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