CHILDREN in the choir of a church in West Yorkshire decided to take the recruitment of their next vicar into their own hands, by writing and singing an advert to attract potential applicants.
Rather than rely on traditional forms of clergy recruitment, the junior choir of St Paul’s, Shipley, in the diocese of Leeds, made their own video to attract a new vicar who, they sing, has to tell jokes, deliver short sermons, and like Harry Potter.
The singing recruitment advert has been posted on Facebook, and, in just over a day, had been viewed more than 20,000 times. The Revd Kate Bottley, from the TV series Gogglebox, described it in a comment as “Brilliant”.
The song, echoing the film Mary Poppins, begins: “If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition. Make us laugh, smile lots, play games, tell jokes.” More attributes follow: “You must be kind, you must be fair. Bible stories you will share. Plan parish weekends and retreats, sermons short — and sweet.
“Share God’s love with everyone. Be energetic, work hard, have fun. Boy or girl it doesn’t matter — but you must enjoy Harry Potter.”
In return, the choir promises: “If you will sing and worship with us, show us how to pray, and Jesus, we won’t talk in your sermons, we’ll be good — you’ll see. We’ll do our very best to tidy up the choir vestry. Come to Shipley, many thanks, sincerely, St Paul’s Junior Choir.”
The director of music for children and young people at St Paul’s, Rachel Hesselwood, came up with the original idea, but, she says, the words were largely the work of the children. “It was very last-minute: two weeks ago, at junior choir. I asked the children to tell me what they thought a vicar should be like. All the suggestions are their own words, just slightly changed to rhyme and fit the music.
“I then wrote the lyrics, and in a day the children learnt the song, choreographed it themselves in small groups, and recorded it — all in our hour’s rehearsal.”
The junior choir at St Paul’s has been running for five years, and has about 20 members, who sing at least once a month at special services and concerts.
The traditional advertisement for the post — a part-time vicar for St Paul’s, a single-church parish — does not ask for a sense of humour or a short sermon, but, more traditionally perhaps, someone who is a “facilitatory leader” who can reach out to the people of Shipley and grow the church.