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THE VICAR'S LETTER:
Clergy Resources

Dear Parishioners,
First, may I say how happy we are to have Mr. Emerson and his family with us in Barton. We wish them every happiness here in the years ahead.
Secondly, may I make a rather belated thank you to all who contributed towards the Easter Offering this year. The inordinate delay in saying thank you is due to the rather complex way in which this is worked out, because of stewardship and Covenants. The total this year has been only a matter of shillings under £100. I am very grateful for your generosity.
Last month I ventured to write in this letter about the challenge which is facing the Church in Lincolnshire and throughout the country. Some of you may have seen or heard since then about the debates which took place a fortnight ago at the General Synod of the Church in London. The papers were plastered with such misleading headlines as ‘The Church wants more millions’. What local and national papers failed to make clear is that this new money is required to keep the Church solvent on its present footing. The real thing at issue is whether it is desirable that we should carry on as we are doing. There comes a stage with any sort of equipment when it is so out of date and in such a poor state of repair that it is no longer feasible nor desirable to continue, without some major and well-planned scheme for renewal. There are many who think that the structure of the Church as It is now, is no longer capable of doing its woik properly. They cite instances to support their argument like the ‘parson’s freehold’, the patronage system, the imbalance of clergy numbers between the countryside and the great towns and cities, and many more, all of which make strong ammunition with which to attack the present system. The gxeat problem is to find a really acceptable alternative. Most plans put forward would make the Church run like I.C.I. rather than as a recognisably christian community. Do we want a Church run by computer from a vast office block in the centre of London? If we do not, then it is up to us to bring forward some other real alternative. What is it to be?



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Perhaps we should avoid trying to produce some scheme which would fit kindly to every local situation throughout England, and rather concentrate on our own immediate area, this particular corner of North Lincolnshire (or South Hurnberside!). Can we arrive at a correct solution for a small area such as this which we know.
What are our local facts of the matter? Within our Deanery of Yarborough there are thirty-five parishes, each with at least one church. There are normally 16 or 17 clergy in the deanery. There are 6 diocesan lay-readers and 1 parochial reader who reside in the area. The Deanery is scheduled to pay tribute to the budget of the diocese of £5,355. The individual amounts vary between our own at £811 and Brigg at £610 to as little as £19 for one of the small villages.
How should the chuich in Yarborough face the future? One possibility would be for the smaller number of clergy, perhaps as few as 10 or 11 by 1980, to be based on the two larger centres of population at Barton and Brigg, working on a similar basis as many medical practices, with set areas of responsibility in outlying districts as well as fixed days and times in the individual communities. If this system were combined with current plans for an auxiliary ministry of local priests remaining in their secular jobs, there would be the practical possibility of maintaining a large part of the Sunday worship in the majority of the deanery’s churches. Yet it is clear that many may feel that system of having Church/ clergy centres would detract seriously from the pastoral work of the Church. With careful planning this need not necessarily be so.
Of course, this is only one possibility; there may be far better schemes. What is certain is that things cannot go on as they are without an area such as ours having far more than its fair share of the clergy and financial iesources of the Church lavished upon it. Nor can we deal with the decline in the numbers of clergy just by continuing to lump together odd parishes under a single priest in piece-meal fashion as the situation may present itself.
Nor can we cope with the challenge without resource to the great wealth of lay talent in the Church. There needs to be a great increase in adult education in the Church so that the clergy in full-time service in the Church may call on trained ancillary workers who are experts in a particular sphere, as well as having auxiliary priests and deacons working in the worship and pastoral work of the Church.
We have the opportunity to establish the Church on a realistic basis, fitting the pastoral and evangelistic needs of tomorrow. It is the opportunity which we must seize.
Yours sincerely,

Darrel Speedy

 

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