Saturday, 24 March 2007

Calling or Climbing?

The clocks leap forward an hour tonight and we enter British Summer Time. Note that the Empire is alive and well in our time-keeping. No "Daylight Saving Time" for Britannia, but good old BRITISH Summer Time. Pity our poor Colonial cousins with their bland Eastern Standard Time and the like.

And "in the good ol' summer time" I can step back a bit from the rant. So what if the pension plans are changing? I never started out on this ministerial path seeking financial security in work or retirement. If that had been my goal I would have stayed in secular employment. It was my choice to follow the Call as I perceived it, and as the Church ratified it. I could have walked away.

Some years ago, when seeking a move to a new post, I applied for a Team Vicar vacancy down on the north Devon coast. It was a superbly beautiful area, and the churches and people were very pleasant. Having waited for two hours whilst the Interviewing panel made their deliberations the Rector came out and told me that I had been unsuccessful. The reason given was that the panel did not think that becoming a Team Vicar after I had been “caretaking” an urban Team during a vacancy for the past two years was enough of a “step up the ladder”. They had failed to grasp that I have never sought to ascend any “ladder” of preferment. In contrast to some I trained with, who clearly had their sights set on reaching higher levels (one from my own Tutor Group is now an Archdeacon), I see myself as working in a parish setting until I retire. And then enjoying some freedom of offering assistance to a church without all the administration. Maybe one result of the pension changes is that since I no longer have to work to 69 to gain full entitlement, I am freed to retire earlier if I so wish.

That’s if I live that long, since that may not be in the plan …..

Friday, 23 March 2007

Oh yes, it's Spring ....

.... and everything in the garden's lovely.

Well, it is, actually.

So perhaps I ought to live in the garden .....

as a gnome ...

A job for life? (Hysterical laughter)

When I started my theological training I remember my Director of Ordinands saying to me, "You'll have a job for life, and the church will look after you to the end." This was just before they shafted me over the loss of my home. I was asked if I could find accommodation for the holidays whilst I was studying, and I said that I could go back to my parents. The deal was, if you give up securing your own future to work in the church, the church will provide for your future. Consequently I moved out of my little, comfortable, flat, put my belongings into storage, and for the next two years lived a nomadic lifestyle either in College "digs" or back in the parental nest. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I learnt that if I had said "No" to the question about holiday accommodation, the church would have paid the rental on my flat whilst I was in training. It still rankles.

Then as my second licensed post came to an end in 1996 I found myself still in the process of making applications for a new one. The Bishop refused to extend my licence, and I ended up down at the Employment Exchange drawing the "dole". They didn't have a category for an Anglican clergyman, so I had to be registered as a "Methodist minister". Well, I'm all for ecumenicalism. But so much for the promise of "a job for life!".

Now there's a revision of pension arrangements underway. From the time of my ordination in 1984 I have been aware that the church required 37 years of service to get the full pension. I knew that if I worked to the age of 69 I would just scrape in under the 70 years obligatory retirement level and get my full pension. But things are changing. The proposals are going forward that 40 years of service are required for a full pension. So I'm cut out of it. I shall never get the full entitlement as the goal posts have been moved. And what rubs salt into the wound is that the letter that accompanied this bit of news came with a response sheet since they wished to "consult" all the clergy before it went to General Synod. "Consult" be buggered. Their minds are made up, and this is nothing more than a political move so that they can say that we have been asked about the changes, and I said so on my reply form. What a waste of time, energy, effort and paper.

And then there's the lack of having any sort of stake in the housing market ....

Time for a very large Bacardi and coke.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Early spring

The last few days have been absolutely glorious! Warm sunshine, trees bursting into blossom, primroses, crocus and daffodils all coming out, and the windows open to let the fresh air of 2007 blow through the house.

And now all is set to change this coming week, with weather predictions of cold arctic gusts and wintry showers. It will be a shock to nature and to us, and just as I put away my thermals!

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Revelation 6: 12 (b)

Well, you try taking a picture of the moon with a normal camera .... but tonight's total lunar eclipse has been quite a sight.