When a parish becomes vacant in Durham Diocese, only clergy in the diocese are allowed to apply for the job. If nobody in the diocese will touch it with a barge poll they allow outside applicants to go for it.

Before Christmas they advertised a parish post in Hartlepool on the diocesan website clearly stating that the job was open to outside candidates. The reason it had to be offered to outsiders was that although the church council had voted to allow women priests to preside at the eucharist, they had also voted not to allow women priests to become their vicar.

I could have lived with that and hopefully would have changed their views if I had got the job. So, I researched the post and then spent the usual couple of hours or so putting my application together.

That was a month or so ago. This evening I received this email:

I really don't think I will be able to carry on much longer.

It is becoming patently obvious that I will never be a priest again. Mrs MP decided this months ago and has been telling me so regularly. My choice now is whether or not life is worth living if the purpose of my life has been taken from me. I can, as I have said before, see nothing ahead of me worth sticking around for. I'm not saying this out of depression (I have never had suicidal thoughts), it's just a matter of cold logic. The Church  is treating me as if I have no worth as a human being and, perhaps, they are right.



  1. How very incestuous of them.

    Do not despair – you wouldn’t want to work for them anyway, would you? They will disappear down their own plug-hole soon at that rate.

    Presumably, in the unlikely event that the sun comes out over Hartlepool that will change the vacancy again…. and so on until they place whomsoever it was they wanted there in the first place.

  2. I would work for anyone rather than continuing trying to survive on £65.00 a week waiting for my wife to get pissed off and leave me.

  3. So this means that they will now consider a vicar of the female variety? I feel for the female candidates who would step into that situation. Perhaps it is not completely hopeless, Jonathan?

  4. MadPriest, if there was something I could say that I thought would be helpful, I’d surely say it.

    Regarding the change in the resolutions by the parish, I’d say that nothing much has really changed in the church, and those who chose not to or could not apply previously and choose to apply now will probably not be satisfied in the job should one of them be offered the position.

  5. It is becoming patently obvious that I will never be a priest again.

    AT MOST, I think this would apply only in the CofE [You know my feelings on your looking abroad! Just.Do.It.—if only for a brief period!]

  6. “The Church is treating me as if I have no worth as a human being and, perhaps, they are right.”

    MP, trust me, and my bishop, if he hears of this, can take this to the bank: The Church Institutional is rarely if ever right. Full stop.

  7. I keep hearing the call to Paul being voiced in these and other comments… “Come over to Macedonia and help us”. (Acts 16: 9)
    There are places and people the other side of the pond ….

  8. What Whiteycat and Cathy and Ann said. You wouldn’t take any of this “they’re treating me as if I have no worth as a human being and perhaps they’re right” BS from me, so I for one am NOT taking it from you. I think you have worth as a human being, and I’m far more important than the damned Church. We who love you and say you do have worth as a human being are far more important than the bloody “Church”. So there. Quit giving them more value than us.

  9. “Church?!”


    They aren’t Church, just a bunch of bible-lawyers. It’s not that you have no worth as a human, it’s that they have no humanity as a self-satisfied and well-provided group.

    Your vocation is priesthood which isn’t dependent on how you make your money or what titles people give you.

  10. Seconding Mark and Cathy here. Who you are and your worth in the world depend not one bit on the title of your job.

  11. MadPriest, you’ve told me you don’t want my advice. You’ve told me why you don’t want my advice, because I don’t tell you what you want to hear. Fair enough. But I ask you: What kind of advice is it that only tickles your ears? It’s bullshit. That’s what it is.

    You are a human being of great worth. You are God’s beloved. How the church treats you has nothing to do with those two truths. The nothing-to-live-for crap is depression talk, if ever I heard depression talk, and it’s nonsense.

    The previous comments to mine contain much that is wise. I’d say pay due attention, if I wasn’t forbidden to give advice.

  12. I am unemployed. I am to be evicted from my home in 4 weeks. Mrs MP is nagging me day in and day out to give up the church and get a proper job and has no understanding of how that would be the end of my life. I fail to see how feeling worthwhile would make things any bette. It would be a delusion that would be completely unsupported by the facts.

  13. um, can you not do subbing work? … I know you said you didn’t want to but surely now that a little time has passed it offers a practical solution and would bring in money.

  14. What Lois said. What Whiteycat said. What Cathy said. What Ann said. What SaintlyR said. What Tracie H said especially. What MarkB said. What TOJ said. And as always, especially, what Mimi said. And I’ve said it to you too. And as you know, I have been, not exactly in the same place, but in a comparable place. Jonathan my brother — it’s time to GET OFF THE DAMN ROOF AND GET INTO THE DAMN BOAT!

  15. Dear Jonathan,

    You are far too creative and honest to function in a church system apparently so confining and closed.
    Shake the dust off your feet and move on. Re-training? A move to more sympathetic climes? There are many ways to spread the Gospel… Meanwhile, I love St. Laika’s. God bless you and lead you through this vocational crisis into new ministry.

  16. What Grandmere Mimi said, etc. Sending love your way from Massachusetts! You touch many people’s lives, whether they “let” you be a priest or not.

  17. Dear MP,
    The sense of desolation that you radiate demonstrates, in equal measure, the depth of your love for the Church. It saddens me greatly and makes me so angry that the Church, in return, hasn’t the ability to recognise your loyalty and devotion.
    Do you want your readers to petition on your behalf? We are ready to do anything to help.

  18. Ya know…this is not *quite* the same thing, but it’s similar…

    Joe’s military career was also taken from him, and a lot more firmly and directly than your status as a priest.

    He had an accident with some explosives on a training exercise, and wound up in the hospital for a certain amount of time. After he got out of hospital, he had to go into physical therapy for some time, and while he was in therapy the doctors told him he could not go to the gym and work out. They were afraid that if he did that and started to perspire, the perspiration would infect the wounds that were still healing.

    So he wound up gaining weight. This led to him being overweight for military requirements, and he had to be outprocessed from the Army.

    He knew if he had been allowed to do what needed to be done to remain in good physical condition, his weight wouldn’t have been a problem. But he wasn’t given a choice; he was told “you have to go”. Fortunately, sort of, this equated to a medical discharge, which is honorable. So he had to leave Bavaria and come back to the US to finalize his discharge from the Army. And he loved Bavaria, believe me. He wanted to stay there permanently. The Army said “aw hell no.”

    Believe me, he’d like to have his military career back. He wanted to eventually apply to be in the Old Guard, the men who hold vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, and who do state ceremonial details in DC.

    I asked him, “Joe, how did you move on from this, once you came back to the US?”

    He said it just took time to accept that he was not able to serve, and it was hard for him. He’s convinced that was his true calling in life – to serve his country, to protect and defend his fellow Americans, to give his life to something bigger than himself. He believes that he should give back to the society that helped him and his mom and five siblings as he was growing up, and that meant military service. It’s a family tradition in his clan. 🙂

    But that door was totally and completely shut to him; there’s no way he could reenlist at all now. The military has said NO.

    So after a while, he began looking around at other things that seemed interesting, that he could do. He did security work for a while, and he’d considered a job as one of those guys who defuses explosives – you know, when people get stupid and do a Timothy McVeigh and try to blow up federal buildings.

    I’m glad he’s not doing THAT.

    But it is possible to move on from a given call in life, as difficult as it may seem.

    Lucky you, that you even feel like you have a calling. I don’t think I do.

    Joe was wondering if there was no way you could do something like be a hospital chaplain or something similar…?

  19. I really like what Tracie has said. I am sure there are a lot of military men who have to give up the job they love through being wounded and it must be difficult for all of them.

    I seem to recall I suggested a chaplaincy ages ago (somewhere on a thread on Chin Wag)? It does not involve presiding at the Eucharist (at least, as far as I know), so that would be a loss. However, Jonathan, you have as part of your calling always made a big point of visiting the sick and sitting with the dying, so there’s that. Also, there are other sorts of chaplaincies (girls’ school? That wouldn’t be too onerous surely). It would also not preclude you continuing to apply for positions as a priest. I don’t know how hard it would be to get this sort of job though and for all I know you may have tried already? …

  20. The US armed forces are always looking for chaplains. Of course you would have to work out the citizenship thing – but who knows.

  21. go freelance – oec,

    im really getting the vibe of a radical, episcopal, church going on here and there – i think if more of us stat doing the indy thing it will snowball

  22. Thanks, mike. I don’t think we need yet consider it as the norm, or even commonplace. But on a strictly voluntary basis I think it would be wise to experiment with the idea as it will prepare the Church for the time, not too far distant, when its financial situation may make such ministries a necessity.