Days Before Dibley

Days Before Dibley

Jill Swallow
Authentic Media, $7.95

I am sure God has a sense of humour! Why else would he have created Dawn French?

Well, not quite. Only those familiar with parish life in the Church of England in the UK would be able to confirm the accuracy of the script for the popular TV series, The Vicar of Dibley.

Jill Swallow’s easy to read writings in Days Before Dibley were first published in 2007, however, the book remains as relevant today as when it was written.

As a Church of England deaconess Jill takes us on a journey of both the difficulties and blessings associated with being a female minister in the church.

Early in the book the young deaconess calls on an elderly male parishioner. As he excuses himself to his bedroom she waits only to see him re-emerged wrapped only in towel! Clearly something had been lost in translation as she hastens to assure him she is a deaconess. Clearly his mistake, he was waiting for the district nurse for his bath!

And then there are the encounters with the powerful Mothers’ Union! And what does her husband do when the clergy wives plan their retreat while their spouses are at conference? You guessed it, he decides to go with them — heaven forbid!

For we in the Uniting Church who, since Union, have not known anything else than having women of the cloth, some of Jill’s experiences clearly illustrate the difficulties and frustrations that women of other denominations face. It is encouraging to read that, despite those challenges, with the support of her husband, Jill Swallow had the faith to persevere.

It’s an easy read with many comical experiences and may just make the ideal Christmas gift for your minister. But I suggest you check with her before you wrap it up!

Allan Gibson

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