worship and welcome that complement and enrich one another, and to lead the Churches further into their vocation. Much of what I have learned in Caversham and Mapledurham will form the way I work with the folk of that Parish, as we seek to grow in faith.
Do pray for my family and I, as we pray for you, perhaps using these wonderful words form a twentieth century hymn:
Give us to know your truth; but more, the strength to do your will;
until the love our souls adore shall all our being fill. (A.F. Bayly)