Oct 16, 2012
The CFC Guide to Episcopal Visitations
Having recently had a parish visitation from the Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. Tom Shaw, I thought I'd share some helpful hints for all clergy anticipating their next visit. You know, just a few things to do in preparation for and during the visitation to make sure you don't get defrocked.
So, here is the official Clergy Family Confidential Guide to Episcopal Visitations.**
1. Program hymns like "Lift High the Cross" and "St. Patrick's Breastplate." Bishops never tire of these hymns and truly love hearing them week after week after week. Especially on Hammond organs.
2. If it's been a few years since the last visitation and your "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" sign has been overtaken by vines and weeds, make sure that the directions on your website are wrong ("Yes, we know that's supposed to say turn right at Church Street but people usually manage to find us anyway").
3. The week before the visitation, preach about how all the parish's financial woes are a direct result of the diocesan apportionment.
4. Only provide non-dairy creamer at coffee hour. Your bishop is sure to be impressed with your stewardship. Especially if the Folgers is served in styrofoam cups.
5. Encourage parishioners to approach the bishop and, rather than introducing themselves, say "Do you remember me? I met you at Confirmation eight years ago").
6. During the liturgy, assign a skittish parishioner with a tendency to sweat a lot and drop things to serve as bishop's chaplain.
7. If the bishop's spouse attends, make sure to publicly welcome him/her during the announcements but get the spouse's name wrong. It will give them something to talk about on the way back to the Bishop's Residence.
8. Always refer to the distinction between the parish and diocesan levels as "us" versus "them."
9. Prompt a member of the youth group to say loudly right before the opening hymn, "Wow! That's a huge ring! How much did that piece of bling cost?"
10. Don't mark the altar book for the Eucharistic Prayer so the bishop comes across as bumbling as he flips through the pages desperately seeking the proper preface.
And finally, as the bishop drives away, yell "Thanks, Bishop! See you in three years!"
** The staff at Clergy Family Confidential is hereby released from any liability, ecclesiastical or otherwise, from rectors who choose to follow these steps.