A legendary partnership

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Whilst overseeing services and events at St Andrew’s may often have put them in mind of a Rodgers and Hammerstein production, the sense of humour shared by these two wardens was just as likely to leave them giggling like Laurel and Hardy.

The combination of Amstutz and Long was thoroughly enjoyed by both wardens, such that it wouldn’t feel right to share one set of reflections without the other. Here then, are their answers to the “big five” questions;

What did you expect?
Robert: Having spoken to several previous Churchwardens, I was told that my job was to support the Chaplain as well as be a go between to the congregation

Lisa: To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect.  My impressions, from having discussed the role with the Chaplain, were that it wasn’t a particularly time consuming or onerous role and that an important part was to act as a sounding board for the Chaplain as he decided upon the best way to support the congregation.

What was the reality?
Robert: It is a common fact that every time a new Chaplain comes to a parish, his style of work and preaching does not satisfy some of the congregation who remember back  (30 years or more..) to the good old days of Rev XYZ. The reality was of spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with this and sifting out matters which the Chaplain actually could address.

In a former life, as a Bosun with the Ocean Youth Trust http://www.oytsouth.org/

Lisa: Coming from a sail-training background, I have occasionally found myself comparing the Wardens role to that of a bosun or a ships executive officer where, as the senior crewman of the deck you support the skipper by taking responsibility for the ship’s maintenance and the well-being of the crew. As a Warden, the main responsibilities have been to make sure that the buildings and facilities are maintained, the chaplain is supported and the congregation are both engaged and involved.  Fortunately, we have an excellent maintenance committee at St Andrew’s, which therefore allows the wardens to focus on keeping the Chaplain and the congregation on an even keel – Which sometimes takes a bit more time than I initially anticipated! 

Always the sensible one…

What were the biggest challenges?
Robert: The above, time commitment involved, particular challenges in one of the daughter communities and Paul’s long absence through illness. We were very lucky to still have the support of Nick Peacock during this period

Lisa: In the first year, we had to get ready for the implementation of GDPR data protection legislation, which was something of an administrative minefield.  Then we had an extended period when Paul was absent due to illness and we needed to keep things going until he returned. Luckily, during that time we were able to call upon our honorary Assistant Chaplain, Nick Peacock, who covered the majority of services in Paul’s absence. This year, because of Covid, I’ve discovered that not having a church or a congregation is even harder still than not having a Chaplain!  Whilst we were unable to meet, due to the Covid restrictions, Paul, Christian and I started video calling each other during the shutdown, sometimes several times a week.  We’ve found it’s a really good way of keeping in touch, so still hold a weekly video call with the three of us and also a weekly call with Ruth and Stephanie, whilst they continue to work remotely.

What were the highlights?
Robert: Working with my fellow warden Lisa. For some odd reason we thought very much alike, so did not need to waste time discussing details and could absolutely rely on each other. I was also very impressed with the support we received from other members of the congregation.

Lisa: It’s certainly not been boring! I’m constantly amazed at how people are always willing to help out in ways big and small (yet equally important).  It’s not possible to do the job alone and I’m immensely grateful to the many people who have lent a hand over the years, as well as those who have shared the benefit of their experience with me. 

What advice would you give to somebody considering taking on an elected role?
Robert: Go into it with your eyes open, do not be afraid to ask for advice from previous wardens and for help from others. Give what time you can and delegate tasks if necessary.

Lisa: It’s been fun and I’ve really enjoyed being able to get involved in so many aspects of church life.  The role will always expand to fit the time you have available though, so be prepared to ask for help and share the load.

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.

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