Animal Padre's
Christians Against All Animal Abuse
"Christ’s redemption is for the whole of creation!"

Winter 2011

The Flock That Christendom Forgot:
An Animal's Padre Uphill Pilgrimage

Episode 11 - Darkening Clouds Gather

The Huddersfield parish had been exceedingly in the red. My predecessor had stuck it seven months. The one before him: two years; and the one before him for twelve months. The Bishop had already suggested a better post as Vicar of Holmfirth (later the location for 'Last Of The Summer Wine'); nevertheless, I preferred a challenge. Well, the years passed. Good Bishop Tracy – a true pastor supported by his wife ‘Auntie’ May! - retired with ill health; and after much friction within the vicarage itself my previous wife left after twenty-three years of marriage. Yes, the end of a turbulent relationship which had begun by a 'marriage of the year' in 1954, when we had eloped; I a Baptist Pastor and she a Sunday School teacher of a Puritanical mission.

It need only be added that the friction was on both sides. I had no doubt become exceedingly unbearable to live with. Parish gossip had recently centred round the Catholic Presbytery where the former priest had made a young lass pregnant - and then coaxed her to move into his luxury caravan - the gift of parishioners on his early retirement 'due to ill health!'

Well, now the gossip transferred itself to our vicarage! Yes, it was an exceedingly sad state of affairs, no doubt accelerated by issues such as a deeply loved and severely retarded child; teenagers who played up one parent against another; my mother who was severely handicapped and stayed with us half the year; and a church getting deeper into the red each week.

Bishop Rutt of Leicester had persistently twisted my arm to be responsible for ASWA; but on now learning that my spouse had deserted me - and that a divorce could possibly ‘be in the pipeline’ - now dissuaded me from taking such a voluntary post.

Meanwhile my own Diocesan proved far more sympathetic and had me interviewed at no less a place than 10, Downing Street for a top Crown appointment. However, their offer of a prestigious post in Lincolnshire was withdrawn at a later date: the Crown did not wish to be implicated in a possible, high media publicised, divorce affair!

So, for another eighteen months I remained in the rambling vicarage of Milnsbirdge. – within the parish in which PM Harold Wilson had been nurtured! - desperately endeavouring to build up the congregation. Yes, and equally the church finances; for it was now an area where mills such as the Crowthers - of Bankdam notoriety!’ – had been generous past benefactors, but were closing almost monthly due to foreign imports taking over.

Well, thankfully, one could always be assured of a nucleus of loyal and loving parishioners; while, one of the most prominent comforters of all was Fluffy, my lovable dog. She had mostly the appearance of a Shetland sheep variety; plus a deep bark that would terrify any intruders to the dark Victorian vicarage; and yet ‘let loose upon them’ and she would have, probably, lovably washed their faces all over. If such four-legged pals are not part of the Kingdom of Heaven, then there must be exceedingly far less hope for so many humans!

- to be continued

Go on to Greetings from Doreen and I For A Lovely Christmas
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