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  • Writer's pictureRevRabRants

Noah and his ark (The Manse Question Part One)



Once upon a time there was a young man called Noah. He had a nice career path ahead of him, but God called him into ministry after spending many a day on the beaches of summer mission. Those summer mission days helped him think there must be something better ahead for a stuffy old Church.

 

Noah was called to a Church which had a lovely big house that went with the job, it was as big as an ark! It was wind and watertight for which Noah and his wife and child were very grateful. In fact, they were often made to feel very grateful for living in a big house free of charge. But it had its downsides. The tiles in the functional bathroom were ghastly, but the “men in charge” thought them sufficient for the purpose and there was no need to change them. The huge grass area to the rear could take a day to mow which had to be done on the day off, which was rare in those days of high ministry expectations. Why would anyone offer to help, after all we all have grass to cut, don’t we? The rooms in the ark were spacious, it was just hard to provide curtains for them all on a tight budget, so the main living room didn’t receive curtains until a kind donation of old curtains came Noah’s way a few years later. The heating costs were high, but remember you are lucky, Noah! Noah had a big old boiler in the back kitchen, so old that it leaked a great deal of heat into that room, great for drying clothes, poor for cost and economy. And the wonderful feature the boiler had was a pilot light that kept going out, so when the house suddenly started going cold, which was often, Noah knew the pilot light had gone out. Every time this happened, Noah had to unlock the little glass panel at ground level and strike a match up to see if it could be relit, which I’m sure complied with all health and safety regulations, and if not, then God would keep him safe! It seemingly wasn’t fixable, yet there was no question for years to come of the possibility of a new boiler. Still, Noah was called to ministry by God, and this was the best that God could provide.

 

Noah had many colleagues with much worse stories than him about the arks they were living in, so Noah didn’t feel too bad, after all it could have been much worse. Oh yes, the carpets, very costly for a young minister and wife and child with another on the way. One colleague suggested that it was Noah’s choice to have children so he should shut up and bear the burden, a friend for life he was…not! Back to the carpets, there was only one, on the stair, it had been there for years, soon it became threadbare and a hazard. Young Noah had pushed the boat out and bought all the other floor coverings in the grand mansion God had provided. When asked if the Board of the Kirk might replace the stair carpet the request was refused by the “men in charge”. If you want a new one, Noah, put it in yourself. Noah had heard of other ministers who had even supplied new kitchens, which was great if you had some wealth and didn’t want the locals to take responsibility, but poor young Noah had had to sell his flat to cover the costs of the move and now become dependent on the Church for the foreseeable future. Now they had him! And as the years rolled on, sometimes they wish they didn’t have him!

 

Noah’s story was over 30 years ago. He went to serve God in the central offices for four years once he arrived on dry land. He bought his own house and travelled on new transport called trains. He wasn’t paid any more than he was in his old parish. He didn’t need to live in the capital to work there, he did the commute. Then came the time for Noah to return to the parish. Imagine having to sell or rent your own house, what a burden…not!

 

Noah looked at one Church where he thought God might want him to go. The people seemed to like him and they got on well, until they decided late in the process to show him the ark. It was in need of major upgrade. The back garden would have looked better had a bomb exploded there. The head of the Committee thought the same but the truth was the Church didn’t have the money to upgrade it, so Noah and the Committee parted ways amicably. The retired minister who was caretaker for the Church thought the ark a lovely family home, quite suitable for a new minister. Very helpful…not!

 

Noah found a Church that liked him and he liked them. They had what they called an Interim Moderator who had his wits about him and made sure the new ark was indeed suitable, and it has been very well cared for since. The problem is the house will never be Noah’s, it costs a great deal to heat, especially given recent years of very high energy prices, and the Church could make a good sum of money if Noah lived in his own house and they could rent it out. Why worry about that though when the Kirk nationally has millions to spend! Who needs more money?

 

Noah has since heard that the General Trustees are now working on how to solve the problem of unsuitable and inadequate manses. Only 40 years too late. Yet they now insist on keeping the status quo on manses. The landscape has now changed radically for the Church, the only thing that hasn’t radically changed are the General Trustees who seem to have remained in the original Ark.

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