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Guest Lee Blick

Nightmare Parishes

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Guest Lee Blick

Have you ever been an organist or a director of music of a nightmare parish? Has the vicar been a pain, or had to battle with horrid churchwardens/church councils/congregants. Did you get appointed knowing that a parish or church had a terrible reputation and totally regretted going there? How did you deal with such difficult people or defuse explosive situations? Have you ever really 'lost it' and let the fur fly? What advice would you give to other organists?

 

Don't actually name the parish or people (or give clues where it is), but tell me, Jerry Springer, I mean Lee Blick your story.

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Have you ever been an organist or a director of music of a nightmare parish? Has the vicar been a pain, or had to battle with horrid churchwardens/church councils/congregants. Did you get appointed knowing that a parish or church had a terrible reputation and totally regretted going there? How did you deal with such difficult people or defuse explosive situations? Have you ever really 'lost it' and let the fur fly? What advice would you give to other organists?

 

Don't actually name the parish or people (or give clues where it is), but tell me, Jerry Springer, I mean Lee Blick your story.

 

Yes, I have. And I'm not telling and I'm not saying where. Not yet.

 

My advice, though, is always to discuss with whomever is actually responsible for the running of the parish before reacting.

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Guest Lee Blick
Yes, I have. And I'm not telling and I'm not saying where. Not yet.

 

My advice, though, is always to discuss with whomever is actually responsible for the running of the parish before reacting.

 

OK, I haven't started this thread to encourage anyone to name and shame parishes. After the 'Big Ma'am' thread I am keen not to get replies out of the blue from representatives of the shamed parishes!

 

The worst parish I had the misfortune of being organist and DoM was in an affluent area of a capital city in the south-east of England. Historically, parish priests tended not to last very long here and that alone should have let the alarm bells in my head going, but I was just out of Uni and this parish were offering a generous salary and LOADS of yummy fees and I needed the money so I accepted the post.

 

The rector had been newly appointed and he was an FinF member taking over what was a MoR parish, and it wasn't long before people seem to resent any changes he made because they thought he was going to turn 'their' parish into another Anglo-Catholic enclave (which wasn't his agenda at all) and as the new organist, people seem to identify me as a negative force too.

 

Already in post was an assistant organist who had previoulsy been the DoM for ten years. He was in fact a much better player than I was but he became an absolute nightmare and I soon felt I was battling with him when I wanted to make any changes. He also seemed to think, with some other parishioners, that HE was still the organist. I found out at my first Christmas there that he was asked by the local school to play for the school carol service in church (as he probably did every year). I wouldn't want to deprive him of something that he had played for annually, but he didn't have the courtesy to inform me and I only found out when I found an order of service with his name on it on the organ console. When I approached him he was rather rude saying he played for it every year and I shouldn't interfere. That annoyed me immensly and as a protest I 'accidently' took the only organ loft key and spent the evening 'not at home'.

 

At the following junior choir rehearsal some of the children who had been at the service gleefully told me that the churchwardens had to put up a very tall ladder to allow my assistant to climb up to the organ loft. Very dignified in front of a church full of waiting kiddies and parents I'm sure... :angry:

 

It gets worse. The next summer a couple of parish stalwards were getting married. I was asked if Arthur (not his real name), my assistant, would be allowed to play for the service. I was quite happy for that to happen and I turned up to the warm-up before expecting to conduct the choir and as we were rehearsing the music I kept getting scowls from him in the organ mirror. So after the warm-up I approached him and asked him if there was a problem and he literally blew up in my face telling me that HE was supposed to be running the rehearsal and I should LEAVE. This was in front of a congregation filling up the church. Well that was the last straw. Instead of having a stand-up row with him I walked out, in an incandescent rage and went over to the Rectory and angrily told the Rector about my treatment. He was very sympathetic and advised me to go home. The next morning, I found out when the Rector had gone into church he gave Arthur quite an earful and it was literally in front of the packed church and awaiting groom. Thankfully, after that incident, Arthur was good as gold and we got on much better.

 

That experience taught me to be more assertive with other staff members and to lay down the groundrules as a priority when accepting a new appointment.

 

There is more about this nightmare parish I want to tell you about, soon.....

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The only experience I have had of anything like this was the reverse of the above. A competent but particularly entrenched DOM/Assistant 'partnership' frequently refusing to consider many opinions but their own and at times making life decidedly hard for a sucession of open minded and generally charitably disposed 'priest plus wardens' set ups.

 

AJJ

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An old organ builder's trick. To find out about the Vicar - ask the verger. This also worked when it came to Organists as well!

 

FF

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The contribution by Cynic has been deleted because (1) he named someone; and (2) that someone has seen Cynic's bitchy post and has - understandably - complained.

 

Cynic, this board is not for clever-clogs ridicule about real, living people.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
The contribution by Cynic has been deleted because (1) he named someone; and (2) that someone has seen Cynic's bitchy post and has - understandably - complained.

 

Cynic, this board is not for clever-clogs ridicule about real, living people.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

 

But if the same "real, living people" had not done what they did to make musicians' posts untenable, there would be no cause for such contributions! Did they stop to cosdider how Cynic (and his predecessors/successors felt about their treatment at the time? Hmmm.

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Guest Cynic
But if the same "real, living people" had not done what they did to make musicians' posts untenable, there would be no cause for such contributions! Did they stop to cosdider how Cynic (and his predecessors/successors felt about their treatment at the time? Hmmm.

 

 

Thanks for that kind vote of non-censure. I merely named one name.

 

To justify my earlier comment (which included not a single adjective, though the one incident I gave spoke volumes) I plan to post here a complete list of the organists who served in that parish over that one clergy tenure. I still have to find out two names fairly late on the list (I had moved away by then). It is possible that I have missed someone, but the tally stands at at least nine organists in fifteen years, plus four lengthy locum spots (two of which I did myself). It might interest other readers to know that another prominent member of this forum is on this list and therefore qualifies as a proud survivor.

 

P.

 

 

I have a theory...........

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Guest Lee Blick
Thanks for that kind vote of non-censure. I merely named one name.

 

To justify my earlier comment (which included not a single adjective, though the one incident I gave spoke volumes) I plan to post here a complete list of the organists who served in that parish over that one clergy tenure. I still have to find out two names fairly late on the list (I had moved away by then). It is possible that I have missed someone, but the tally stands at at least nine organists in fifteen years, plus four lengthy locum spots (two of which I did myself). It might interest other readers to know that another prominent member of this forum is on this list and therefore qualifies as a proud survivor.

 

P.

I have a theory...........

 

Hmm, this thread was intended to be light-hearted, yet informative on how organists deal with difficult situations. I didn't expect this to be a catalyst for lawsuits.

 

If we are going to be in the business of naming names, I could mention a couple in one parish where I was subject to racism... :angry:

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
Hmm, this thread was intended to be light-hearted, yet informative on how organists deal with difficult situations. I didn't expect this to be a catalyst for lawsuits.

 

If we are going to be in the business of naming names, I could mention a couple in one parish where I was subject to racism... :)

 

I am a convert to Catholicism; I once had "Protestant Scum Out" scratched on the organ loft door in my RC church.

 

(In a very middle-class / upper class area in the south east of England - what is the world coming to, eh, Dennis ? :angry: )

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I am a convert to Catholicism; I once had "Protestant Scum Out" scratched on the organ loft door in my RC church.

 

(In a very middle-class / upper class area in the south east of England - what is the world coming to, eh, Dennis ? :angry: )

 

 

I am sorry to learn of the nasty message . If it is any consolation, I had a stop on the organ I was partly responsible for acquiring for our Catholic church,engraved with the name Orange Flute 2ft. Thus every time it is used an "Orange"contribution is added to our praise. I am a cradle catholic myself so i thought an ecumenical gesture.

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Yes, as another cradle catholic with what you might call ecumenical crossover interests, I'm occasionally ashamed of some of the things that many otherwise pleasant and tolerant RC's come out with about the reformed churches.

 

You'd think such people would at least be sympathetic - they think all the prods are quite literally going to hell, after all - but it doesn't seem to work like that.

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Thanks for that kind vote of non-censure. I merely named one name.

 

To justify my earlier comment (which included not a single adjective, though the one incident I gave spoke volumes) I plan to post here a complete list of the organists who served in that parish over that one clergy tenure. I still have to find out two names fairly late on the list (I had moved away by then). It is possible that I have missed someone, but the tally stands at at least nine organists in fifteen years, plus four lengthy locum spots (two of which I did myself). It might interest other readers to know that another prominent member of this forum is on this list and therefore qualifies as a proud survivor.

 

P.

I have a theory...........

I quite appreciate the reasons to be careful about comments that could lead to litigation, although Paul did (if my memory is correct) state that he felt certain of his facts, but it is certainly the case that some parishes seem to get through DoM's at a rate of knots. Either they're very unlucky or else, as is more likely, there' something in their set up that makes it difficult for a DoM to feel happy and appreciated in their post. I suspect that's usually down to the incumbent, but not always so.

 

I'm sure we all notice these things locally, and in my neck of the woods for example, three churches which should by their size and history be choice positions spring immediately to mind (two of which have featured in other recent threads), namely All Saints Cheltenham (4M Hill - "The Holst Church"), Cirencester PC, and Pershore Abbey. (Actually I fancy two of these, but being aware of their turn over its definitely like a turkey voting for Christmas.)

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I quite appreciate the reasons to be careful about comments that could lead to litigation, although Paul did (if my memory is correct) state that he felt certain of his facts,

 

It is a widely-held misapprehension that being "certain of your facts" protects you from being prosecuted for defamation.

 

The fact is: something can be defamatory even if true; Mander Organs, as "publishers" of Cynic's defamatory post HAVE to remove it. It is the law. I don't know - and don't care - how reliable Cynic's "facts" are: the legal position is that you are not allowed to defame people. Full stop.

 

So, please don't. It is rude.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

Edited by John Pike Mander

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67

Edited blank by poster.

 

Although no names or places were mentioned, I have just realized that at least 2 forum members might nevertheless identify both.

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Guest Patrick Coleman

This post originally began with a comment on how clergy and other PCC member should behave in meetings, and that I don't see why clergy or anyone else should be exempt from the normal rules of courtesy.

 

It was a reply to Ps 78.67, who has now edited his post blank for reasons he has himself given, and he has asked me to edit his comments out, which I have gladly done.

 

But the following general comments are still relevant, and I have left them in!

 

I think that a PCC should be a working group made up of those prepared to do something for the good of the church in the parish, and learning to work together. This is neither a popular nor a common philosophy, but it does improve both morale and relationships in a parish when the PCC becomes a positive force rather than a forum for hot air and church politics.

 

This cleric insists that PCC members do something about what they have to say - even when this strategy is not popular with the chattering classes! And we do then try to encourage and support those who are prepared to act, rather than taking pot shots once their head is above the parapet.

 

This brings me back to the whole point of this thread: it may have been meant to be light-hearted, but it does highlight the strains and tensions caused when people who are (or should be) trying to build God's Kingdom don't pull together! DoMs and organists famously bitch about clergy; and clergy famously do the same about DoMs and organists. Perhaps we are so passionate about our own peculiar contributions that we lose sensitivity to the whole picture and the others we are working with? In the mean time, those of us with a foot in both camps (so to speak) can be driven to despair at the loss of so much talent just because these Christians don't love each other.

 

Here endeth the sermon! :)

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67

This post originally began with a comment on how clergy and other PCC member should behave in meetings, and that I don't see why clergy or anyone else should be exempt from the normal rules of courtesy.

 

It was a reply to Ps 78.67, who has now edited his post blank for reasons he has himself given, and he has asked me to edit his comments out, which I have gladly done.

 

But the following general comments are still relevant, and I have left them in!

 

I think that a PCC should be a working group made up of those prepared to do something for the good of the church in the parish, and learning to work together. This is neither a popular nor a common philosophy, but it does improve both morale and relationships in a parish when the PCC becomes a positive force rather than a forum for hot air and church politics.

 

This cleric insists that PCC members do something about what they have to say - even when this strategy is not popular with the chattering classes! And we do then try to encourage and support those who are prepared to act, rather than taking pot shots once their head is above the parapet.

 

This brings me back to the whole point of this thread: it may have been meant to be light-hearted, but it does highlight the strains and tensions caused when people who are (or should be) trying to build God's Kingdom don't pull together! DoMs and organists famously bitch about clergy; and clergy famously do the same about DoMs and organists. Perhaps we are so passionate about our own peculiar contributions that we lose sensitivity to the whole picture and the others we are working with? In the mean time, those of us with a foot in both camps (so to speak) can be driven to despair at the loss of so much talent just because these Christians don't love each other.

 

Here endeth the sermon! :)

 

 

Thanks Patrick - and "Hear, hear"!

 

This brings me back to the whole point of this thread: it may have been meant to be light-hearted,

 

Or another outing for Mr Blick's large wooden spoon! :unsure:

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Guest Lee Blick

My motive is to stir up dialogue and debate. If I really wanted to stir up trouble I would perhaps be printing phone numbers and revealing gossipy secret inter-PCC relationships I had come across. Yes, that's you Eric of St. Michael's & All Credit Cards, Farthampton.

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It is a widely-held misapprehension that being "certain of your facts" protects you from being prosecuted for defamation.

The fact is: something can be defamatory even if true; Mander Organs, as "publishers" of Cynic's defamatory post HAVE to remove it. It is the law. I don't know - and don't care - how reliable Cynic's "facts" are: the legal position is that you are not allowed to defame people. Full stop.

So, please don't. It is rude.

Moderator, Mander Organs


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Guest Cynic
Um, I don't wish to be rude, but actually if something is true, and may be proven to be true, then there is no defamation. Unless my Tort tutor was wrong, or I missed the point completely.

 

Recent developments in privacy law, particularly under the HRA, are another matter altogether...

 

 

Dear Mander moderators,

I respect the fact that you are responsible for comments that appear on your board, or, at least, that you have to be seen to react when someone complains. I am not offended that you removed my post, though I stand by it 100% and could (of course) have said a very great deal more, had I not learned a fractional-sized amount of descretion in my early dotage.

 

I very much regret to say that if the 'someone' who complained about my post was deeply offended, I on the other hand am highly delighted. The only person who could have found my comments offensive was the 'gentleman' himself and he gave grief to a large number of well-intentioned people for a long period of time. I believe this qualifies in modern parlance as a Result!

 

If he wants to sue me, I shall very much look forward to it.

 

Question: Does it do any harm whatever for like-minded souls, working in a largely common environment to share such experiences publicly? I can't see that it does. If I have (on your board) named and shamed one of God's Chosen and he is affronted, good. [Nothing to do with other people seemed to get through to him at the time!]

 

Interestingly, I am one of few holders of that church music post who neither resigned in pique or were persauded to leave by means of constructive dismissal. I obtained an advancement in my teaching career and had to give him notice. He was very offended that he didn't know I had applied to move on; and the fact that I had not asked him for a reference might have given him some cause to worry about my opinion of him. The three months of notice following this were a real penance, I can tell you. I have worked for a large number of clergy now, some nice, some less so. All of them have had odd moments where they must have silently prayed for me to drop dead. Sometimes, in brief moments, this is a shared emotion. However, taking clergy en bloc as a species, this 'gentleman' stands alone.

 

P.

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Whatever the rights and wrongs of your case, Cynic (and I'm sure that there is huge support for the organist in general on this discussion board) it is important to remember that we are essentially guests of John Mander and his Company here. As he has pointed out, the Company carry a legal responsibility for what is published here and it is in our own interests, as well as those of our host, to refrain from anything that could be construed as defamation. I think it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you feel that your story should be published then by all means go ahead and make your own website detailing the case in such a way that you will be obvious as the sole publisher. This forum is too valuable a resource to risk on the, however genuine, vented spleen of its members.

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Guest Cynic
Whatever the rights and wrongs of your case, Cynic (and I'm sure that there is huge support for the organist in general on this discussion board) it is important to remember that we are essentially guests of John Mander and his Company here. As he has pointed out, the Company carry a legal responsibility for what is published here and it is in our own interests, as well as those of our host, to refrain from anything that could be construed as defamation. I think it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you feel that your story should be published then by all means go ahead and make your own website detailing the case in such a way that you will be obvious as the sole publisher. This forum is too valuable a resource to risk on the, however genuine, vented spleen of its members.

 

 

I accept all this as a sensible comment.

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This thread might be a good time to mention that it is, I believe, possible to setup the invision forum such that you have to register to read it, thus taking any comments made here out of the open. Might not be a bad idea?

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Wouldn't encourage new members to join, though...

 

Quite right - I read this for some years before plucking up the courage to join. :)

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