For now

29 06 2010

I’ve decided to pause on the blogging till after the summer. Partly, because I’ve got a very hectic summer coming up; I’m working in Ghana, taking a wedding in Ireland, speaking at Greenbelt and moving house!!! But also because I have so much going on in my head that I’m struggling to crystallise it in written form (a common problem for a dyslexic!). So I’ve decided to give myself July and August off and return in September.

Have a good summer!

To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity…. not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide.

From Rilke, Rainer Maria and Herter Norton M.D. (trs) (1954) Letters to a Young Poet


Home Alone [part 1]

19 06 2010

It’s been a while since I last blogged. I hope it becomes clear why that has been.

I think it’s important to say, from the outset, that this is not a criticism of the leadership and decision makers of either my Methodist District (Chester and Stoke) or Venture FX. Both have been hugely supportive of my recent ‘adventures’!

The narrative

Within the Methodist Church an ordained Methodist minister is ‘housed’ by the church. This means that as an ordained minister I am paid a healthy salary (we call it a stipend) but it is not enough to really afford a mortgage. In fairness, the stipend is not really seen as a ‘salary’ (a fair wage for work done) but rather as a gift in order that the minister has enough money so as not to worry about financial issues. This means that each Methodist Circuit (a group of Methodist churches) has a stock of houses in which to house their ministers. The basic outcome is – you’re not paid much, but you don’t have to worry much! The church gives you enough money to get by and a decent house to live in. In reality that is not always the case; some circuits do not look after their manses properly leaving ministers living in inadequate conditions and for many ministers who have large families the ‘stipend’ barely covers the basic costs of living – let alone any luxuries. (equally many single ministers have to pay huge utility bills for large houses that they rattle around in). It is reasonable to say that most ministers don’t come into this vocation for the money, so there are few complaints from the ordained.

The issue.

However, this relationship between ordained minister and institutional church came into sharp focus for me over the last few weeks. The question is simple: If a minister is expected to live in a house provided by the church, and if a minister does not earn enough to acquire a mortgage, and if all the houses are owned by Circuits – where does an ordained minister live when she still works for the Methodist Church but not for a circuit?

The answer, you might think, is simple. The church rents a house from a private landlord! However, when a company wants to rent a property the agent does a credit check on the company to ensure that they can pay – but they cannot do a credit check on a charity. In fact, after speaking to the credit referencing agency, legal bods in the Methodist Church, and the charity commission there seems to be no recognised legal system for The Church (or any charity as far as I can tell) to rent accommodation for an employee.

The Solution.

In the end – I managed to get the agent and the landlady to agree to the unusual conditions and all seems to be well. I did something I’m not entirely proud of – I turned up to a viewing wearing my dog collar. I was desperate and hoped that the clerical wear might carry a bit of weight. When I arrived at the house the agent and landlady were present. As soon as the landlady saw me she waved her key ring at me with a cross on it. She explained that she was a worshipper at a local Baptist Church. I explained to her my predicament and the agent phoned me the next day to tell me the landlady had agreed to the church renting the property without the usual checks and forms. My District Chair (similar to a Bishop) wrote a letter to the agents to ensure them that we had sufficient funds to pay the rent, council tax and water rates.

All is well

But it has raised many issues that I’d like to reflect on in future posts.

Keep reading ….

%d bloggers like this: