Since my last post about our ‘vicar’ who didn’t wear a lot on a Sunday, my dear friend Hazel kindly gave me a lesson by email called Church of England for Dummies.
I love going to the church as I’m a bit vain. I enjoy being the youngest adult for a day, though I’ve noticed some strands of white hair have already started sprouting when I look at the mirror. Old ladies would speak to me adoringly, the way they speak to an oriental foreigner. “I’ve been to China, you know? I climbed the Great Wall. Oh, those pandas in Sichuan. Aren’t they gorgeous?” Some gentlemen would take me back to the glory of the British empire, their postings in the Far East, the colonial styled Raffles Hotel in Singapore and all that. (Oh, don’t forget the awful Changi Prison!)
However, though being in the church for a few years, I’m still ignorant of the structure of the church. For example, I thought a ‘READER’ is someone who reads out the Bible during the service. There used to be a speaker with a strange title as ‘Captain’. I thought most trained ministers in the church are called vicars. Apparently, I’m quite wrong.
According to Church of England for Dummies by my friend, Hazel,
“Fiona is a priest whose local title is Associate Vicar. Technically, there is one Vicar (sometimes called a Rector, especially in country districts). He or she is the incumbent, which means that he or she is in charge of the parish. All other priests work under this person and are actually assistant curates according to the Church of England regulations. However, local titles, such as Associate Vicar, can be bestowed by the Bishop.”
“Some priests, such as Lynda Bunting are Self-supporting Priests – in other words, they are fully qualified but work unpaid. Deacons are people who have been trained at theological college and are working in a parish for a year (or longer) before being consecrated as priests by the Bishop. Michael was a Deacon when he came to us. They all have the title Reverend (Rev. or Revd.)”
“In multiple benefices – groups of parishes – there is often a Team Ministry comprising several priests working together, though one of them is usually put in charge of the others.”
“Michael Smith comes from an Anglo-Catholic background – what is commonly known as High Church in the Church of England. Anglo-Catholic services follow Common Worship for communion as we do, but there is much more emphasis on robes, incense, ceremony and bells etc and often a strong music tradition.”
“Worship must be a beautiful offering to God and there is an emphasis on the sacraments. As in the Roman Catholic churches, many Anglo-Catholics like to attend formal confession to a priest, particularly before important services such as Christmas and Easter mass. (Communion or Eucharist is usually referred to as Mass in these churches).”
“Ian and Fi come from the evangelical wing of the Church of England and would put more emphasis on bible teaching and preaching than on sacraments and prefer simpler, unrobed services.”
“A Reader is a lay (as opposed to clergy) person who has undergone several years of training and is then licensed to work in a parish. Readers can preach and teach and do pastoral work and take funerals, but they cannot officiate at baptisms or consecrate the bread and wine for communion – only an ordained priest can do these things.”
“Generally, our parish is ‘middle of the road’ being neither evangelical (apart from Church@four or anglo-catholic.”