Of course, you only work Sundays don’t you?’ is the gentle ribbing with which every ordained person is familiar. Underlying it though is often a real question along the lines of: ‘What exactly do you do?’, and in response to requests, here is my attempt to describe a typical day.
Sunday is the most important part of the week for the Vicar, but not often the busiest. I usually take three services: 8.00 am or 6.00 pm, 9.30 am and 11.00 am. I try to stay as long as possible to meet people and frequently there is a PCC meeting after the 11 am, a Sunday afternoon event or entertaining at the Rectory.
Monday is my day off, and the other weekdays begin by checking emails as I help get the children ready for school. I’m blessed in having a five minute commute, getting in touch with the rhythm of the seasons as I walk to Stanton Church. It’s also an opportunity to keep in touch with the school parents, as I deliberately coincide with drop off time! Prayer is a duty and a joy for the clergy: we have a responsibility to pray for parishioners and time is set aside every day for this.
After prayers, the morning’s activity may include an assembly or two at our 4 village schools, Little Lights, a midweek service, taking communion to the housebound or dropping in on a coffee morning. One of my key roles is as a training incumbent, supervising two curates, a Children’s Worker and ordinands / lay ministers on placement. Most weeks include at least one morning training, managing or supporting a colleague.
Lunch is a chance to catch up with the family, do some hosting, or attend a meeting such as Deanery Chapter. The afternoons are times for visiting, preparation or correspondence, of which more later. I take between 5pm and 7pm cooking supper and getting the children to bed before the evening meeting.
With 8 churches and an average of 4 PCC meetings per year per church, there are a lot of PCCs! The best ones end by 9.30 pm, which allows time to be seen in one of our 5 pubs! There are also three significant building projects, each of which involves a meeting about once a month. Adult education is a real passion for me, and so Foundations courses, Lent Groups, Bible studies and the like have an allocated evening in most weeks. Then there are the occasional Trusts, Diocesan and Deanery events, planning meetings, socials, special evening services and wedding rehearsals.
While weddings, and to some extent baptisms, are seasonal, funerals occur throughout the year. Pastoral visiting before and after these events is a high priority, as is preparation of the service. We also try to visit those who are unwell or in particular need, although we are not telepathic and so do need to be told!
There are three great unseens in my work. For every public event there is preparation to be done: 3-5 hours for a service, an hour or two for each study group, meeting or assembly. Secondly, there is a huge amount of correspondence which I fit in when I can, mainly about buildings, finance and organisation. Thirdly, I reckon I spend about an hour a day travelling, although the Blackberry allows me to deal with some emails while out and about, and I also take every opportunity to pop into our 5 village stores.
Within the typical daily pattern there are also variations. Saturdays include weddings, village meetings, and 8 parishes hold a lot of fetes and fundraisers! There are occasional events, like the Marriage Preparation Day, a few small things I do for the Diocese, and of course every job nowadays has lots of in service training. Over a week I rarely work fewer than 45 hours and sometimes more than 55. It is an interested and varied ministry and most of the time I love it!