Bishop of Hereford's Article - Hereford Times 01/02/18
Have you been watching A Vicar’s Life on BBC 2 on Friday evenings, featuring four clergy from the Diocese of Hereford?
I admit that I’m biased, as I know well the four vicars and have a very high regard for them. But if you haven’t seen it yet, I do want to encourage you to watch the remaining episodes and indeed to catch up with the earlier ones on iPlayer.
If I had £1 for every time people say that we live “in a beautiful part of the world”, I could probably fund all the church repairs necessary across the diocese. Yes, we do live in a beautiful part of the world and A Vicar’s Life shows that to be the case, but we also know that behind the natural beauty, people in Herefordshire and Shropshire have just the same issues as everyone else, indeed sometimes made worse by isolation and the remoteness of rural areas. That’s the context of A Vicar’s Life.
The first thing that struck me about the programmes is that the ministry of the four vicars is based on relationships. Admittedly, all four of them are particularly good with people, but the point is that they are not dealing remotely with theoretical ideas. The job of a vicar is about people.
Secondly, all four of them are seen to be at ease talking about God. We see them involved in all sorts of practical things, but it is all an outworking of their response to God’s call. I haven’t had the impression they have felt the need to talk about God all the time, as if not to do so would be a failure, but where appropriate they can naturally do so. The job of a vicar is about God.
Any television series is selective and can only give a snap shot. I am thankful that there are other churches besides the Church of England. Furthermore the church is much more than vicars – indeed, the job of vicars alongside their own involvement in their parishes, as A Vicar’s Life shows, is to encourage and equip the rest of the church to live out their faith.
Thank you to the two Matthews, Nicholas and Ruth. You took a risk allowing the cameras to follow you around for six months. In so doing, you have certainly encouraged the churches locally; I believe you have encouraged the whole community too.
+Richard Frith – Bishop of Hereford.