By March 16, 2015 Read More →

Unusual home working jobs – the rural vicar

Unusual home working jobs - the rural vicar, The Revd Canon Andrew Hawes SSCToday I’m delighted to introduce the vicar of the parish I grew up in, Edenham, near Bourne in Lincolnshire.

I’ve wanted to feature a clergyman in this series for ages, and am grateful to Father Andy (full title The Revd Canon Andrew Hawes SSC) for taking the time from his very busy ministry to answer my questions about life as a rural vicar.

He lives with his wife Sian in the Georgian vicarage next to Edenham church. The vicarage also houses Edenham Regional House, which is available for residential retreats.

Father Andy, what’s it like to live somewhere that is so open to all comers? And to live a busy life in a house where other people come for retreat?
It all depends! If we are tired and if life has thrown up complications it can be hard work to be welcoming! If the guests turn out to be difficult in various ways – from faddy diets to expecting five star treatment – it can be wearing.

If we are struggling to be on top form and the guests are a challenge it can be a very sacrificial experience. We don’t actually take all comers – safeguarding is a big issue for us. We have, in the past, discovered we have guests who are on the sex offenders register!

But, we meet some fantastic people who enrich our lives. Like most of this ministry it is reciprocal – we receive as much, if not more than we give. There is tremendous satisfaction in seeing people benefit from being here.

Do you have a regular routine or is every day different?
I have a quite complicated weekly pattern which enables me to balance the two roles I have as Vicar of three parishes (eight separate villages), and warden of the retreat house.

Each day is topped and tailed by Morning Prayer with Holy Communion and Evening Prayer. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings I am in the parishes and the schools. Tuesdays is my day off, and Friday and Saturdays I am based at the house.

Sunday is my easiest day – three morning services and one evening: it is easiest because it is scheduled and people tend to leave me alone! Evenings are usually taken up with business meetings or visits.

The rural vicar - Edenham church and vicarageWhat are the high and low points in your week/month/year?
My family say I’m miserable all Lent! There are a few high points for me – Christmas Day, Easter Morning and The Parish Confirmation are annual high points.

High points of the week are first thing on a Sunday morning; I still have a real sense of excitement about Sunday worship.

Low points in the week are about 7.00pm in the evening when I have to wind myself to go out again – although I’m usually more buoyant when I arrive at my destination.

Low point of the month is the monthly meeting with the treasurer of the house trust!

You participate in all the life changes of your parishioners – how do you share your unique perspective and knowledge?
I don’t feel I have a unique insight – I am simply a messenger. My role is to pass on the message. My unique part in this is to discern what part of the message to deliver and how to do it.

Quite a lot of the time I haven’t a clue what to say or do and that is why it is so important it is not my wisdom or insight that people are reliant on. I have been here a long time and that means that I know people very well.

This allows me to be more direct and open with them than most priests would be able to. It is a huge privilege and responsibility to partake in the life-changing events in individuals and families and I feel this very keenly. I spend considerable time praying about all the situations I know of in the community.

Sometimes I have to challenge people about their actions. I not a person who likes conflict, and I certainly don’t look for it, but sometimes the message to people is ‘what you are doing is just plain wrong and you must sort yourself out or the consequences will be horrendous.’

The rural vicar - The Stable Chapel, Edenham Regional HouseAt what age do clergymen retire? How do they cope with losing their home as well as their calling?
Clergy in the Church of England must retire at seventy, although this can be extended on a yearly basis with the agreement of parishioners for up to two years.

Anglican clergy not only have to find a home when they retire they also have to cope with a considerable drop in living standards. Their pension is two thirds their stipend (roughly if they have served for thirty–five years plus), but out of this they have to meet housing costs they didn’t have to find whilst working!

That is why so many keep active – helping out in vacant parishes can produce some income. The church does provide rented housing and an equity sharing scheme – but these schemes are not significantly cheaper than secular options. But few of us entered ministry for the money and we do believe in a provident God!

What advice would you offer to someone interested in joining the Church?
Talk about it with as many people as possible. Make sure you gain a wide experience of the Church of England: it is such a varied body it almost inevitable there are all kinds of things about it you don’t know.

The priority in any discernment process is to get your spiritual life going: find someone you can trust to help you with this. There is no point in going forward with enquiries unless you are a regular and active member of a parish community. Be patient: it can take a long time!

work from home secrets

Edenham Regional House welcomes individuals and groups from any Christian tradition, or from none, for retreats, study, workshops, meetings, training events and team meetings of all kinds, including school governers and staff. (The Stable Chapel is shown in the photo above).

Father Andy’s blog is Edenhampatriarch.

Enjoyed this? Read about other unusual home working jobs, from a bookbinder to a custom bra maker, and many more!

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