“Vicarious vicaring” was the title of a talk given by the Rev Robert Williamson. It was in effect a walk-through of his career in the work of the Church of England. My dictionary defines “vicarious” as being experienced through witnessing the experience of another person” and in this sense, this talk was a reflective narration of someone’s life. Vicaring is, however, a path followed by the clergy in the Church of England, a pattern of life and service.
Born in LIverpool, Robert spoke of the contrasts in the quality of life that he observed in that city in his growing–up period. His personal interest was to be found in music and theology, a degree course that he was to follow at London University. Electing for the priesthood, Robert’s first ministry was in an area of high unemployment and social deprivation, a lifetime experience, as he put it. A second ministry, this time in the Lake District, was more gentle, enabling him to follow another interest, that of climbing, offering service through the Mountain Rescue team. He moved to Barrow-in-Furness at the time when the shipbuilding industry was in melt-down, it was back to the social problems that he experienced in Liverpool and Manchester. However, his next move was to Darlington as vicar of the large and beautiful town centre Church, where his work was more one of financing a run-down property than one of social service. His final ministry is now in the villages around Thornton le Moor and Otterington, in peaceful North Yorkshire.
Robert’s talk was a happy meander around marriages and deaths, families and the personal problems of the time. It was a relaxing and often hugely amusing talk.