Fr Ian writes
Apparently October is Clergy Appreciation Month. At least it is in the United States, and I’m sure it would do no harm to extend the observation across the Atlantic to England. Undoubtedly it does good to let clergy and their families know you appreciate and affirm them. Many work tirelessly, in difficult and challenging circumstances.
If you want ideas for showing your appreciation there is even a creative guide to help you. Have a look! Click here to read it.
Looking back I realise that the clergy whom I have appreciated and valued most have been parish clergy who have done their best to love for and care for their people, and to take care with worship and prayer. I appreciate the faithfulness and integrity of a priest like Fr Frank Lumsden who when I was a boy in a remote Teesdale parish inspired me by his gentle loving care. He was a shy man who had come from humble origins to ministry and dedicated himself for many many years in one remote country parish. I appreciate the prayerfullness, example and inspiration which Fr Derek Allen gave me as I considered ordination. A former theological college principal whose quiet, prayerful and loving manner gave him some difficulties at times, later he faithfully, with energy, and openness to God’s spirit served as a parish priest in a busy Eastbourne parish.
Now as an Area Dean as I see my sister and brother clergy in our very deprived deanery I am very encouraged when I see the love, prayer and care they give to their people and parishes. Thank you to them. Many of our parishes struggle in difficult circumstances yet many of the clergy work tirelessly in them often encouraging others, caring for them and in it all maintaining a personal good spirit.
Times change and in some places there seems a loss of sense of purpose within the Church. As with many secular institutions words such as reorganisation, strategies, leadership, vision, management, training courses… are much more commonly found on agendas than once they were. Some of these will get in the way of the day to day work, prayer and care of clergy, some help.
Whatever, in this Clergy Appreciation Month, I want to say thank you and say how much I appreciate the faithfulness, self sacrifice, pastoral care and prayer of so many parish clergy in the Church of England, and I hope many people will express their appreciation and encouragement to parish clergy.