How NOT to be a Rector

IMG_3224I’m not perfect. I often get things wrong. However, I think I have plumbed new depths of What Not To Do as a new Rector….and I offer the resulting lessons to Incumbents, Associate Clergy, Curates, Ordinands and those considering Ordination….that you may not Do As I Have Done.

Do not, on your first day, give the notices, process to the back of the church, and wonder why a choir member is whispering urgently to you. You will have forgotten the Banns. There is nothing wrong with returning to the Vestry to retrieve the Banns book. However, it isn’t ideal if the congregation can hear you doing your best to break into the remarkably solid register cupboard, to which you have a key that so very nearly works when you are calm.

A good Rector will remember to get the Banns book out
before the service and take it with them when giving the notices. 

Do not take photocopying into the Church Hall with you during a Lent lunch. Or if you do, do the photocopying. Do not then leave the photocopying, with your keys, and disappear off to give a toddler a tour of the church before their baptism. Otherwise the Church Hall will be locked. And your Church Hall keys will be inside it.

A good Rector will keep administration and Lent Lunches
separate. And always put their keys in their pocket. 

This last one is the most important. Please pay special attention. Do not, when reaching for the Post Communion prayer at the end of Holy Communion, knock a lighted candle off the altar. The ensuing leap by your server to rescue it, and the church, will disrupt the calmly joyful atmosphere in which the Spirit has moved so wonderfully. And no-one, I repeat No-One, will ever believe that you weren’t trying to burn the church down, three Sundays into your Incumbency,

A good Rector will have their service books and papers
ordered neatly on the altar.

So there you have it. Rev’d Claire’s top tips for how not to be a Rector. I am very very blessed to have a congregation who find my idiocy amusing and bemusing rather than downright irritating. So far.

12 responses to “How NOT to be a Rector

  1. Oh bless your heart. Big hugs!
    You’ve had rather a lot on your mind, and there is much to get to used to so be as gentle with yourself as your congregation are! With each little ‘mistake’ you will learn something, source a way of dealing with a particular layout or administrative issue, and move on to pastures new.
    If we didn’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t learn, so I’m told.
    And yes, I’m sure a rooky curate will be adding to the ‘It shouldn’t happen to a…’ list in a few months time.

  2. In light of the last one, you should probably also remind the altar servers not to put a ton of gel in their hair when they’ll be carrying candles. No joke, one of the boys lit his own hair on fire Easter Sunday when I was a kid. Thankfully, the baptismal font was full.

    Seriously though, those don’t sound like major mistakes to me, just stories your parishioners will be fond of telling as you and your church grow. They’re like the awkward baby stories parents tell, embarrassing for you, great memories for parents.

  3. I expect your congregation are now discussing, over Sunday lunch, “I wonder what new Rector will do next??” – you have already set yourself a high standard to follow…… all fun, nothing disastrous and nothing that increases other people’s problems. I bet your people are already beginning to love you. xx

  4. A good Rector remembers that the Eucharistic prayer does not include “Likewise after supper he took the cup and broke it”
    Lovely stuff – you will be delighting them in so many ways 🙂
    Hugs xxxxx

  5. A good rector won’t allow a portable projector screen which is known to be difficult to raise or to lower to be used for a presentation about Christian Aid, instead of the sermon, unless it’s thoroughly tested before the actual time needed for use………….

    A good rector will ensure that the body microphone is switched off before whispering urgently to the server – I’ve forgotten the xyz – can you pop into the vestry and get it for me …………..

    A good rector will appreciate that someone new to reading the epistle might not be to familiar with the Lectern bible and will ensure that the correct pages are marked up with the ribbons to avoid the fumbling and swishing of pages as they are searched…………..

    A good rector won’t consecrate the largest chalice full of wine when there is a sparse congregation unless he/she really needs to consume a half-pint of fortified consecrated wine just before the baptism schedules an hours after the main service……….

    A good rector won’t dispose of all hymn books as we now use ‘powerpoint’ for services including hymns just in case of a power failure or projector failure………… hurriedly having to send someone to the parish office to print the unfamiliar hymns off in large numbers for the congretation…….

    Need I go on? The reality is these are things I’ve seen in different churches over the last year or so – and the Rectors, Vicars and Priests in Charge were actually very experienced incumbents, not someone just out of the factory?

    You have nothing to be defensive about. You’re busy, human and fallible just like the rest of us. Just ask me who having used his house and work keys as a book mark at work, 53 miles away from home, arrived home having left the keys in the books ………. and was locked out 😦

  6. Thanks all – I mitigated the fire risk at Evensong by not lighting the candles at all!!
    I think I am mostly causing chuckles rather than head-shaking, long may it continue 🙂

  7. a human Rector – a normal person – not a statue on a pedestal… sounds brilliant to me. Every parish needs one. 🙂

  8. She who never made a mistake, is she who never tried!! We think you’re lovely. V & K.

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