Letter: A caricature light years from real vicars

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have yet to meet the Rev Chasuble - the 'amiable old duffer in dog-collar and cream linen jacket at the garden party' - caricatured by Bryan Appleyard ('Vicars: who on earth needs them?', 28 April). Certainly, there was none at the Bristol diocesan clergy conference this week when we tussled with how belief, worship and lifestyle fit together. None of these clergy was complacent about the Church or the world.

The great majority of vicars and other clergy in the Church of England are light years away from the picture of a fossilised museum piece. Today's clergy are part of a parish team where vicar, lay reader and other members work closely together. They lead worship, help people to understand their lives in relation to deep realities and reach out into the community with quietly effective care.

In most parishes, the vicar will be one among several people skilled at communicating the faith of our fathers and interpreting it for contemporary needs. His is not the 'lonely job' that Mr Appleyard suggests now that, compared to 25 years ago, there are more people at Holy Communion, more involved in Church life and just as many coming forward for ordination.

For some time, women's ministry has been part of parish life and, when women become vicars in future years, a new dimension of priesthood will be part of the English scene. To judge by the women who are now deacons, this will be anything but dull.

Yours sincerely,

BARRY BRISTOL

Advisory Board of Ministry

General Synod of the

Church of England

London, SW1

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