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Dragon Interview: Mandy MacVean, Rector at Effingham and Little Bookham

Published on: 16 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 20 Dec, 2016

Rev Mandy MacVean

Mandy MacVean is the rector at the churches of St Lawrence, Effingham and All Saints, Little Bookham. She talks to Chris Dick about her vocation, her routine, her family life, the reactions she receives as a woman priest and Christmas.

How did you receive your vocation and how did you get to be appointed to Effingham?

I was sent to Sunday school as a child and my mother has always been a church-goer. In my 20s, I stopped attending church for about nine years although I continued to believe in God. I started attending again after being made to feel welcome at a church I visited. Over the years people suggested that I consider ordination and eventually I felt ready to see if my “calling” was genuine.

I was a curate in Banstead and then was offered the post in Effingham in March (2016). So Effingham is my first incumbency post.

Were you familiar with Effingham before you were appointed as our vicar? If so how did you know the village?

After university I went into teaching. My first job was at Cranmore School in West Horsley and for six months I had lodgings in Effingham. I never thought that one day I would return to be the rector.

Mandy in the pulpit where she delivers one of her two weekly sermons

What is you weekly routine?

Apart from services on a Sunday and Thursday mornings, my weeks have plenty of variety. No day is the same and can range from funeral and pastoral visits to taking weddings, working in the local schools or organising our versions of national events such as marking the Queen’s 90th birthday to Remembrance Sunday with all the local Scouts and Guides involved.  Like all jobs there is a fair amount of paperwork involved – not least the twice weekly requirement of sermon production – but sitting at my kitchen table I could not want for a better working place. I do have a study but it doesn’t have the same view of the garden.

How do your family like living here? What do they do?

My family love our house in Effingham. My husband Paddy is a self-employed heating and plumbing engineer and finds Effingham a very good base to reach clients in Guildford and Banstead as well as those living locally. My youngest daughter lives with us and works in London. Our middle daughter lives and works in London and our son lives in Guildford and works in London. We regularly have family get-togethers at weekends and often they bring their friends to stay for a “country weekend”.

Are women clerics just accepted without question these days? What has been your experience locally?

I have found people to be very accepting and welcoming of women clergy – or at least those who disapprove have not mentioned it to me. Women can bring particular gifts to ministry that complement those that our male counterparts offer. I am the only female incumbent in our deanery of 13 parishes and I find my male colleagues extremely supportive and encouraging.

What are your favourite things about Effingham as a place and a community?

My husband and I are keen walkers and Effingham is surrounded by such beautiful countryside. We love the fact that we can get easily get to Guildford which was our home for many years and yet we are also in reach of London. I enjoy village life with its mixture of people who have lived here for generations and new families like us. It is good to see a range of ages here, too.

What are the worst things, the things you wish you could change?

I would love to see more people understanding the benefits of following Jesus Christ and being part of a supportive church community. Sometimes people’s negativity has been caused by the media or a bad experience and I would like people to give us a second chance to show them what Christianity can offer.

12th century St Lawrence Church, Effingham

Do you like having a historic church building? What is your favourite part of it?

An historic church building is a pleasure and a responsibility. Many people do not realise that its upkeep is entirely down to the generosity of those who worship there. So it’s the people of St Lawrence who try to ensure that the church is there when anyone needs it. I am very interested in local history and St Lawrence has a wonderful atmosphere due to generations of Effingham people attending services over the years. My favourite part is the wall mural of angels. They look particularly beautiful in candlelight.

Mandy’s favourite part of St Lawrence’s – the wall mural of angels

This is a lovely time of the year for Christians. What would you like to say to those who believe and to those who do not believe?

To those who believe: take time to reflect and pray about the differences the Christmas Story this year could make to you and those around you.

To those who do not believe: I would say that the Christmas Story is a great story with angels, kings, shepherds and a new baby, but the question isn’t whether it is a good story or an enjoyable story but whether it is true. What would your response be if God really did come to be with us at Christmas?

What difference does being a Christian make?

I believe that we were created to be in relationship with our Creator God and our neighbours. When we have that relationship we become ‘fully human’ as we are designed to be. Through allowing God to influence our lives we can find peace, hope and purpose even when life is difficult. It is not a case of “pie in the sky when you die” but life in abundance now.

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