Search This Blog

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Putting a stop to stops: cash-starved church kills the curlicues

Here we go again. The Church of England is telling us how cash-strapped it is.

It’s one of the biggest landowners in the country, but every so often you get bleating stories.

The parish of St Barnabus-under-Flossock in Wiltshire has now ordered its clergy to cut down on paper and ink in the missives that are traditionally still handwritten to parishioners and others within the wider church.

This comes only months after another Wiltshire church, St Cyriac’s in the village of Lacock, was forced to sell a unique silver chalice worth £1.8 million. It was donated to St Cyriac’s about 400 years ago, but had never been accurately valued until recently.

St Barnabus has taken a leaf out of St Cyriac’s book in looking at ways to save money, and, in its case, has ordered priests and church staff to stop using underlinings on their signatures, and full stops where they’re not necessary, such as after a signature or a heading.

“Consider using full stops only at the ends of sentences,” says an internal memorandum. “If you are tempted to use a semicolon, think of splitting the sentence into two, and using a full stop instead, which uses one-third as much ink. Dashes can be handy, and are just as economical as parentheses to hold subordinate clauses – if the dashes are kept fairly short – but try to keep their use to a minimum, and consider using bracketing commas instead, since they use marginally less ink.”

The Rev. Mark Write is annoyed. “I can just about get my head around the idea giving up doing an illuminated manuscript for my shopping list – something I have given up for Lent, and now may never be able to resume – but the curlicues I put on letters to my parishioners are what define me,” he said. “I don’t think I can just give up something like that.

“Some of my colleagues are happy with mere underlinings, and even they are being asked to stop doing them. It’s outrageous. And all to save a few pots of ink.”

A church official would not comment, but issued a statement saying, “The Parish of St Barnabus-under-Flossock is very aware of its funding shortage and is doing everything possible to save money.”


Andy Armitage said...

In case no one has spotted it already (and shame on you if you didn't!), this is an April Fool gag. Just so there's no misunderstanding . . .

Stuart Hartill said...

Andy, I showed this to a friendly vicar, who roared with laughter and forwarded it to a number of his colleagues.
Seems the spoof is so close to actual instructions emanating from Lambeth in recent months that it could easily have slipped under the radar.
I suspect even now clergy in forgotten backwaters of the Anglican empire are having a sly chuckle over it.