The Untrendy Vicar

I asked for and I have received feedback from the archdeacon involved as to why I was not invited for an interview for the post of pioneer priest at All Hallows, Leeds.

He simply said, "The parish reps did not feel that there was a sufficient match between your cv and application and their aspirations and needs. I agreed with them."

That's pretty straightforward. Even I cannot find a conspiracy in that. The fact that the decision was primarily that of the church reps means that it wasn't a case of the hierarchy stopping me from getting back to work.

To be honest, I think I understand their unwillingness to consider me for the post. Although I am sure we would have agreed on the inclusivity thing we would more than likely have differed on what we thought a parish church is primarily for. The All Hallows congregation is obviously very much into the doing of social gospel stuff as a community whilst my view is that the church is there for worship, teaching and community. Of course, I preach the social gospel and encourage people to get out there and do it but I see such action in the world as a consequence of what goes on in church rather than as the primary aim of church.

In other words what I am saying, as I have pointed out many times in the past, is that I'm an incredibly boring person and nothing like my reputation might have you believe. All my so called radicalism comes, not from any desire to bring in the new, but from a quite rigid orthodoxy which takes the words of Christ, as reported in the synoptic gospels, and applies them literally. I really do believe all that God is love stuff but I also believe all that Nicene Creed stuff as well. Furthermore, when it comes to worship, I will always put doing it well before freedom of expression, in particular spontaneous freedom of expression. I have a suspicion that the All Hallows congregation would have soon rebelled against the vestiges of "father knows best" that remain just beneath my surface when it comes to liturgical matters.

I am small "c" conservative in the way only an ardent socialist can be (big "C," capitalist, conservatives are always trying to change stuff). I'm into the word more than I am into the song. Basically, I'm a stuffy Church of England cleric who made the mistake of reading the New Testament and believing it but who sees no reason in throwing out the liturgical baby with the bathwater of prejudice, injustice and croneyism which inundates the national church of England at present and which will do so, most likely, for evermore and evermore.

I know I am by no means alone in being this way. My online ministry is mostly accessed by people with very similar views. Unfortunately, such people are widely dispersed in the world and the internet may make it appear that there are more of them out there than they really are. Therefore, finding a congregation which is truly looking for a priest of a similar ilk would appear to be an almost impossible task; spitting in the wind for even a priest in good standing and with the support of bishops. For an ecclesiastical leper like myself it may well be the pursuit of a dream without any hope of it coming true. But better to chase the impossible dream than give into accepting the death of a godless and soul draining reality.


The Untrendy Vicar — 2 Comments

  1. MP,

    How alike we are! I agree that the church should be about grounding, educating and empowering Christians to go out and live the Gospel in the world. And especially the ordained, our job is to nurture, educate and encourage, and not always be burning ourselves out doing all the work.

    It’s too bad for All Hallows. Seems like they may be a bit of a service club, rather than a church, and could use someone (like yourself) to give them a little more grounding, while pushing them in new directions. Unfortunately, they had too much of a fixed idea of what they wanted. Keep looking for a group more open to the workings (and surprises) of the Spirit.