From Mrs Pat King
Sir, — The last paragraph of the back-page interview (13 November) with Michelle Guinness made me angry.
I can speak only for the diocese of Hereford, where my husband has ministered for the past 15 years. We are very well served by the “bureaucrats” in the diocesan office, who work tirelessly to look after our vicarages. I am also on our Benefice Buildings Committee, and great care is taken to improve and maintain houses within a budget.
It is up to the occupants to use their God-given creativity to make a vibrant and welcoming home within a community. It is also the duty of clergy families to look after the houses and gardens that they occupy free of cost and responsibilities.
As for the “bureaucrats”, my husband and I felt that they were the uncared-for ones. So this year we invited the staff of the diocesan office and their partners to our home for a barbecue. We enjoyed saying thankyou to them, and I think they appreciated the opportunity to see the outcome of some of their work.
I think we should be very grateful to the employees of the Church of England. Their work frees the clergy to minister without the worry of buying and maintaining a property, and enables them to live within the community they serve.
Church Road, Weobley
Herefordshire HR4 8SD
Sir, — Michelle Guinness’s anger at the way in which clergy are treated struck a chord. I am retired, but have reluctantly come out of retirement to work in a parish for some months in the Vicar’s absence. I find that the code of practice for the payment of retired clergy in my situation allows for a payment for two Sunday services and nothing more. The payment is £54.
The liturgical and pastoral work in the parish cannot be done with any care and creativity in less than 20 hours a week, and I am regularly working 25 to 30 hours. This means that the Church is paying me at a rate that is less than half the national minimum wage. I feel undervalued and abused.
Name & Address Supplied