Feedback Please

Firstly apologies for not posting for so long, I haven’t abandoned the cause I promise! I was in the first trimester of pregnancy, which as some of you will know is knackering, so I was sleeping whenever I had the chance. Now that my energy levels are back to normal, and this blog has been up and running for a few months, I thought it would be good to take stock and consider where to go from here. It would be really useful to hear from others as to what you think about what I’ve done so far and any ideas you have for the future as I very much want this to be a blog for all CSs. You can contact me by commenting on this post or emailing clergyspousesupport@outlook.com or messaging me through the Clergy Spouse Support Facebook page.

Feedback on the following points would be particularly appreciated:

1) A basic flaw with a blog like this, which deals with potentially sensitive issues, is that it is public and can be read by anyone. This means that CSs may not be able to be as open as they would be if they knew only other CSs were reading. In the long term I am going to look into creating a website which would combine providing information with hosting a private forum for CSs. As I am not very techy I have no idea just how long term this plan will end up being. In the meantime another option would be, as a couple of you have already suggested, a closed Facebook group; people can apply to join and the administrators of the group could then check that they are a genuine CS before they are given access to the group. This would give a private space for CSs to have discussions and ask for advice etc all in a spirit of mutual support. If this is something you would like me to go ahead and set-up please let me know. It would also be good to hear from anyone who would like to help administer the group.

2) My post listing all of the diocesan clergy handbooks seemed to be popular and gets plenty of views. There has also been quite a bit of positivity about the book reviews. Would you like to see more of this sort of information, sign posting to potential sources of advice etc? Would you find it helpful to have as much CS related information as possible centralised in one place rather than having to go through diocesan websites?

3) There is a limit to how much I can write about based on my own experiences and I don’t want the blog to only contain my thoughts on being a CS. I was originally hoping others would contribute their own wisdom so that we could gather together a whole body of advice on every aspect of being a CS. Is this something you are just not interested in? Is the privacy issue holding you back from writing about your own experiences? Would a closed Facebook group where you would know who you were talking to be a more comfortable space for this sort of thing?

4) I’ve found that meeting other CSs can be a challenge if nothing happens at a deanery or diocese level. I’m also aware that the meet-ups which do occur may only appeal to certain people and in particular do not always suit male spouses. If you don’t fit in with what goes on but would still like to have contact with other CSs you can feel a bit stuck. So I was considering a ‘Would like to meet’ section; people can email me with a description of the sort of CS company they would appreciate and their geographical area e.g. ‘CS based in west Kent would like to meet a fellow CS who would like to go to the pub for a drink every so often and talk about anything other than church.’ I would then post this on the blog without giving any personal details and anyone who would be interested in meeting up could then email me and I could put you in touch (having confirmed that you are both actual CSs just to be on the safe side.)

I look forwards to hearing your thoughts.

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Clergy spouses unite!

Hello there! Welcome to a blog dedicated to informing and supporting clergy spouses(CS) across the land (mainly in the Church of England in Britain but all are welcome).

I’m Georgie and I am a CofE Vicar’s Wife. Freshly minted in fact, as my husband, James, has just taken up his first vicar post. We spent just over three years in the North-East for his curacy and have now moved to Dorset. We got married after he was ordained so my main experience has been as a curate’s wife.

It is widely acknowledged that being married to a clergy person can be very challenging and I have certainly found this to be the case. Based on my experiences, and talking to other CS’s, I have concluded that a big factor in this is lack of preparation and support. This led me to the cheering thought that much CS unhappiness is preventable or could at least be minimised. We can be both prepared and supported. But this will only happen if we help each other.

Support in the dioceses varies widely and even where good networks exist, accessibility may be an issue for some, due to work, children etc. When I have searched for support networks/information online I have struggled to find anything which is not primarily aimed at female Christians. It seems that at the Evangelical end of the spectrum there is good stuff going on, with national conferences for clergy wives and such like, but again this is not accessible to all. I think there should be a resource which gives access to advice and support regardless of where you live, your gender, faith or churchmanship and which is easily accessible.

So, I thought, why not have an online resource which brings together information and advice for all CS’s. Something where different people can contribute their experiences and wisdom. Where CS’s can come with particular questions or worries and get advice from people who know what they are going through. Where people about to move to a particular diocese, training college or area can get information beforehand about what to expect and what support will be on offer when they get there. Where CS’s can connect with like minded people who they might never have met because they live at opposite ends of the country, or discover a new friend nearby.

I thought that a blog would be a good base for exploring whether there are other spouses out there who would value this sort of resource. I think a proper website would ultimately be a better platform, but I didn’t want to embark on such a big project before finding out if there is significant interest amongst CS’s.┬áSo I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in this idea or would feel able to contribute material. Do you have experience of life as a CS with small children? Are you a clergy husband who could give insights into what this growing group of people can expect? Are you a non-Christian/non-churchgoing spouse with advice for those in a similar situation? Are you great with money and able to give practical tips on living on a clergy stipend? Could you give an outline of CS support in your diocese and information on how to access the support network? Do you have advice on how Churchgoing spouses can nurture their spiritual life if they struggle with the church they end up in? I am open to hearing any suggestions and ideas that you have so please email me at: clergyspousesupport@outlook.com. If you have something you would like to ask your fellow CS’s, email me and I will dedicate a post to your query. I look forwards to hearing from you.

I will be kicking things off with a post on ‘How I wish I had Prepared for the Curacy’ and a book review of ‘The Minister’s Wife’ by Ann Benton and friends.