Monday 16 April 2018

APCM Survival Kit

All round the Church of England, the season for Annual Parochial Church Meetings is upon us. My good friend Revd Nathan has five in five days. And the big question is: how can anyone, cleric or laity, survive?

Obviously it's worse for multi-parish ministers. They, after all, have two, three, fourteen or more. But it can be bad enough if there is just the one or two. And even for the laity it's hard to put up with.

And the nature of the church, the minister and the tradition can have a lot of effect. Some ministers can canter through in ten minutes after the main service. Some ministers build the APCM into the structure of the liturgy, presumably with the choir chanting "Any Other Business" and a solo for the Treasurer's Report.  Some, nuclear winter sets in during the "Thanks for Everyone in the Parish"  part of the vicar's report.

So let's consider some simple survival guides.

  1. Don't volunteer beforehand for anything. If you put your name down on the sideperson's list before the meeting itself, people are gonna think you're the sort of  ambitious go-getter that has always wanted to  stand around on Sunday mornings wondering what your job is. Much better to be pressed into it and smile,  martyr-like,  as you plot whatever world domination  can be achieved from the South Aisle.
  2. If you think it's going to be a long meeting take coffee. If a very long meeting take beer. If there's any kind of building changes proposed take a tent.
  3. On which point. If the vicar insists that the term is "sidesmen" because it's always been that  and it's a non-gendered term, ask him (for it will be "him")  how he managed during  the Little  Ice Age.
  4. Don't let Aggie be Treasurer again. Not after the year of the "Gin Budget".
  5. Announcing the diocese has decided to convert the church building into a Georgian Theme Park is best slipped into "Any Other Business", rather than put on the agenda in advance.
  6. Pet goats do not have voting rights.
  7. Though it's tricky to work out who does. Basically you've got to be on the Electoral Role. And to do that you have to be living in the Parish or worshipping there. And an Anglican. Or another Christian. Though if you're worshipping at the church how come you're not an Anglican? I mean, what are you? A lobster?
  8. The dead rector from the 50s always comes up. Not literally. I mean, he doesn't claw his way out of his grave... Oh, he does in your parish? Well he's still clergy so he can't stand as Churches Together rep. Even if he's got more life in than most of the members.
  9. Even in the unlikely event of a tight election for PCC membership, if you're that desperate you can always stand for Deanery Synod and get on that way. And believe me, when I say desperate...
  10. You've a choice with how to manage reports. Either issue them all beforehand, and ask only for feedback. Or read them out in full and waste an entire afternoon of everyone's  life. Do not do both. Not if you don't want paper airplanes.
  11. Any Other Business should be tabled in advance. And in full. No deviating from the precise words. No sudden bright ideas. Though see above re Edwardian Theme Park.
  12. The Incumbent's report can sound a bit like an acceptance speech at the Oscars. Why not try doing it in the form of interpretive dance?
  13. If there's only two people at the meeting it's no good suggesting Jeb should stand down as Church Warden after his 54th glorious year.
  14. On the other hand if there's over a hundred at the meeting it's best to find out who's in the Clique, who's in the Cabal and who's in the Faction in the advance.
  15. You know in the Psalms when David talks about having to deal with the Lockers? He'd just run the Jerusalem Annual Church Meeting.
  16. You can always get your way at an APCM, though it always takes a year. Just wait for the reading of last year's minutes and say "That's not how I remember it..." Nobody else will be able to remember so they can't argue. For best effect, take out some notes.
  17. The meeting should start with prayers. And end in recrimination.

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1 comment :

  1. An excellent guide for the APCM, it reminds me of some of the Army avoidance strategies:

    1. Never volunteer FOR ANYTHING, particularly when the person asking for volunteers is a bit vague about what exactly volunteering will entail.

    2. On parade, keep a low profile, get into the rear rank, (it helps if your are under 5'2) and hunker down a bit (avoiding the RSM's beady eye).

    3. When people mention what a great time they had on the last exercise/adventure training/fatigue party, nod knowingly and slink away before they nominate you for the next one.

    4. Know where the Medical Centre is so that when something particularly physically difficult is coming up, so that you can limp in to see the medics and convince them that you back pain/tummy issues/old injury is playing up, and you need an excused physical exercise/heavy work chit.

    5. Judiciously book leave/time off/course to ensure that you are not available when important parades, visits, or exercises are coming up - pleading family hasn't seen you for months/need new skills for career development purposes, be convincing, and you might get away with it

    6. Never be the life and soul of the party, never buy an officer a drink (they're better paid than you anyway), never draw attention to yourself in any way, and you will succeed in completing your engagement without promotion, but in one piece.


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