Vicar/Reader's Monthly Message
What Does a Vicar Do?
People wonder what a vicar does day to day. Most of you see me on a Sunday morning as the person at the front of the church, dressed in a white robe and a coloured stole, who tells you how much God etc. I am the person who then stands near the door and says goodbye, and, if I have the chance, sits and drinks coffee with you. There are times when people need to talk and pray as well. I am the priest who will baptise children, pouring water over their heads; I hope that the water won’t be too cold by that point. I see families for an initial meeting and our Reader Ron sees the family with Godparents.
I am the vicar who will conduct weddings and who will guide couples as gently as possible through their vows after walking through the journey of preparation, marriage guidance and the rehearsal. I need to make sure I have everything for the wedding itself and the wedding document is prepared before I can invite them to kiss one another for the photos. I then have to take the wedding document to the Registrar or George does for me– I am also the priest who will come and see you when you have lost your loved one in order to arrange the funeral, prepare for it and who will then officiate at it. Occasionally I get called out to be there and say some prayers at the end of life.
But I do a whole load of other things too! I sit through meetings of the church council, where we discuss all kinds of things, money and buildings, and I go to lots of other meetings too, such as Clergy Chapter, Parish Development, Deanery Synod, Diocesan Synod, New Brighton Coastal Committee, Remembrance Committee, Restoration Committee, and Deliverance Team Meeting to mention some. Yes, there are more! Every three years clergy go away all together for 4 days at Swanwick. In Derbyshire. The last time was in May.
Meetings had to be done on zoom during covid but now they can take place in person again.
Over the course of an average week, in addition to the people who come for church services, I meet all sorts of people: People in the parish whilst out and about, people in their homes for a pastoral visit and Home Communion, or for a church meeting, those who may knock on the door or ring out of the blue for help or those I meet on WhatsApp for a prayer meeting.
Then there are the community groups which I may be invited to occasionally e.g.to give a talk at them, or a visit to the uniformed organisations, and in December we had Mount Primary in church for a lesson. Our own Tots group have a little service at key times of year and I have been known to make pancakes. Before Covid, assemblies at New Brighton Primary happened at special times of year but had to be done three times to accommodate the whole school. This is something which needs to be developed again, now that the children can meet together in a big group.
During school holidays before Covid, we held Fun Food and Friendship sessions: a lighter version of Messy Church. Food has been delivered or collected since; thus, children’s work needs to take off again. In all of these things, bringing faith into a conversation is part and parcel.
All priests are expected to have a quiet time of prayer and Bible reading, go on quiet days and retreats plus put a reading day in the diary every so often.
Church evenings can include fortnightly Housegroup, Ladies Fellowship, youth group, choir, seeing a wedding couple or baptism family, other meetings or family time. Lent courses and Alpha or any social evening which may happen. Then there are the church fairs which usually happen on my day off.
All Sunday services, funerals, baptisms, weddings,
housegroups etc do require preparation time, in terms of reading, writing, choosing hymns and technology, such as loading up of slides for Emmanuel and All age, which may need new slides creating and then there is the editing of filmed services.
Also, there are other reports and forms to fill in, which happens occasionally or a reference which someone needs writing, not to mention the emails I answer every day and if the phone rings asking for help or needing to see the Vicar with a problem or book a wedding/ baptism/thanksgiving. Conversations take place with Sue Chadwick our secretary, readers, those exploring ministry such as Fred who will have various tasks he needs to work through.
That would all be pretty standard for the vicar of a busy parish. Most vicars are full time, and some often have specialist areas of interest. For me that’s deliverance ministry.
Deliverance ministers are experienced priests who are trained and given special permission to deal with the paranormal, but other things come into it as well such as mental health and people going through difficult things.
We call what we do ‘deliverance ministry’ because we believe that what we are doing is delivering them from whatever it is that is afflicting them, although often the solution isn’t what they thought. I do have a black bag that I take round with me – when I arrive to talk to people about whatever is happening in their lives. Each Anglican diocese has a team of people like me who act as consultants when they are needed, to go out with local vicars to deal with cases that come in, and report back to the convenor. Bishop Sam is now part of the group who has replaced Bishop Keith. We work closely with the Safeguarding Officer, a psychiatrist and the Diocesan Counsellor.
We are specifically recruited by the bishop who oversees the diocese, and we conduct this ministry in the bishop’s name and with the bishop’s permission. This means that we are also covered by their insurance. That also means if you do this ministry without the deliverance teams’ knowledge, a priest is not covered by insurance. We are not to go alone and are required to be gender sensitive. Months can go without any cases coming in, and then we will be called out three or four times in as many weeks. Despite the fact that there is a huge amount of public interest, the whole field of deliverance ministry is a quiet and confidential one; people can be surprised when they discover that there are deliverance Advisors in the Anglican Church. Sometimes during this role, we put on training days for curates or visit clergy chapters to do some training of other clergy.
As you can see things were full on in Lent and this remained so until I went on holiday to Croatia. In this week in June, there was more space. I wasn’t preaching on the Sunday which allowed for more pastoral work and to see a friend and have more family time. This all gets squeezed out when things get really busy. I’m meant to spend 50% time in the community and 50% time with church. Hence, I need to rely on church family to join in with pastoral care which they do on behalf of us all as the church. In these two weeks, wider diocesan meetings were more apparent. Funerals and preparation were the community aspect. The rest was church and the quiet day which clergy are expected to go on, I shared with you.