Saturday, 5 March 2016

Contacting Your Church Minister

It's always a tricky one - how do you get hold of a minister? What time, place or communication method is best? Well, in fact the method varies with the minister's week.

Minister's Working Day

The trouble is, they're really tricky to get hold of on a working day. They keep on the move. Sometimes they'll be at committee meetings: and ministers get to be on lots of committees, not church ones. And you're talking about people whose definition of "work" includes leading retreats to Walsingham or the Holy Land, or going off to other ministers' services. Sure you can leave a message on the phone. If it's the manse phone you might have a chance. But if you have a church office - well, church administrators are terribly protective of the minister. You will get your message added to the giant pile of ignorage and spoon fed to the minister when the administrator thinks it's a less stressful part of the week.

Minister's Day Off

Ministers get one day off every week (apparently Sundays don't count). On this day they are in strict purdah, inaccessible and subject to radio silence. In an ideal world they would be teleported to another county on days off to be on the safe side. So how do you get hold of them?

This is possibly easier than you might imagine. Not that you be able to get hold of the minister personally in the first instance - not unless you hang around in a tree overlooking the manse garden on the off chance that the minister decides to do some gardening or sunbathing. And a sunbathing pastor isn't always in the best frame of mind when, having applied the sun lotion and poured the Pimms, they find a churchgoer shouting questions about the Book of Deuteronomy or the church drains down from a height at them.

And don't waste your time trying to phone them. Again - if you go via the church office you'll get onto the "pending" pile. And if you phone the manse you'll get the answer phone. And if your minister is of a certain age, or a man, it's more likely the message will be accidentally deleted.

Dave Walker has a wonderful cartoon that shows the bunker deep underground where the "vicar goes on his day off". So if they are there you'll struggle to find the the minister if there's a day off bunker.

But no, it's much easier. If you want to get your message across on a Minister's Day Off, send them an email. 

That's what the minister does on a day off. Sorts out the emails.


Sunday during the service is a very bad time to get hold of the minister. If you start asking whether you can have a word about how the yews are shading your garden, or whether marrying your next-door neighbour falls under the degrees of affinity, or if you can put a 20 foot poster up on the church wall, or organise a "guerilla fete" in the manse garden - assuming the minister's not sunbathing at the time - don't do it during the service. They tend to be busy. And after the service is bad time - normally they've got another service to go to, or lunch with the Area Superintendent, or a deep desire to be in Weatherspoon's. 

But before the service - that's a really convenient time. You can easily get them because you know where they are, they're not going to run away. And they are often conveniently confined to the vestry - so you are able to block the exit until they deal with your problem. And if they're Anglicans they may be struggling to get themselves into a particularly tricky piece of liturgical outerwear, leaving them at your mercy. The ideal time is about 7 minutes before the service starts - if you catch them off-guard they will sign any form, agree to any changes, or promise to visit your sick pigeon. They will be pathetically happy to help you as quickly as possible.

Sometimes you will come into the vestry just before the service, to find that the minister is kneeling. This is so you find it even easier to tap them on the shoulder.

Hiding Places

Some ministers, despite your kindness in catching them in their spare time before services, will take extreme measures to be unobtainable. Ministers are very cunning, and spend a full semester on their training in learning how to use any scrap of cover to their advantage. If your minister is like this, the best thing to do is not to start setting fire to the undergrowth or cutting down trees. Simply send them an email. Ideally on their day off - that's when they tend to deal with them.

Can you spot the seven vicars hidden in this picture?

1 comment :

  1. I love the bit in the Lindchester chronicles ( about the vicar who has successfully trained his flock that Friday is his day off - so much so that on that day they now preface their requests with 'I now it's your day of, but ...'


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