Church Times column on curacies

A friend pointed me to this column by Matthew Caminer in Church Times (7 February). If you have a subscription you can read it online here: http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/7-february/comment/opinion/curacies-what-is-wrong-and-how-to-rectify-it or find it on page 16 of a paper copy . Matthew is a management consultant, CS and author of A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide.

I think CS’s and their clergy partners approaching the curacy might find it interesting reading. He argues that the CofE’s approach to new clergy is, ‘bureaucratic, rigid and out of date’ and no longer fit for purpose considering the demographic of people going forward for ordination. He also thinks that pastoral support at a diocesan level has become ‘diluted’ so that some curates, their families and training incumbents, lack the pastoral oversight and support needed. He talks about other issues as well and outlines a five-point plan for improving curacies, but these two points particularly resonated with me. Working in a secular setting during the curacy, it worried me that, both in terms of organisation and pastoral care, my workplace was setting a better example than the Church. I wish I had been aware that there would not be proactive pastoral support for us as a family. It would also have been handy to have had forewarning about the strange way things can be run in this institution. I hope that Matthew’s ideas will inspire Church leaders so that, as he says, ‘the shepherds are nurtured, and their families, too.’

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4 thoughts on “Church Times column on curacies

  1. There have been a whole bunch of occasions when I’ve thought that the secular world treats its employees better than “the church” treats its clergy. It’s interesting to watch some dioceses very intentionally recruiting people into something that in the secular world might even be described as a career path. But of course you can’t use the “career” word in many parts of the church…

  2. Very interesting indeed. I think CSs have a unique perspective as we are close enough to have a good idea of how things are run, but can see things a bit more clearly than the clergy who are in the midst of it. We also bring perspectives from generally spending more time in secular settings. I wasn’t at all surprised to see Matthew Caminer is a management consultant!

  3. Interesting article. While highlighting many common issues, it doesn’t touch on the (what was for us and others, slightly painful) point of curacy houses. It’s a complex issue because we don’t want to look like we’re demanding the world – this is a calling after all – but when the PCC offers only to clean, not replace, depressingly filthy and worn carpets, and the diocesan housing team maintain that carpets are fittings, like curtains (?!), which the tenant needs to provide, it’s hard not to feel a bit betrayed.
    At an Deacon & Spouses Day held at the cathedral, the bishop’s wife expressed her belief, to the gathered CS’s, that a congregation ought not to be applying for a curate if they couldn’t fund the appropriate level of housing. I’ll certainly be making a lot of noise about that if my husband ever ends up with a curate in his care.

    • Housing needs a whole article to itself really. You feel ungrateful and worldly if you complain, but it really can cause much unnecessary stress. I hope the bishop’s wife’s opinion prevails.

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