Thursday, 4 February 2010


It seems such a long time ago I was writing posts about searching for a local church to attend.

I settled on Nearest Church, partly because of the warm welcome given me by the congregation there. I haven't been disappointed.

I've had some quality mentorship and guidance from the organist there; I am involved in choir directing, choosing hymns, and pretty much anything to do with music. I've been practising the organ and playing for services occasionally when Networking Organist can't be there. The choir, like the congregation, is small but caring.

Gentle Vicar has been on sabbatical for the last few months, so I haven't gotten to know him any better. Having visiting clergy has been interesting, but I'm looking forward to his return.

Delightful Reader I was shy of at first, but we are slowly getting to know one another. She is also very supportive, but in a different way than Networking Organist is.

It isn't all kittens and cookies...there are issues. There are parishioners who would really rather have a Resolution C parish, and stayed away when we had a female priest the other week. There are parishioners who don't get on with other parishioners, new arguments and ones that have been running for years. I think I've managed to stay clear of them so far but it's only a matter of time...But we rub along, somehow. We all need grace. One bread, you know?

I find myself struggling not to jump in and provide admin support. I can do the work; I worked in a synagogue for a few years, I grew up in a house with clergy in it, some of my best friends are church folks, and I'm reasonably competent with computers as long as someone will proofread for me.

But me taking over the secretarial work would not be best, in the long run. I know from past experience that office work is, ultimately, something that makes me very unhappy. I know I have difficulty with long-term follow-up on paperwork tasks, and I struggle with that enough in the secretarial side of my own work. Longer-term, I would be a poor secretary, but having me do the work for free would block progress toward a sustainable solution for them and block my own progress in work that is meaningful and fulfilling.

Yet, it needs to be done. It isn't any more fulfilling for the people who are doing it now. Most of the world is run by people doing what needs to be done, rather than what brings meaning to their lives, and why should I be any different? The perfectionist in me hates to see it being done badly, too -- not that I'd do it perfectly, but I see errors that are avoidable. So I find myself wondering whether there is some way that I could help without taking over, some way I could help streamline some processes and document others in such a way that people can do them without as much stress and fuss as now.

I am biding my time on this. I am waiting until Gentle Vicar is back, and has been back for a while. Much has changed in this community and it will take time for it to settle. If there's no sign of improved admin after 6 months I'll say something.

The musical situation is similar, in some ways. Networking Organist is not paid for the choir rehearsals or the admin work he does in connection with the choir (the sort of thing that might reasonably be passed to a secretary, if such a thing existed). He is paid below what is usual for the service on Sunday mornings. The choir is small and lacks confidence, though they are enthusiastic when given reason to be.

But with this, I can build something. I don't mind doing most of the work for free, because I'm learning a huge amount. Because of my training, because of the guidance Networking Organist gives me, because of my experience, I'm in a position to meet people where they are and show them a bit of what they can do. Networking Organist is really great -- when he puts me in a leadership position he is absolutely supportive, with any suggestions being made entirely behind-the-scenes and any questions from choir members referred to me. People seem to be responding. I have ideas for a children's choir and various other projects, and I'm being given the freedom to take my time figuring out what I want to do, even as I'm having one or two small things dropped on me when I'm ready.

At the same time, I go to Long Walk Church for Morning Prayer a couple of times a week if my dodgy hip (which has been very good recently) will let me, and although I've not been there for some time, I haven't lost sight of Church-by-the-Station. I'm not spreading my bets, exactly, or looking for another community -- for the time being I am committed to attending Nearest Church and getting involved there -- but these other connections are not to be abandoned. I've not worked out what I have to offer in these other contexts, but they seem important. I keep visiting Leafy Suburb Church when I can, though I'm never quite sure whether I want to go to see Ambassador for Compassion or because of some other gentle yearning for the warmth and caring of the community there. That connection seems important too.

I can't write about most of this stuff in any detail without destroying what anonymity I retain here, and I want to keep that anonymity so that when I do need to write about the difficult stuff, I can do so without fear of professional repercussions.


Ernest said...


It is encouraging to read your blog, moving softly, one step at a time, and not discarding any option - sounds like a journey on a pathway towards God.

I can understand you wish not to become bogged down in Admin, I have provided some support to my church, using financial skills to audit accounts etc. But I am trying hard not to be deflected my the path I feel called to follow.

I just see you being a Gift to any church, where God calls you to be with, not just for the music, but just by your presence - you will encourage others on their journeys.

I will continue to pray that you are able to discern where you path is leading, but in God's own time, he is not in any rush.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you, Ernest.

Jan said...

This sounds peaceful and good.