• Revd John King


Well, of course he does. He’s studied the biblical documents, church history, ways of worship, moral issues. Most of the problems that come up in parish life have come up many times before. It’s similar to saying when it comes to transatlantic flight that the pilot is better able to do his job than any of the passengers. We can hardly disagree. And the same goes for brain surgeons, architects and engineers.

But there’s the catch. Brain surgeons stick to their clearly defined jobs. It’s different for architects. Architects are also interested in in appearances; so are engineers. Part of their job has to deal with aesthetics, and as far as that goes a layman may make better informed judgments than the experts. Think of self-declared brutalism.

Choosing hymns, for example, is an area where a vicar can be expected to observe boundaries and exclude heretical material. But the range of musical options in worship is vast and a lay person may have a better judgment than a vicar when it comes to detecting sentimentality and flatulence.

The same is true of church design. Bricks and mortar, stone and timber require skilled treatment, just as interior furnishing and decorating do. Soft furnishings, lighting and sound are areas of expertise where specialists have a part to play. Of course, in matter of taste like these there is an opportunity for a variety of people to express a variety of views. Nobody would wish it otherwise. There will be no right or wrong answer in many cases. What is true of literary criticism or sculpture is also true of the breadth of Gospel interests.

If the vicar does know best, that will emerge in discussion. Should it be that a vicar is plainly at variance with well-informed opinion, patience and understanding are called for. Happy is the parish where there is room for good-humoured discussion on matters of taste and practicality with the vicar’s particular expertise being recognised and respected.


Aylesbury is known not only as the growing county town of Bucks. but as the home of the Aylesbury duck and a new £42m 1200-seat theatre. Holy Trinity is a lively church with a strong ministry team led by Charles Trefusis.


Huw Edwards, news presenter and church organist, is delighted that the National Churches Trust, of which he is vice-president, has made an award of £10,000 to St John’s Scottish Episcopal church, Wick, Caithness for the installation of a toilet. There has been a vacancy at St John’s since the departure of Ellie Charman, who has moved to Inverness.

If you have a comment on this post please send an email to Revd John King at Edited extracts may be published. To forward this to a friend click on the chain icon below.

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