A week in the life...

Rector’s Letter
The Rectory, November 2002

Revd Canon Andrew DeucharIn the course of that most enjoyable yet poignant event in September when we all bid our fond farewells to Eileen and Jim McLean, Eileen said that she doubted if very many people really had much idea of what the daily life of the clergy was like. Certain things which have been said to me since then have reinforced that view, so I thought it might be enlightening, and even mildly interesting, if I just laid out for you what a random week from my diary looked like. This is not designed to evoke expressions of sympathy from anyone, but rather just to try and give a flavour of what we get up to in a city centre church. So here goes:


Fran is off to look after her Dad for a couple of days while her Mum is away. She leaves more or less as I go down to St Peter’s to preside at the 8am Communion service. I get away from church at about 8.45am and go into the office to print off my sermon for the 10.45am service (having finished the preparation at about midnight the night before). I get home for a bite of breakfast, before returning to church for 10am to see people and to prepare for the 10.45am service at which I preside and preach. The confirmation class that follows for five of our young people is supposed to begin at 12.15pm but it is always difficult to extricate myself, and it is nearer 12.30pm before we begin. We have a look at the subject of prayer, and the group have lots of interesting things to say, as well as lots of biscuits to eat! I manage to get a visit in on Sunday afternoon, but also have to prepare a meditative address for the evening service. Iona liturgy - lovely; and then another visit after the service.


Normally a day off, but we need the time to shortlist candidates for our new post of Parish Administrator. So, having lost part of the day (and since Fran is away) I have also agreed a meeting with Refugee Action, a government-funded body seeking to support asylum seekers and refugees. They are hoping we might be able to host a weekly drop-in centre for women asylum seekers in the St James’ Room, mirroring a facility housed in Leicester Cathedral.

The shortlisting goes well, and from twenty-four applications we are ready to invite five for interview - but it’s a long process. In the evening I go round to John Perkins House, part of the All Saints’ complex, to remove a lot of rubbish and try to sort out furniture which needs to be given or thrown away.


Zip up to All Saints’ for the 8.30am Communion, and then back to St Peter’s for the 9.15am gathering of clergy from city centre churches - we pray together once a week, and have a short time to exchange news and discuss issues. The Footprints team are due in at 11am. Before then I must get the letters out to candidates for the Administrator’s post, and letters to referees and to unsuccessful applicants. I then see a member of the parish who is going to take on Home Communions, preside at the lunchtime Communion Service, see one of our Readers, and then meet with Hilary Evans for further discussions about the interviews for the Parish Administrator. Although the evening is blank in the diary, I end up visiting the hospital.


Wednesdays begin early with a Communion service in the seminar room at 8am. Very quiet and reflective, with rarely more than one or two others present. A rush to try and get details of Sunday services - Harvest Festival coming up - sorted out before going off to the bi-monthly meeting of all deanery clergy (Chapter) - except that only a small number turn up, which is disappointing. There is so much going on in the deanery at the moment, and we really need to co-ordinate with one another. I was supposed to be going to a training event at lunchtime on ‘Violence and Challenging Behaviour’ at Highbury Hospital, but I just couldn’t make it because there was so much to get through at Chapter. I get back to the office just in time for the meeting of the Standing Committee of the PCC, which lasts for an hour and a half. The evening should take me to a meeting of the Magazine Committee, but I’ve had to arrange a visit to a family who are wanting a baptism later in the month. If I want to see both parents - and I do - it usually has to be in the evening, but there are very few evenings that are free…


I try to get some work done at home in the first hour or so of the morning, but a number of phone calls interrupt that! I preside at the 11am Communion Service, which has a very good congregation - we often do a little study course after the service over coffee; but we’re resting at the moment! Plenty to talk about however! And then I have to rush off to meet someone for lunch who may be able to contribute to this continuing debate about violence in our city, which is becoming of more and more concern. Unfortunately he doesn’t turn up - but I have a very interesting conversation with the bar staff instead! Return home to await call from the company fitting a burglar alarm at the Assistant Rector's house to be shown how to work it. Then get out to make two visits. And also one in the evening…


Communion service at the Sisters, when we have up to ten people present, and Pippa and Irene give us breakfast afterwards - a lovely way to begin the day. Friday morning has always in the past continued with a staff meeting. With Eileen going I arrange instead to meet with David McCoulough in the office - but get held up at home by phone calls, so everything gets behind. I have arranged to meet another of our Readers later in the afternoon, so use the early part to try to catch up with some admin.


Turns out to be a hectic day! I am asked to go out to see a parishioner who lives quite a long way out of town - but it is Goose Fair, and the traffic is terrible. Getting there is OK, but getting back… and I need to call at the City Hospital as well, where someone else has had a bad turn; but the ACORNS (Toddlers Group) are having their Harvest Service at 3pm, and thanks to the traffic, I just get in to St Peter’s in time. But the service is great, and run entirely by others! Then the people setting up for the showing of the Hitchcock film ‘The Farmer’s Wife’ arrive, and there is other setting up to be done. I leave church at about 5pm, and need to be back for 6.45pm. But when am I going to prepare my Harvest sermon? The film is a great success, with around seventy people - a wide range of ages - but then the clearing up must be done so that Trevor doesn’t find everything a mess on Sunday morning! Fran and I get home at 11.15pm. And still the sermon must be prepared!

Well, folks, that’s what that particular week looked like. Another one would be quite different. There is very little continuity week by week or even day by day. But I hope it gives a flavour of what we are up to; and if we are hard to get, it is not because we are being wilfully obstructive!

Andrew Deuchar

© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 7th November 2002