The Parish of Green Street Green and Pratts Bottom

To Follow and Worship Jesus, Sharing His Love

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Rev. Michael writes:

Celebrating Priesthood

As I write this month, both Susan and I are about to celebrate 25 years of priestly ministry and we are going to celebrate that as a benefice at the end of June. Much has changed in the world in the past 25 years, but the role and nature of priest stays the same. I have lost count of the times that people jokingly say to me ‘What’s it like to work one day a week?’ and I always take that with good humour but I wonder how many of you really know what clergy do the rest of the week.

You may be surprised to learn that there is a kind of job description for a priest found in the text of the ordination service. It is quite long but it is worth repeating here. It says:

Priests are called to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent. With their Bishop and fellow ministers, they are to proclaim the word of the Lord and to watch for the signs of God’s new creation. They are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord; they are to teach and to admonish, to feed and provide for his family, to search for his children in the wilderness of this world’s temptations, and to guide them through its confusions, that they may be saved through Christ for ever. Formed by the word, they are to call their hearers to repentance and to declare in Christ’s name the absolution and forgiveness of their sins.

With all God’s people, they are to tell the story of God’s love. They are to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with them in the way of Christ, nurturing them in the faith. They are to unfold the Scriptures, to preach the word in season and out of season, and to declare the mighty acts of God. They are to preside at the Lord’s table and lead his people in worship, offering with them a spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. They are to bless the people in God’s name. They are to resist evil, support the weak, defend the poor, and intercede for all in need. They are to minister to the sick and prepare the dying for their death. Guided by the Spirit, they are to discern and foster the gifts of all God’s people, that the whole Church may be built up in unity and faith.


This ‘job description’ sums up well what priests are here for but there are lots of other things that take our time and energy during the week when you don’t see us on Sundays. We make pastoral visits to home and hospital, we prepare for and lead bible study groups. Like most people we also have administration and emails to deal with. We read and study and write articles (like the one you are reading now), we visit and support church groups like toddlers, memory café and others. We attend meetings about lots of things and are often trustees of charities. We visit schools for assemblies and welcome schools and other groups to church.

I could carry on but hopefully you will see that much of what we do goes on unseen by others. Being a priest is a vocation though and not a job in the true sense because once you are ordained you become a priest for good whether you are in a stipendiary role or not. It is important to note that clergy are paid stipends not salaries. The word stipend means a fixed regular sum of money paid for living expenses and that is how it should be understood. We don’t have an hourly rate and the stipend is the same whether you are priest in a tiny village community or a massive inner-city church with hundreds of members and numerous staff to manage.


The important point is that our calling as priests means we are there for people when they need us in times of crisis and in times of joy. We will be there for someone on their death bed in the middle of the night if they ask, so never be afraid to ask for us when you need us. It saddens me when people seem reluctant to ask me for something when they start the sentence with ‘You must be so busy, I am sorry to trouble you’. That happens more than it should.


Remember we are there for you and if you are able, please do come along on 30th June to celebrate with both Susan and I, as we mark 25 years in this wonderful ministry of priesthood.

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