Several lives in a day

Rather a breathless rush today.  We did a 7 am start to drive to Keswick for the Memorial Service for Penny.  Penny was the wife of my cousin John and a remarkable person – an artist and a supreme enricher of the lives of her family.  As John told the congregation, ‘Not many people would receive a terminal diagnosis and move on to conduct a bible study on heaven.’

Back to Perth in time for Patrick’s Institution at St John’s, our church in the city centre of Perth.  It’s a great moment for the congregation and for us as a diocese – as we receive another bright, active and experienced young priest.  The Vestry and congregation did everything possible to make Patrick and his family welcome.  I felt a bit wistful and sentimental as I watched Patrick and Alison and their two young children making the commitment to the kind of long term ministry which will give their children stability as they grow up – and I thought about 1986 when Alison and I made exactly the same kind of commitment to Seagoe Parish with our young children.  Parochial ministry is almost never easy.  But it is the richest background imaginable against which to work out your family life and child rearing.  At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


  1. Oops! Caught out allowing myself a little quiverful heterosexual triumphalism. Sorry. And, worse still, indulging in some misty eyed stuff about parochial ministry now that I don’t have to do it any more. And, of course, the reality is neatly expressed in both comments. When it’s good it’s very very good – but when it’s bad it’s horrid and personally destructive.

  2. I think the other side of the coin is also relevant and should be stated, +David – namely that in the church’s knowledge and experience the parochial ministry is the often the scene of and perhaps reason for many unhappy marriage and family break-ups. Or am I too negative?

  3. Good to hear this endorsement of parochial ministry. Am currently reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s memoir “Leaving Church” which details her decision to exit pastoral ministry, so this was a helpful – and necessary – antidote to that. Your piece reminded me of Harry Emerson Fosdick saying on his retirement “If I had a thousand lives to live in this century, I would go into parish ministry with every one of them”. Thank you.

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