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Differing views of C of E ‘bureaucracy’

18 November 2009


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.

The Vicarage
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.

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