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Titles of clergy post

by
24 April 2015

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Your answers 

It puzzles me when I read your advertisements for clerical vacancies that there is such a diversity in the titles, such as Rector, Vicar, Priest-in-Charge, Priest-in-Charge (Vicarage & Half Stipend), Team Rector (Designate), Team Vicar, House for Duty, and Associate Priest (Stipendiary). Please would someone explain this diversity? 

The significance of some of these titles can be found from a dictionary; but not all. You will not find any reference to my title, that of acting parish priest, anywhere, I suspect.

Once upon a time, the simple distinction existed between beneficed clergy, vicars or rectors - the differences are historical and unimportant - who had tenure for life in a parish, and assistant curates who were their licensed assistants, without tenure. Priests-in-charge were a creation to give parishes a "vicar" but without tenure, initially when pastoral reorganisation was being considered. Statute created team ministries, in which a team of clergy, on fixed-term but renewable licences, worked together, in theory, in a large parish or a collection of former parishes, the leader being called Team Rector, and the others Team Vicars. Where the team has not yet been made legal by Order in Council, any post-holders are only designated.

I have never understood the notion of a half-stipend. Stipends were once living allowances, and I pay the same for a pound of mince as anyone else. With a house for duty, you get a house and expenses. Both are signs that the Church is trying to save money. "Associate priest" is a term used to avoid what some see as the derogatory connotations of the word "curate".

Lawyers will wince at the simplifications that this answer contains; it would take much more space to describe the detail. What really matters is that every church should have a "vicar" who is liturgically responsible, pastorally directed, able to teach the faith, and persistent in prayer. Alas!

(Canon) R. H. W. Arguile,  Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk 

Your questions

Is it appropriate for members of the clergy to display election propaganda, such as signs reading "Vote Labour", in parsonage gardens?

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