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No vicar? Don’t despair

by
25 October 2013

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From the Revd Colin Midlane
Sir, - Rod Walker's assertion (Letters, 18 October) that "a church is rudderless without an incumbent" needs querying.

As a retired priest, I have had the pleasure (mainly) and the privilege of helping to cover a number of vacancies in the past few years, mainly in the Stepney Area of London diocese. In almost every case, congregations have remained faithful and energised, even when an appointment has seemed far off.

Vacancies provide the opportunity and incentive to look again at the part played by a parish priest, the ministry of every member of the congregation, and the needs of the parish. Consequently, there can be the realisation that much can and will continue without the parish priest: an attention to pastoral care within the congregation, the maintenance of main acts of corporate worship, and community contacts with the parish. Congregations need not be as "sheep without a shepherd", but may realise their dependence on the one Shepherd.

The experience, it is to be hoped, leads to a great understanding of shared ministry, and the need for good teamwork with the new incumbent.

Vacancies in the Stepney Area seem to last on average about nine months to a year: maybe not ideal, but usually sustainable.

COLIN MIDLANE
30 Damien Court, Damien Street
London E1 2HL

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