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Not just a meal ticket

by
17 February 2011

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From the Revd Graham Blacktop

Sir, — How disappointing that Canon Giles Fraser (Comment, 11 February) should have concluded so soon that the expectations associ­ated with his appointment as the chaplain of a City of London livery company amount to the recitation of the grace before the undoubted enjoyment of what will surely be a splendid repast.

It is to be earnestly hoped that Canon Fraser’s readers do not form the opinion that his meal-ticket experience is typical. In my own livery company, the responsibilities of the honorary chaplain, solem­nised in tablets of stone in company standing orders, include, inter alia, the provision of pastoral care to the members of the company.

During my 20 years as the company chaplain, individual cases have occurred across the whole gamut of the disappointments, delights, dilemmas, and distresses of hatch, match, and dispatch pastor­alia. Additionally, I am frequently used as a sounding board for information and opinion on current church issues ranging from lesbian American bishops to the Ordinari­ate.

Opportunities will be varied by the size, scope, and membership of the individual companies, but I have no doubt that my own experiences are by no means unusual among livery-company chaplains.

May I urge Canon Fraser to enjoy his dinners, certainly, but also to get out there among his beliveried flock regularly on civic and social occa­sions. He will find that, over time, the limited expectations he cur­rently attaches to his chaplaincy will change.

GRAHAM BLACKTOP
Dairy House
Wolfeton
Dorchester DT2 9QN

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