Much has been written of late years about the poverty borne by ministers of the Church. How prices have soared leaving the faithful priest to plod along as best he may, while his naughty flock seek bigger and bigger wages to squander on the things of the flesh. We are all familiar with this sort of literature.
But now, instead of a nasty discontented socialist, a Man of God steps forward to explode the myth. For myth it is.
In the Daily Telegraph (25-10-57), a Shropshire parson reports that things are still quite enjoyable. The minimum stipend (basic wage in plain English) is £600 a year.
“To this figure of hard cash must be added a large attractive house, garden and glebe, which are home” for a wife and two children; a hunter—18 days last season— a pony, a Jersey cow, and two dozen laying hens; fruit, vegetables and hay for the cultivating and collecting; and a power-house where I hope, meetings and fetes can be held, and parishioners entertained, my soul surgery in fact.”
And this is not all. Our spiritual superior excels us on the material level too. For be adds that there is a flat which “‘reaps an annual harvest of £91.” (How the clergy love harvests). Chaplaincies which enable two children to go to Public School, which of course is a private school. Easter Offerings up to £50. And children’s allowances at both national and diocesan levels of roughly £45. All of which brings the cash aspect nearer £1,000. The Disciple of Christ urges us at the end of his letter to read Proverbs XXX. V.8, and I Timothy VI, V. 6— 8. Where it says:—
- Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches: feed me with food convenient for me.
- But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us there with be content.
The cream of the joke lies in the parson’s choice of reading. For in verse ten of I Timothy, chapter six, we are told that love of money is the root of all evil. And verse two says “the Man of God flees these things, seeking only Righteousness, Godliness, Faith, Love. Patience and Meekness.”