I’ve mentioned before that I am currently a churchwarden and that, since our Rector moved away in February, we have been advertising for a new priest for our church and the other five in the benefice. A fortnight ago, two people were interviewed for the post. Entirely reasonably, the interviewing panel was asked not to disclose the result, as it is customary for priests planning to leave their parishes not to tell their parishioners they are job-hunting; therefore the news is given to both sets of churchgoers on the same day.
I have just received an email authorising me to tell the congregation, on Sunday, the result of the interviews.
Now, this has been an open secret from the outset because, in fact, it was decided not to appoint any of the candidates.
So what I ask myself, you, or anyone who listens to me, why have we had to wait two weeks and a day to let the news out? It was proper and courteous to tell the candidates first, but that was done the same day. It is surely a different situation from one where a candidate had to decide whether to accept, discuss it with his/her family, talk to the bishop, then choose the most appropriate time to release the news, which could possibly take a couple of weeks.
I have a feeling that it is a symptom of the general self-regard and ‘we know best’ attitude of the church, or rather ‘the Church’ that keeps so many pews empty all over the country. Keeping it secret for the sake of it, pointlessly.
I’ll tell the congregation on Sunday, but I’ll only say what I think if anyone asks me directly – ‘for lying, she knew, was a sin’ as Tom Lehrer put it.