If you read the Church Times you may have seen Angela Tilby’s column from the 9th December issue urging clergy to avoid family-olatry this Christmas. It would have caught my eye at any time but I was particularly struck by her words as I have lately been putting much thought into my understanding of marriage and ministry and how a couple balances these two demanding callings. Rev Tilby argues that ‘Clergy and ministers today often seem to buy into a view of the family which is difficult to justify from the Gospels.’ I totally agree but would suggest that this is far more likely to be in the direction of neglecting the family due to idolatry of the ordained ministry than the other way around. Rev Tilby claims that thirty years ago the parish came before family at Christmas; I can imagine many clergy spouses thinking that the parish only coming first at Christmas would be a marked improvement on their clergy partner’s current working practice. Continue reading
I’m afraid these conferences are only for the ladies – if you are interested in meeting with other clergy wives at national conferences rather than diocese specific ones there are a few opportunities next year (2016).
The London Ministry Wives Conference Organising Team are holding a one day conference on Saturday 30 January, 10am-4:45pm in Tooting, London. This is a day of teaching and fellowship for wives of ministers with speaker Clare Heath-Whyte. For more details and to book a ticket go to the website: http://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/bookings/details?id=312
Wives of Evangelical Clergy are holding a two day conference from 1st-3rd March in Oxfordshire. There is also the opportunity to just go for the day on the Wednesday. This is another opportunity for fellowship and teaching with worship, prayer and discussion. For more details and to book see their website: http://weac.weebly.com/
The Proclamation Trust has a two conferences next year for clergy wives. 7th-10th March in Leicestershire (this is for wives of ministers who have been in ministry for 7 or more years.) The summer conference is for wives of those in training or who have been in ministry for less than 7 years and runs 4th-7th July also in Leicestershire. For more details see the website: http://www.proctrust.org.uk/conferences/index.php?type=24
New Wine have a conference for Women and Leadership in London 10th-12th November. This is for women whose lives ‘are wrapped up in leadership one way or another’. They also have several New Wine Women days which are not specifically for women involved in leadership but may be of interest. For details of all of these go to: https://www.new-wine.org/events
You will have noticed that these are all for women and are at the evangelical/conservative end of the church spectrum. I am yet to hear of anything aimed at men or both men and women or for those of other churchmanship. Having grown up in the more liberal end of the church I suspect this is at least partly because there just is not such a conference going culture in those churches. Gender differences may also be a factor in terms of level of interest in meeting up in this way and perception of the role of CS. There is also the practical complication of many conferences happening during the week which is tricky if you are in paid employment. So my apologies to anyone who feels left out, perhaps as more women are ordained into the church there will be enough men wanting a conference that someone will get organising – maybe you are that person and just don’t know it yet!
There are mince pies in the shops and I know more than one person who could tell you to the day where we are in the Christmas countdown. So I hope I will be forgiven for bringing this topic up in October but a bit of forward thinking and planning could help in tackling the interesting experience that is Christmas in the vicarage. I know that some CSs find this a particularly challenging season, especially in the early years of ordination when it is all new. I am now approaching my 6th vicarage Christmas and will outline below the challenges I have identified through my own and others’ experiences. In a second post I will look at potential strategies for dealing with them. It is by no means an exhaustive list but I hope it will help you in thinking about how to make Christmas a joyful time rather than a joy-stealer in your home. Continue reading
Relocation is generally an unavoidable aspect of clergy spouse (CS) life. If your other half (OH) is a stipendiary minister you are likely to move several times. If your oh is a self-supporting minister you still find yourself in a relocation of role even if you have not moved geographically. At this time of year in particular many clergy and ordinand families are in the midst of adjusting to a new life. With ordinations over the summer many are at the start of curacies while others are starting at theological college – this is a very intense few years for these families as they will go through 2 major relocations within 2 or 3 years. September is the ‘back to business as usual’ month and now that the moving dust has settled this is perhaps the time when reality really starts to hit. The point where the novelty of being called ‘the new curate’s wife’ has truly worn off or you are really starting to miss your friends and family. I have now been through 2 relocations and have a few thoughts to offer.
- Let yourself grieve
There is always some sort of loss in moving even if you welcome the change. You have left something behind whether it be friends, family, job, house, church or a favourite cafe. Sometimes it is not something so tangible – when I married my OH a few weeks after his ordination and moved to his curacy placement I was in some ways mourning the loss of other possibilities and the life I had once expected to have. There is nothing wrong in being sad and taking some time to mourn. This is not self-indulgent but actually the first step to moving forward. Continue reading
10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know by Jeana Floyd, New Leaf Press, 2010.
Jeana Floyd is an American minister’s wife. From what she writes I get the sense she is well known in America but I had never heard of her. Perhaps because she is well known there, she is not explicit about her churchmanship but I am fairly sure she is at the conservative evangelical end. She definitely upholds the male headship view of gender. Unlike Benton’s book (find my review of ‘The Minister’s Wife’ in the Book Review category), I think that this one is more of a struggle if you don’t hold the same beliefs as Floyd. I doubt clergy husbands would find most of it useful. Continue reading