New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Features > Pastimes >

Out of the question: How much time for the parish?

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.

Your answers

Are there guidelines for stipendiary clergy (male and female) with a working spouse and young children about the ratio of their “parish” to their “childcare” time?

There are no guidelines, but two perils. Because clergy are unsupervised, they may take too much time off from what they are paid to do, or endanger the health of themselves, their marriage, and their children by attempting too much.

The clergy should discuss the issue with their churchwardens. As a starting point, they might look at the timetable of a family in the congregation where both parents work. The adults may work a 40-hour week, attend a Sunday service, and average two hours’ voluntary activity per week. The clergy should not count one of their Sunday services as work, as it is part of their Christian worship, and preparation is done beforehand.

The clergy are on call at home, but do not have to commute. Parishioners, however, need educating on good and bad times to call, and clergy families need regular breaks away from the parish when they can enjoy time together undisturbed. People may have caravans or holiday homes they can lend. Various members of the congregation may be happy to help with some childcare, housework, and administration.

A time-management strategy may be worked out with the wardens and explained to the congregation. If the combined parish and family pressures seem too great, then the possibility of the cleric’s going part-time might be discussed with the diocese (any reduction in stipend could fund additional clerical assistance); or the spouse might go part-time.

(Canon) John Goodchild
Liverpool

There are no guidelines. But I would be unhappy if the implication of the question was that all time should be “parish” time, apart from a small amount grudgingly parcelled off as “childcare” time.

All the research on working effectiveness and working hours in the secular world and on clergy stress points to a far healthier and more beneficial understanding that the cleric “works” for a certain number of hours (between 37 and 50 have been suggested), and is “off duty” for the remainder of the time.

Of course, there are grey areas and blurred boundaries, but this should be the basic assumption. It is helpful for this to be agreed at the beginning of a working relationship: most curates have a “working agreement” covering such issues, but it is perhaps less common for incumbent-level and more senior clergy. I have heard of some clergy who state that they “work” for, say, 45 hours a week, and “give” or “tithe” a further five hours, equivalent to the voluntary work for the Church that other employed people give.

Whatever the agreement reached, it should be irrelevant whether or not the cleric has children. His or her marital status or the employment status of the spouse should also be irrelevant. If the clergy are not doing a reasonable week’s work (say, 37-50 hours), then that is reasonable grounds for complaint, whatever the reason for it. But if they are doing a reasonable job for a reasonable working week, what they do in their time off is their own business.

I have suggested 50 hours as a top limit because research has found that working more than 50 hours a week is counter-productive.

(The Revd Dr) Miranda Threlfall-Holmes
Durham

Your questions

Many medieval churches display carvings of rabbits. Is there any evidence (whether ecclesiastical or in folklore) for the reason these animals appear in churches? G. H. W.

Any suggestions for removing lichen patches from my asphalt shingle roof? G. W.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 13-17 Long Lane, London EC1A 9PN.

questions@churchtimes.co.uk

Job of the week

Ecumenical Chaplain

Wales

G4S An equal opportunities employer Ecumenical Chaplain HMP Parc, Bridgend £29,920 pa | Full time As the world's leading security solutions group with operations in over 120 countries an...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Putting Passion into performance

Putting Passion into performance

Pat Ashworth talks to the originators of two home-grown Passion stagings, one musical and the other theatrical  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Should parishes be able to sell treasures that no longer reside in their churches?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

My faith in the Church of England

David Cameron expresses his pride in its openness, beauty, social action, and pastoral care  Read More

Wed 23 Apr 14 @ 13:49
Eight arguments over whether the UK is a Christian country http://t.co/CZFXvZYlAS

Wed 23 Apr 14 @ 13:20
House of Bishops has announced plan to double number of BME senior clergy. Read about history of CofE + immigrants: http://t.co/6Pv4ShFh1I