*** DEBUG END ***

How best to help rural congregations in future

11 December 2015


From the Revd Toddy Hoare

Sir, — It is no use burdening clergy with too much plant, as the pastoral care suffers. There is a balance, as a closed church will stand for failure; and many, whom you will not see on a Sunday, will seek a church’s space and solitude for quiet, prayer, and reflection; so, again, do not lock it during the day either.

I was a lucky incumbent — with 15 churchwardens and one owner of a private chapel for eight churches; so the fabric was maintained, and I was free to visit, study, teach, and prepare, depending on ministerial and parish demands. I had to do, or explain in detail, faculty applications, as the laity did not understand them, and carry the can when it went pear-shaped. Now many dioceses lay on much-appreciated training days for churchwardens.

No doubt, most villages will continue to ensure their church is kept watertight. Here, the dioceses might help by employing a full-time maintenance team to clear and straighten gutters and replace tiles, as no middle-aged lady or pensioner is going to ascend a ladder when health and safety dictate the insurance policy. Rural churches will have to push the boat out for special occasions and festivals, community and family events, and may have to book a priest for such services.

There should be a new scale of fees for occasional offices to take into account the maintenance of the fabric and ensure its availability for those who wish to use it, as family rites of passage are celebrated in church by those for whom the service makes the occasion more meaningful.

Pond Farm House, Holton
Oxford OX33 1PY

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

8 September 2022
Church Times Cricket Cup: North v. South
Join us to watch the match at the Walker Cricket Ground, in Southgate, north London.

26 September 2022
What am I living for? God
Sam Wells and Lucy Winkett begin the St Martin-in-the-Fields autumn lecture series in partnership with Church Times.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)