|Not this sort of change|
The life of a Vicar, at least in the measure of that I have enjoyed to date, is characterised by the whole issue of change. There are, it seems, different ways that things are changed in the first phase of an incumbency. First, there are those things that need changing in a hurry (in the spirit of person and parish preservation) and that have to be made immediately. Then there are those things that need changing in the course of the movement of time and as seasons change. Those are changes that take more time, require consultation and deliberation with a wider gathering. Then there are the Grand Changes that concern whole-parish direction, its mission and vision. Those sorts of changes are brought about with wide consultation and over a longer period of time.
The common characteristic in all matters regarding change is that people seem not to like it. The whole idea of change is not, of course, about the matter at hand. That the Hall WC is that colour or this is of no significance per se, but in parish life nothing (and I mean nothing) is that wasn't put there for a reason (and often by someone long dead).
To move a chair from a place of hazard to a place where it may be sat upon seems like a process of the obvious, until you discover that Mrs Miggins RIP 1942 used to sit in that spot and on the chair she donated. To change locks because seven million copies of the door key exist and are in the hands of nameless masses seems like a sensible thing to do until you discover that someone was given a key by the vicar back in the 20s to let in the drayman once and therefore has rights to new keys.
People acquire things. People take on little jobs around the place. People, with a good heart, dedicate themselves to things. We ask them to do it. We enable with one hand and disable with another because we have to. What we are not taught in Vicar School is how much people attach significance to things that exceed the original significance. A key to one person is to open a door and an onerous duty, but to another it represents affirmation, authority and even a sense of power. Often, we change things (even through specific need) that people regard as 'theirs', even when they are not.
The lesson I am learning is simple. I must make the changes that are required as it is my role to lead a community from one place to another in all senses. The end result is almost always peaceful, but the liminal space - the moment of transition - is hard for most if not all of us. It is the case that we identify ourselves as who we are in many external things - and in church life at least, those things are the ones oft changed by new Vicars.