As Debbie sat on my sofa describing two churches where she was considering spending her time as curate, a strange sense of familiarity began to dawn in my mind. You will remember that Debbie has been 'released' by the diocese: released, it seems, high into the air to land wherever she will, or wherever she will that will meet the requirements of her family as well as herself. 'Curates are loved wherever they go, unless they make a complete mess of it, and God will bring good things out of whatever situation you find yourself in - you'll end up loving the place and the people almost whatever happens', I told her, 'so think about what sustains you and stops you getting lonely and isolated and how you're going to maintain those relationships. Your family is key and if your children aren't happy that will drain you too.'
Well, Debbie's account of one of these two churches rang peculiar bells in my memory and these turned out to be accurate. It was the former incumbency of someone I know (and strangely enough had written a letter to that very day) and who had to leave after a complete breakdown in pastoral relationships there. I remember him saying that the congregation had described their previous vicar in no complimentary terms, either, so I have some concerns whether this church has long-term problems (you sometimes come across churches that are dysfunctional in this way): however, Debbie says the current incumbent, who's been there for a couple of years now, seems to be doing all right.
What a strange relationship it is between a Christian community and its pastor, and what a bizarre coincidence that I should know the very place Debbie was talking about (for once it's right to play long with the Church of England's customary game of Secret Squirrel by not letting on where it is). But, as Yuuko-San says, 'There is no such thing as coincidence in this world, there is only inevitability'.