Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: WITH Francis Wood

ALL CHANGE This is the most popular time for vicars and ministers to move on to new pastures. And it's a known fact that many vicars have a hard time taking over a new parish.

Often I'd heard, "You know, my parish has particular problems." But what are the facts? The first fact is that church people like continuity and much depends on why the former vicar left. If he's been sent to jail it's easy. The next incumbent will surely be better than the last one.

Perhaps the vicar just got too old for the job? In that case, the people will look to the new man (or woman) for new life in the parish. Some Free Churches hold preaching competitions when prospective ministers are invited to give a sermon to the people who then take a vote. This has never been the tradition in the Church of England. The bishop appoints, for better or worse.

As they look forward to the coming of their new minister, the hopes of local church folk will fall into two groups. The first group hopes for some one who will lead from the front. They'd like a man or woman to stand up and call to the tribe, "This is the way. Follow me everyone." The nice thing about that kind of minister is that, when things go wrong then members of the church will have someone to blame. The second group prefers that everything should be put to the vote before action is taken. The result is sluggishness and endless meetings. The ideal candidate for the job will be found somewhere between the two.

The church is not a democracy. In the Church of England the vicar has full authority. At his institution he receives the "cure of souls" in the parish but he's not likely to make progress without cooperation between himself and those he has been sent to cure. The one big question then is "What is he going to change?" That challenges his wisdom and the understanding of those in the parish. …

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