I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but our Rector left last autumn to take on a new parish. Apparently, we have a candidate for the appointment and we’re meeting him or her on Monday – I’m not very involved in church things, whatever it looks like, so the news has just caught up with me and I’ve been invited along (as has the Sage, but he has another engagement). I don’t really approve of the way church appointments are made. The Bishop chooses the short list, which often comprises one candidate, then there’s an interview, but it’s very much a supervised affair, so the churchwardens and other interested people don’t really have a free hand. And, not seeing the applications, one isn’t given background knowledge and there might be reasons for putting someone forward for a post that don’t put the parish first. I’m sure the Bishop tries very hard to put a round peg in a round hole, but more openness would be better, not least because plans could be made for mutual support before problems arise – which usually result in parishioners having found another church to attend or opted out altogether. Of course it can work the other way and a successful minister gives a feeling of spiritual and/or practical support and encouragement, which brings more people in. It’s not just a matter of bums on pews, but if someone comes along once in a while, they’re quite sniffy if there aren’t fresh flowers, a warm church and an equally warm welcome, with a tidy and well-mown churchyard to boot, even if they never give time or money towards providing or supporting them. Right now, we only have one service a month when we can be sure of having double figures in the congregation, and then there are often at least forty – but it’s a family do, very informal, we serve breakfast first and, although the people who come love it, they wouldn’t come every week because young families are busy on a Sunday. And most of the older people – except for a few who come with their grandchildren – don’t like it at all. I don’t mind, but I’m easy-going, and even I don’t feel as if I’ve been to church. Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be reading the lessons at the short formal service beforehand, helping with coffee and breakfast and then playing the clarinet. And you’ll notice I’ve not mentioned God at all. Nor am I going to.
If you’ve lasted this far, Ben is getting on very well. His main fault is pulling hard on the lead, so I went and bought a Halti, which my mother found was marvellous with her dogs. And it did stop him pulling, but he hated it and spent a fair bit of time trying to get it off him. So later, just taking him for a quick trot round the village, I didn’t have the heart to put it on him and, instead, used Tilly’s extending lead, and that worked pretty well too. Whichever I find is best, I hope to have him a lot more controllable by the time he goes back home – Gill is going to be quite nervous of walking him for a while. He’s pretty well behaved otherwise and has an exceptionally sweet nature. I’ll walk him into the town in the morning to fetch the Sunday papers, unless the weather is awful.