Today’s reflections come from Vicky Atchison, who has served St Andrew’s in many roles, including Archdeaconry Synod Representative, Safeguarding Officer, Search Magazine Editor and (twice!) as Churchwarden.
It is an achievement in itself that, at one point, Vicky managed to fulfill three of these roles at the same time, whilst also organising the Christmas card stall for the Bazaar.
Nowadays, Vicky enjoys a quieter and far more peaceful life!
What did you expect?
I started my first stint with very little idea of what was required of me. The confidentiality, connected with the activities of a churchwarden, allowed for no information being passed on until after one is elected. During my second term of office, I was already aware of the basic activities and what lay in store for the next three years, i.e. the retirement of both chaplains, an interregnum and hunt for a new chaplain, the integration of the new chaplain in the chaplaincy and the total renovation of Church House!
What was the reality?
One of the most important responsibilities of a churchwarden is the well being of the Chaplain(s). This overrides all other considerations.
In my first term, the reality was a rapid learning curve. I was greatly helped by a retired churchwarden who leapt to my side. At the start of my third year, we had six months with only one churchwarden, which should be avoided at all costs. It’s too much for one pair of shoulders. In the second term, it was a case of getting on with the job which was totally time consuming and a test of endurance.
What were the biggest challenges?
A churchwarden is the recipient of all the problems and complaints of the community. Consequently, he/she must have a readily listening ear so people can say what is worrying them. This in its turn requires endless patience and compassion and complete confidentiality. Chatterboxes have no place in such a position.
What were the highlights?
It is difficult to pinpoint particular highlights, but the successful Church House renovation and the raising of the necessary funding to finance it were definitely a source of satisfaction. If you can finish the term of office with the feeling of a job well-done, then you are well rewarded.
What advice would you give to somebody considering taking on an elected role?
My first elected role was as an Archdeaconry Synod representative, which brought me on to the chaplaincy council. This opened my eyes to the wider church in Switzerland and led me on to Europe – the Diocesan Synod and its Finance Committee and Strategic Review Group based in London. These responsibilities overlapped with the periods as churchwarden. Luckily, my children were already adults, so I was free to devote a lot of time to these activities. Time is of the essence so don’t take on something that requires flexibility of availability if that is not possible. If, however it is feasible, grab the opportunity with both hands. It opens a new world to you.
At the forthcoming AGM, on the 6th September, 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.