16 August 2014

Can You Have A Dream Clergy House?!

I've been looking at the idea of home recently, particularly the difference between a 'standard' home and a 'clergy' home. I came across two definitions, interestingly from two contrasting sources. The fact that it was difficult to find a reliable source that defined clergy homes was interesting to me...
Home - The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household (Oxford).
Clergy Home - The residence, or former residence, of one or more priests or ministers of religion (Wikipedia).

There seems to be quite a difference in definition! Add the word 'clergy' and it becomes not a place for family but a house that is for ministers! Maybe that's my inner nerd being a stickler for definitions but it got me thinking.

I've heard of hundreds of activities that happen in clergy homes. Bible studies, progressive dinners, youth group nights, church meetings, prayer groups, play groups, play dates with other children in the church, women's groups, baby showers for women in the church, music rehearsals, drama rehearsals, the list goes on! That doesn't include sermon preparation, pastoral visits, people in need stopping by when they saw the 'vicarage' sign...it definitely makes for a unique household!

So if this many activities happen in a home, how do you keep church and family life separate?

This seems to be a question that consistently emerges from clergy family studies. Some advice that comes from my research includes:
  1. Families should to maintain their own personal boundaries. 
  2. Educate the church congregations to respect the boundaries and importance of family time. 
  3. The right house set up will help separate out home from church work and visitors.
I had a bit of a hunt around for an example of housing standards for Australian clergy families. I found a few Anglican Diocesan papers and to be honest, I think their standards would be a dream for any Australian family! You need (minimum):
  •  4 Bedrooms
  • A Long Entrance Hall & Patio (to welcome guests)
  • 3 Bathrooms (one an ensuite)
  • Big, Spacious Kitchen (with great cooking facilities)
  • 2 Living Rooms (with one overlooking the backyard)
  • Large, Safe Yard
  • Fencing All Around The Property
  • 2 Sheds (one for church stuff, the other for personal)
  • Solar Paneling, Ducted Heating, Appropriate Cooling
  • Security Doors
All in excellent condition. Wow! What can I say?! Sign me up!
So if clergy housing arrangement is the key to keeping home and church separate maybe it's worth a good look. I'm having a go at sketching out this dream house so will hopefully have pictures soon. If you're interested in looking at some examples of clergy housing standards, have a peek at Newcastle Anglican - they have their papers available online.
~ Rachel

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