Reflections; part three

In the third of our series of reflections from Elected Officers, Vivian Nind has kindly taken the time to answer the following five questions;

  1. What did you expect?
  2. What was the reality?
  3. What were the biggest challenges?
  4. What were the highlights?
  5. What advice would you give to somebody considering taking on an elected role?

Vivian was churchwarden while John Newsome was our Chaplain.  She continues to be involved in many aspects of Church life, including running the annual Christmas lunch for older members and more recently, being instrumental in setting up the St Andrew’s telephone chat network as part of our response to the Covid situation.

First, the expectations
I had been Church Administrator for many years beforehand and so had not followed the usual path of being on the Council before being Churchwarden. I expected to have to be privy to things that were confidential and to have to see that disagreements were resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Then the reality.
I was right – It is a demanding job! Churchwardens are responsible for the welfare of their Chaplain. At the same time, they are the eyes and ears of the Bishop, so also responsible for the welfare of the people – one is on both sides. Consequently, one may have to be prepared to take a stand if there is a real problem. Those are the times when you pray, then do what you consider is right.
Finance was not my thing at all but that was all right because we had extremely competent people to deal with all that. Buildings was however and I continued to be on the Maintenance Committee for many years – clogged drains, rusting roof flashings, floods, Japanese Knotweed, organs being dismantled, pianos suffering from heat/cold, painting of the whole church, new church carpeting, incomprehensible heating controls, there was never a time without something needing urgent repair.

The challenges.
People never fail to amaze and rarely act as you would expect them to!

The highlights.
It was good to be part of the crew keeping the Good Ship St Andrew’s together. The Gospels came alive to me as we struggled with our different personalities, our belief, our goals – just as the disciples did.

Pearls of Wisdom.
I think one needs to know one’s own strengths and weaknesses – perhaps ask a good and honest friend. Downtrodden little mice will not fill the post but roaring lions will empty the church! Remember, you have your own gifts which God can use.
Loyalty to one’s Chaplain is essential; this does not, however, mean thoughtless agreement to everything he/she proposes.
A knowledge of the history of St Andrew’s and also a thorough knowledge of our Constitution are not only very helpful; they are essential – It is something that you learn quickly, or you quickly learn who can advise you! We are a legal entity, an Association, formed according to the Swiss Civil Code Art. 60 ff. Our Chaplains may be working in Switzerland for the first time and Churchwardens and Council members have a duty to help making sure our church, a guest in Switzerland, is run according to local regulations.
Finally, have a good relationship with your fellow Churchwarden and get to know the Council. Draw on the experience of the previous wardens – they may have been confronted with similar challenges in their own time.

At the forthcoming AGM, we will be electing a new Churchwarden, two new Council members and four new Archdeaconry Synod representatives. Candidates for these posts are nominated by members of the Electoral Roll.  Candidates must also be members of the Electoral Roll themselves, in order to be nominated.  If you are interested in taking on one of these roles, please do contact the office.

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