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Hallo again to all.

When a senior parish priest, rector or vicar, comes to a congregation, it is typically expected that they will remain in that position until they retire or it is mutually decided that time spent has been long enough and that cleric will move on. The cleric, during his time in the parish, will lead worship, preach, teach, counsel, and perform sacraments as it has been for generations. Then there are those times when the split is less desired - congregations closing or merging or the death of the cleric. More challenging times still, are those when the relationship between cleric and the congregation are dissolved less amicably and with hostility.

In recent times many of these circumstances have become more widely known. Early last year we wrote of bullying in churches — citing Maynard's When Sheep Attack and Judy Winegar Goans' essay On conflicts in the church and exploring situations of clergy bullying each other. Even further there are times when clerics, musicians, or parishioners need to be removed for reasons of sexual or physical abuse. Those are among the saddest in the church for all involved, and we are thankful that the episcopal authorities are making attempts at creating response teams and hiring consultants for work with all involved.

However, we tend to think of this as a modern issue. A situation developed out of the reactive personalities more prevalent in our own time, the result of constant media and better information dissemination. Previously this was the sort of thing tucked away do be discussed quietly — and only then by those who need hear it. Earlier this week, while doing some research on an Episcopal (USA) parish, founded in 1722, we were surprised upon finding the below paragraph in a parochial report of the 1867 Diocesan Convention Journal:

The late Rector, after nearly ten year's residence, and many earnest prayers and arduous labors for the welfare of the Parish, has reason to believe that severance of the connection between himself and it will prove of mutual benefit. He, therefore, leaves the Parish to other hands and other instrumentalities; devoutly hoping that his successor may be found more faithful and more successful; that his efforts for the spiritual prosperity of the Parish may be more highly appreciated and more fully rewarded; that the hearts of the people will receive a new impulse in holy things, and befitted with that spirit of charity and Christian love which 'suffereth long and is kind.' and enables us to fulfill the golden rule of 'doing unto others as we would they should do unto us.'

This was submitted to the Synod/Convention of the diocese to be published for all to see, and preserved for posterity, and distributed to all of the congregations during that time, and now exists in a bound volume in the archives to be found by an unsuspecting archivist or researcher.

O to be able to read between the lines — or at least to be able to read the vestry/parochial council minutes for those years!

This is by no means the first bit of snark preserved for posterity—the invective poetry of Martial or Catullus come to mind—nor will it be the last. We have written extensively on snark in the past, and its place in the Anglican world, the word itself coming to us from the work of the Revd Mr Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Deacon, better known as Lewis Carroll, himself known for his unique and cloaked phraseologies.

We would like to close, then, in the spirit of Anglican snark, Tom Brown's translation of Martial's 32nd epigram. It was directed at John Fell, then dean of Christ Church, Oxford and later Bishop of Oxford, who had expelled Brown but offered him a chance at readmission if he could translate the Latin ex tempore:

Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare:
hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te*

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why — I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well;
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

See you again next week.

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28 May 2017

* The Latin, translated a tad more literally: 'I don't like you, Sabidius, and I can't say why: I can say only this, I don't like you.' Though the translation is true, the story itself is likely apocryphal. Brown, other than for this poem, has faded into historical obscurity and there is no record of his having recieved a degree from Oxford. For an illustrated version of the poem see Tripp, Wallace, A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me: A Book of Nonsense Verse. Little Brown & Co, 1973.

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