"Oh go away we can't be bothered - we're busy with Holy Week"

My good pal is a Wiccan. Her brother and sister joined a cult. Their mother was a regular church goer in the seventies, eighties and nineties, until a stroke sadly claimed her mobility.
For ten years she was paralysed and did the church keep in touch? No. They didn't know about her.
Vicars came and went and had all kinds of rants about the pews, (get rid..no keep...no get rid) how everyone in the town was a materialistic pagan, (true) and how nobody ever came to church unless they put up a Narnia exhibition, (so they did that a lot)….

I have no idea who is the leader of the church right now.... but I do know that my Wiccan pal was nervous about their mother's funeral.
The mother wanted to have her funeral at the church she had attended, and my Wiccan pal said to me, "Will you have a word with the women who will be conducting the funeral service? Tell her about my mother, so that she has an idea about what to say?"
I tried.
I phoned
I emailed
I dropped in and hoped for signs of compassion or interest or anything vaguely human really

When I eventually got a response, I got this conversation.

"All I need is ten mins of your time, to talk about Mrs Good"
"We're too busy, its Holy Week"
"But …..you didn't know her.... and her daughter has asked me too"

"Do you really think that this is any of your business? Like I said, it is Holy Week.. and we are busy. Mrs Good's daughter can email me with details"

"Sandy, Mrs Good did ALOT for this church before your time, so please allow me to fill you in.... It won't take long, and it would mean a lot to us all if you could mention all that she did as a volunteer"

"Look, who do you think you are?"
"Well, I did a lot for the church too, . so"
"Like I said, We are busy. It is holy week"


Sandy did a good general funeral service - and - I suspect she has a one size fits all sermon.... but if she had allowed me ten mins of her time, then I think the despair and disgust that went along with the event, would have been lifted. But no. She was busy with Holy Week.
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Comments

  • Why was it up to me to "have a word with Sandy?" Well, although Mrs Good was a Christian, her children were not - and - did not wish to engage in conversation with anyone at the church. As a long term family friend, I was asked to "communicate with them", because although I gave up on church in the 90's, I did at least have a respect for it all and for Mrs Good's long years of volunteer service to the church. So that is why I tried to contact Sandy, during Holy Week....
    Silly me. Busy with Holy Week is code for "go away"...
    I think I will put it on my answering machine. I can't take your call - I am busy with Holy Week. (Or perhaps I should say.... I'm busy with Holy Weaklings)
    It would have been more honest if Sandy had said, "Look sunshine, I've got a one size fits all funeral speech for complete strangers and Mrs Good's adult kids will have to have that.... they're all going to hell anyway, so what does it matter? "
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Ouch!
    Why am I not surprised?
    My ex-Minister is so busy with Holy Week she didn't even hold a Palm Sunday service!
  • Using a funeral director as an intermediary can be a good strategy.
  • Galilit wrote: »
    Ouch!
    Why am I not surprised?
    My ex-Minister is so busy with Holy Week she didn't even hold a Palm Sunday service!

    That's awful..... I bet the church donkey didn't get a look in either.
  • Using a funeral director as an intermediary can be a good strategy.

    Yes indeed.
    But it would have been nice if Sandy had taken the time to be respectful of a woman who had contributed her time to the community, including the church. Its the dismissive lack of respect that upset me, mostly because Mrs Good's adult children probably expected that from that particular church.
  • FredegundFredegund Shipmate
    Not knowing the people, can't comment on the specifics. However, from experience, an overworked and probably disorganised clergy person might ask for an e-mail so they can cut and paste it into their one-size-fits-all sermon. The minister at my mother-in-law's funeral certainly did that - I recognised her daughter's speech patterns.
  • Wow!

    That's not so much missing the point as not even knowing where the point is or what it looks like. Too busy preparing for Holy Week to be a Christian.

    I am wondering what a materialistic pagan is. The pagans I know (and I'm in Glastonbury so I know a few) are not at all materialistic.
  • Sucky sucky sucky sucky sucky.

    IMHO that kind of thing ought to be grounds for church discipline against the minister (I am not calling such a person a "pastor") with possible dismissal for endangering the welfare of someone God loves. Not just because it was appalling (lack of) human care, but because it was repeated.
  • BabyWombatBabyWombat Shipmate
    No matter how tired one is, no matter how busy the week, Holy Week, Christmas week, or any other, one in that position responds with love, caring and above all a personal presence. The temptation to say "I'm too busy" is ever there, and it must be avoided. That, for me, is part of the call to ministry. It is not a job with defined hours, it is a reflection of that greater love we celebrate at this Holy Week - Easter season. I wonder, might Jesus have said "I've no time for this now"?
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    The cure of all of the souls in the parish(es) is expected of a priest, and although this means finding time when there is no time, we can see what happens when it is neglected. There is certainly room for more inclusion of lay people into all aspects of ministry, to share the load.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited April 14
    A salutary tale.

    As a lay minister, with PTO at funerals, but (like the clergy) busy during Holy Week, I wouldn't dream of brushing someone off in this manner, and I know that my Vicar wouldn't, either.

    Yes, it might just be necessary to gently say 'I'm rather busy at the moment - can I get back to you in a day or two?', but what grates in the OP is not so much what was said, as how it was said.

    WWJD? He'd make time (but then, He did anyway, didn't He?) :wink:
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Wow. I find this story interesting because I know of a similar story that happened within the year.

    A lady I knew, very sparky and engaged even at the ripe age of ninety-nine, finally reached her end days. She was a life long Roman Catholic and attended, when she could manage it, a large-ish RC church that wasn't her actual parish because the bigger church was more handicapped accessible. She had been a prodigious volunteer at church when she was younger and more mobile. When she was in her last weeks in hospice care, her family contacted her main church and asked if a priest could come and bring her Eucharist and unction. No, her daughter was told, you'll have to contact her parish. Daughter called the parish. No, Father isn't available. A lay minister to bring reserved sacrament? No, that won't happen either. So, in the end, a friend of the family, a woman Episcopal priest did the honors. The elderly lady didn't mind receiving from an Episcopalian. She had done it before during her last illness..

    The larger church did manage to provide a requiem Mass/funeral. Nice of them.
  • Easy EM answer - when can I sit down with you and learn about Mrs Good?
  • Another salutary tale.

    Just to clarify, @Lyda , was it that a lay minister bringing the Sacrament was unacceptable to Aged Lady (which seems unlikely), or that such a minister was not (or was not to be made) available?
  • Wow!

    That's not so much missing the point as not even knowing where the point is or what it looks like. Too busy preparing for Holy Week to be a Christian.

    I am wondering what a materialistic pagan is. The pagans I know (and I'm in Glastonbury so I know a few) are not at all materialistic.

    I believe that a non materialistic pagan sends their kids to state schools, whereas a materialistic pagan sends their kids to private schools. The latter has a place in Marbella and is fine about Botox. The former is a vegan and is fine about Gaia. The former cycles, the latter speeds in a convertible and wears designer sunglasses. The former has a rescue dog called Bert, and the latter has a French bulldog named Estelle. Hope that is clear x

  • I believe that a non materialistic pagan sends their kids to state schools, whereas a materialistic pagan sends their kids to private schools. The latter has a place in Marbella and is fine about Botox. The former is a vegan and is fine about Gaia. The former cycles, the latter speeds in a convertible and wears designer sunglasses. The former has a rescue dog called Bert, and the latter has a French bulldog named Estelle. Hope that is clear x

    :smiley:
  • Fredegund wrote: »
    Not knowing the people, can't comment on the specifics. However, from experience, an overworked and probably disorganised clergy person might ask for an e-mail so they can cut and paste it into their one-size-fits-all sermon. The minister at my mother-in-law's funeral certainly did that - I recognised her daughter's speech patterns.

    Perhaps I should be more charitable? Perhaps the phrase "busy with Holy Week" was code for "So busy I feel like screaming abuse at you"

  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    No one was made available. Jerks.

    Since a woman, Episcopal priest was acceptable, a lay minister would have been welcomed with open arms.

    I didn't learn of the contretemps until the funeral. I told an RC friend about it and she was distressed. She felt sure that if her large, local church had been contacted, the priest who handled their pastoral care to the ill would have taken the call. I hope that she is right and that this kind of situation in not a Thing.
  • Raptor Eye wrote: »
    The cure of all of the souls in the parish(es) is expected of a priest, and although this means finding time when there is no time, we can see what happens when it is neglected. There is certainly room for more inclusion of lay people into all aspects of ministry, to share the load.

    Yes, I can see your point of view, as Sandy (not her real name) did not know Mrs Good, or respect a contribution that took place before she was born. I suppose the problem is that all of us in that church have sat there and cringed at the awful things said at a funeral, by a person who didn't know the recently died person, and Mrs Good's children didn't want that to happen at her funeral. One terrible funeral at this particular church, consigned a lady to hell because she played golf on sunday mornings, rather than attend church. This faux pas could have been avoided if the (somewhat angry and confused) minister had known that the lady had been sexually abused by a Plymouth based vicar as a teen and therefore did not really trust the church people, but was willing to do the flowers, make the tea, and smile, when requested.

  • Easy EM answer - when can I sit down with you and learn about Mrs Good?

    Yes, indeed, but perhaps as I was not one of Mrs Good's adult children, (none of whom wanted to go near any vicar really), the very busy Sandy, thought that giving me the middle finger was "God's will"
  • I have no idea what goes on during Holy Week anyway? Maybe they were making illegal gin?
  • Lyda wrote: »
    No one was made available. Jerks.

    Since a woman, Episcopal priest was acceptable, a lay minister would have been welcomed with open arms.

    I didn't learn of the contretemps until the funeral. I told an RC friend about it and she was distressed. She felt sure that if her large, local church had been contacted, the priest who handled their pastoral care to the ill would have taken the call. I hope that she is right and that this kind of situation in not a Thing.

    Thank you. Understood.

    Yes, jerks, one and all (except kindly lady Episcopal priest).



  • Our minister regards all funerals as opportunities for outreach and pastoral care. We've added a few members just because he was on call by the local undertakers and did a good job of working with complete strangers through a difficult time. He and I disagree on almost everything, but he usually knows who needs pastoral care and when they need it.
  • I don't get the "too busy with" stuff but do get the "Holy Week and Easter have left me exhausted" bit every year, without fail.

    This despite the fact that with the exception of the eucharistic liturgies, all the other special services are taken care of by other people and that the main feature of them all is special music. The choir work their socks off so every Easter Day the PinC thanks ... the ladies who decorate the church and do the Easter Garden.

    I've just come in from a special musical event which the PinC attended (reluctantly): all he had to do was sit in a pew. But he made sure to tell and and sundry how "stressed" he was by all the "extra work" involved :rage:
  • Looking at our Holy Week schedule, the only real difference from last year is that we're having an evening Mass on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Evening Prayer & Benediction on Easter Day.

    Since Father NewPriest does a daily Mass anyway, and Evening Prayer on Sundays, he's not overloading himself. He has arranged 'visiting preachers' for Monday, Tuesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, reserving the Easter Homily to himself.

    Sensible man - and it gives my fellow-Reader and I, together with two retired PTO priests who help us out, a chance to participate in the Holy Week services. Not that we are expecting vast crowds, but that's not the point.....
  • TwilightTwilight Shipmate
    We had a (Lutheran) pastor for about a year who couldn't be bothered to answer e-mails or phone calls. Not returning calls to someone whose family member was dying was the last straw. We fired her.

    The clergy here will probably jump me for this, but I can't ever wrap my mind around the "business," of ministers who don't do pastoral care. Because, to me, that's the only thing that could make them extremely busy. Because, Holy Week? That's planning and executing several extra services and meals, with an extra sermon or speech for each, organizing music and food, but even so, how can this take more than the average work week of 40 hours?
  • Even then, a good deal of the arranging of extra services is often done by others (Sacristan, Organist etc. etc.).

    Ministers who don't 'do' pastoral care are in the Wrong Job.
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    Ministers who don't 'do' pastoral care are in the Wrong Job.

    And that's the truth. We had too many of those preachers at the no-longer-existing church where I was organist. I can't begin to tell you how many families of the dead and dying I visited because the minister couldn't be bothered. :cry:
  • ZacchaeusZacchaeus Shipmate
    Did the family actually tell the minister to deal with you and not them? Because if not, the minster is not going to take instructions from people whom they haven’t been told to speak to by the next of kin. Maybe- it's Holy Week I'm busy - was code for i'm not going to deal with you.
    I find it bizarre that the family would ask for a church funeral but not be ready to engage with the minister to organise it.
  • Using a funeral director as an intermediary can be a good strategy.

    This.

    Funeral directors often have good working relationships with ministers in their area.

  • Zacchaeus wrote: »
    Did the family actually tell the minister to deal with you and not them? Because if not, the minster is not going to take instructions from people whom they haven’t been told to speak to by the next of kin. Maybe- it's Holy Week I'm busy - was code for i'm not going to deal with you.
    I find it bizarre that the family would ask for a church funeral but not be ready to engage with the minister to organise it.

    The family almost certainly don't understand the church culture, and are probably afraid of it. That's what I see in this appointment of an ambassador. Why use the code - why not ask her to prove her credentials, if that's the issue? I can see this happening with my family on my death, as I will probably be the last (no longer) survivng church goer.

    On the other hand, there are inevitably clergy whose capacity for pastoral care is entirely expressed within their own community. This is very difficult in a C of E context, but it does happen, and seems to be to be inevitable as we move to a more membership-based culture. This sort of emotional and pastoral carcrash is the inevitable outcome, sadly.
  • AnselminaAnselmina Shipmate
    As a minister you know you're going to have funerals at busy times of the year; so that shouldn't be an excuse. It might explain why it could be hard to find the most convenient time for a funeral visit, or service, or use the church building; but so long as nothing has been set in stone before the cleric is contacted that can usually be got around. The undertaker should've been involved from the beginning - but maybe the family hadn't thought of that. I've dealt with friends before family sometimes, but always knowing it was the agreed arrangement with undertaker and family. If a friend phoned in the way the OPer did I would've just confirmed it with the undertaker later - sounded pretty straightforward and reasonable to me.

    Sounds like the priest in question here might've resented being contacted at a hectic time, to do a service for people with no investment in church life, but an expectation that their needs will be serviced on request, regardless of church community demands. It's an ungracious response; very wrong. Maybe she doesn't do much in the way of tributes anyway? Some ministers don't, especially for strangers. But the reported conversation is appalling, on her part. Easy to say what other clergy should've done. But she sounded rude and not at all understanding of a sad situation.

  • As long as things haven't been fixed before it's got to the church ... am I alone or are other clergy now finding undertakers come to you with a fait accompli on dates and times?

    The suspicious bit of me occasionally thinks that this is not so much of an accident more perhaps of design. The undertaker then can get to do the service themselves and perhaps there's a bit of extra profit in it. The OFT is behind the curve in looking at this "industry"
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    I think this varies a lot from place to place. Here they are very good about phoning me in advance about dates. I have been fortunate in almost always having had a good relationship with funeral directors. There are horror stories on both sides.
  • I don't think this is new - I had undertakers presenting me with an already-fixed time back in the late 80s. If they are just phoning you out of the blue "looking for a minister" that's not too much of a problem, as you can simply say that you aren't free to help. The problem arises when someone with whom you do have a pastoral relationship goes to the undertaker and they fix things up - and then contact you, only to find you're not free.
  • Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Yes, when I was working as a (church) team administrator it was fine if the funeral directors phoned asking for a minister for a funeral that was booked in at the crem, although a pain if it was Holy Week or another time when everyone was busy or there were people away on holiday. But it was an absolute nightmare if they'd set a time for a church funeral. Normally, for church services the request was for a minister to go and discuss the service with the family and the minister meet them and book the time. Fine for some of the ministers I was dealing with, not so good with one particular, now retired, minister.

    That one the funeral directors were begging me not to put her down as the person to take the service, because she had us both tearing our hair out. She'd never contact the family or book to see them until the last minute, so the funeral directors would redirect all the family calls to me when they'd had enough.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    My late in-laws were devout Roman Catholics who went to Mass faithfully every Saturday evening. (Being able to "get it over with" was the only Vatican II fruit of which he approved.) They were members of a large parish in Florida with several priests on staff - but when he died suddenly one Thanksgiving Day, no one ever called on her in the following weeks. Apparently, they, too were "too busy." I have never understood that. How could they treat faithful parishioners so cavalierly?

  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    When my sister and brother were arranging my father's funeral, they couldn't have their preferred day (a Saturday) because their preferred minister* wasn't going to be free, so we had to make do with the Friday - somewhat less convenient as there were probably people who would have come if it wasn't a work day.

    * I have no idea why she was their choice - the service (apart from the music, which was mostly under D's control) wasn't to my taste at all, and when I said I'd like to read one of the lessons in the Authorised Version, she flatly refused - "anything but the AV". As D. said afterwards, "you should have read it from the Vulgate".
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    My late in-laws were devout Roman Catholics who went to Mass faithfully every Saturday evening. (Being able to "get it over with" was the only Vatican II fruit of which he approved.) They were members of a large parish in Florida with several priests on staff - but when he died suddenly one Thanksgiving Day, no one ever called on her in the following weeks. Apparently, they, too were "too busy." I have never understood that. How could they treat faithful parishioners so cavalierly?

    Don't know how things are in Florida, but here in SoCal some Catholic parishes are so big that there's no way the priests can meet the pastoral needs of their parishioners. When the Episcopal church I belong to picks up defecting Catholics this is sometimes one of the reasons.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    I am happy to report that my Rector received a call today from a local hospice that an Episcopal patient requested Last Rites. This is a person who had never attended our church and obviously never will. My Rector visited him and gave him Last Rites with the oil just distributed to the Diocesan clergy at the Cathedral today.
    :smile:
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Bless your rector and bless the patient on their journey. :votive:
  • @piglet: I think I would have ignored them and read it in the AV anyway. They wouldn’t have tried to stop you in the middle would they?
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited April 17
    And, even if they did, Bold and Decisive Sister Piglet would simply have carried on, no doubt oinking EVEN MORE LOUDLY!
    :rage:

    Who do some of these 'ministers' think they are?
  • McMaverickMcMaverick Shipmate
    Words fail! We all make mistakes from time to time when tired, but to repeat the same mistake with an increasing display of breathtaking lack of pastoral care like this, demands a level of crassness seldom witnessed even among jaded, overworked Anglican clergy! 🙄😱 There are days when we have to take stock and own the fact we’re not fit for human consumption today. Unfortunately, it sounds as if this cleric would be almost permanently out of action if she took this advice.
  • ZacchaeusZacchaeus Shipmate
    @piglet: I think I would have ignored them and read it in the AV anyway. They wouldn’t have tried to stop you in the middle would they?

    I was thinking the same thing
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    I did consider doing that, but my brother and sister* agreed with her, and I regret to say that I caved in; neither D. nor I thought it was worth causing friction over. I do rather regret it - if I'd had my wits about me, I could have said, I'm reading from Dad's bible, which is the AV.

    * both lapsed churchgoers, but Older, and therefore Wiser, than me (snark).
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Using a funeral director as an intermediary can be a good strategy.

    Exactly. Don't expect anything of the church directly. Ever.
  • Sorry, but that remark is somewhat disparaging of all the faithful ministers of the church(es) who DO rise to the occasion!
    :angry:

    Please retract it.

  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Sorry, but that remark is somewhat disparaging of all the faithful ministers of the church(es) who DO rise to the occasion!
    :angry:

    Please retract it.

    I second that, Martin.

    None of us is perfect, and mostly people are doing their best. Sadly, the publicity always goes to the occasions when people get it wrong.
  • McMaverickMcMaverick Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    Sorry, but that remark is somewhat disparaging of all the faithful ministers of the church(es) who DO rise to the occasion!
    :angry:

    Please retract it.

    I second that, Martin.

    None of us is perfect, and mostly people are doing their best. Sadly, the publicity always goes to the occasions when people get it wrong.

    I third it. I have had my faults and failings, but for funerals I have always done my very best to be as pastoral as I can.
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