One of the most striking images from our holiday came learning about Charles Darwin who allowed a dangerous South American insect to bite him so he could monitor the rate at which it digested his blood. So, in the week after returning from holiday, my observation of the odds being stacked against me for this autumn have been objective and detached.
We look forward very much to a half-time Team Vicar joining us next month, but we announced the departure of our Curate just before we went away and heard about the announcement of the departure of the Team Vicar in our neighbouring parish as soon as we returned. While this is good news for both of them (and for the parishes near Louth and Skegness which will be receiving two impressive priests) it sharply reduces our resource of stipendiary clergy.
The last Diocesan Directory was published for 2006/7. For the two neighbouring Teams which cover most of Grimsby it lists six and half filled stipendiary clergy posts (serving 5% of the population of the diocese and seven churches). By November we’ll be down to two and a half.
And there is sharp evidence that the sorts of pressures this creates are already exacerbating the temptations of the parishes either side of this one to react to requests for Baptisms in a way those involved do not find supportive. In my first week back I had one family from each side approach me about whether we can help instead, with a mother in tears in one case, so dealing with more such casualties than usual may also be an additional feature this autumn.
No doubt others will be encountering casualties of whatever lack of attention or care this all provokes in me as well, but I probably won’t hear about them. All I will do now is sit back to see how much blood is wanted and how quickly people and the diocese come back for more.
The picture is another one of those taken in the greenhouse at Down House last month.