By Rebecca McLean
I recently found out about some heartwarming feedback that one of our hardworking priests received from a parishioner. The following kind sentiments were unexpectedly emailed to The Rev’d Ann Edwards:
“My words cannot fully explain how much balm it is to my soul that we have in you a priest who respects us, cares for us, likes us, loves us as our sister in Christ, counsels us, presides over our services and preaches sermons to us, which make us understand and wonder anew at our Holy Bible. In addition, while being involved in many very worthwhile activities on the Diocesan level and your own family you find time to visit our little old ladies and other parishioners when they are in need of love and care.”
What is particularly special about this feedback is that it explains why the parishioner respects The Rev’d Ann so much. The email also demonstrates an understanding of the broader tasks undertaken by parish clergy – those beyond Sunday services.
“International Buy a Priest a Beer Day” is celebrated on 9 September annually, so we can express appreciation for all that our clergy do for us and their wider communities. Priests often take the time to meet with community members over a cuppa or cold drink – with often life-changing outcomes – so this unofficially commemorated day is a fitting opportunity for us to act in kind.
Maybe a few members of your congregation can organise to take your priest out for a cold one on (or around) 9 September. Or if the weather is still cold in your part of the world, maybe you could cook up a Guinness pie and drop it off to the parish office.
All people like to be appreciated for their service and work. And, our clergy work really hard as they fulfill their unique calls to ordained ministry – whether in parish, chaplaincy, pastoral care, advocacy, Episcopal, theological education and managerial spaces.
This work variously involves:
- creating communities of care
- leading the way towards Reconciliation
- advocating for refugees
- helping us to care for God’s good creation
- facilitating talking circles
- building community in partnership with like-minded organisations
- serving as locums and in aged care homes during retirement
- taking care of rough sleepers
- inspiring our youth
- serving in ministries like Cursillo, Anglican Board of Mission, Anglicare and Mission To Seafarers.
- facilitating national initiatives while supporting grassroots people
- challenging war and conflict while advocating for veterans
- serving as locums and honorary deacons
- advocating for women and children impacted by domestic and family violence
- caring for vulnerable community members, such as via community meals
- representing the Church at events, such as at the Ekka Blessing of the Plough
- caring for ethnic congregations
- leading us on pilgrimages
- taking on higher duties, such as the role of Archdeacon
- growing online communities, such as via Holy Hermits Online
- serving in multi-faith and ecumenical spaces
- advocating at Federal and state government levels
- administering the sacraments, such as baptism.
- leading in the theological space and managing a commission
- Defence Force and hospital chaplaincy.
These are just a few examples – our clergy undertake many other critical functions.
So it is no surprise that in my Wellbeing and Development Officer role, what I hear clergy saying that they need most is downtime for themselves and their families. As clergy continue to juggle their various tasks in the COVID-19 environment and with Advent fast approaching, instead of gathering for a drink, some priests and deacons may prefer other gestures.
With this in mind, here are some other suggested ways that you and your respective faith communities can express appreciation to your priests and deacons:
- a thank you card dropped off to the office or handed to your priest when you next see them.
- an email explaining why their service is so valued.
- praying for them and letting them know you are doing so.
- videoing several people from your faith community each thanking them for one specific/tangible thing and then surprising them by playing the video at a service and/or sending them the video.
- surprising them with a special cake during fellowship time.
- collectively presenting them with a bunch of flowers or craft beer six-pack after a service, Bible study or other gathering.
- preparing and freezing a nourishing meal so it is on hand during a busy period.
- giving a café/restaurant or movie gift card so they can enjoy a special night out with a loved one.
Another idea is for several parishioners to put together a booklet of time-saving vouchers with different services offered, such as for:
- car washing
- an hour of administration support
- frozen meals
- tradie assistance
- lawn mowing
- graphic design
- grocery shopping.
Whether you thank your dedicated clergy with an unexpected email like the one The Rev’d Ann received, a craft beer six-pack, a thoughtful greeting card, frozen home cooked meals or promises of prayer, I would love to hear about how you have thanked your priests and deacons, so please email me. If possible, please take a landscape photo on your phone and post it on Facebook tagging ACSQ Facebook, so we can collectively honour your clergy and share your gratitude ideas across our Diocesan community.
A very happy International Buy a Priest a Beer Day to your priest or deacon!