Being Manse Moggies is a huge responsibility, as well as lots of fun
As a single (never married) minister my experience of manse life is inevitably a little different from that of those who share their homes with partners, children or other relatives. Whilst I have good support from my congregation, and from friends, I spend a lot of time alone. Most ‘real life’ conversations I have are church-related, and I can go for several days at a time without chatting to anyone outside of church other than via social media. My close relatives live in the south of England – around 400 miles away – so manse-family for me means my two rescue cats who have written the following reflection…
May we introduce ourselves? Sophie (tabby and white) and her daughter Sasha (white with a grey ear and tail) are Manse Moggies in a third floor flat in Glasgow, which we share with a single, women minister who is in sole pastoral charge of a middle-sized, multi-ethnic, Baptist church. You may be amused that when we were rescued, the adoption agency needed a letter from the Church Secretary giving permission, as our minister-person is not a home owner!
Like many ministers, our human works from home, which means we get lots of fun sitting on the Bible, the computer keyboard or the desk, and Sasha loves nothing better than ensuring the printer is working properly. Some days our human hardly leaves the desk, except to make meals for us all… Sasha has perfected the art of strategically inserting a claw to the human’s leg to remind her it’s time for a break or, best of all, for snuggles. Human ministers who live on their own don’t have anyone to say, ‘stop working’, so we take this role very seriously indeed.
Sometimes other church humans come to the manse for meetings, for small acts of worship or for meals. This is where Sophie excels, with her cute face and loud purr. She jumps up onto the table and drinks milk straight from the jug (but only after all the humans have been served)! Manses are often visited by other humans, and whether you are a cat, a dog, a small-human or whatever, you must be well-behaved, cute and adorable at all times… which isn’t easy when someone sits in your favourite place or takes up all your human’s attention. We love seeing the church humans, and we love it when they go away again, so we can sneak the leftover food, ‘let down our fur’ and reclaim our space.
Obviously being cats, we don’t get to go to Sunday services, so we don’t have to listen to cringey stories about ourselves to illustrate sermons, nor do we have to be on our best behaviour (phew!). Instead, every week we greet our human when she comes home from church. Usually she is happy, and once she has put away her stuff and made lunch, we can relax together, which is good because she is always quite tired after worship. Sometimes, though she is sad or worried, and has no other human she can talk to; this is when we snuggle a little bit closer, enjoy cuddles and reflect together.
At the end of another long day, whatever it has been like, we love to curl up on the bed, often one at her feet and one on her chest, and thank God for another day together.
Being Manse Moggies is a huge responsibility, as well as lots of fun. Looking after a single minister is a great privilege, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Lots of purrs,
Sophie and Sasha
Rev Catriona Gorton is the Minister of Hillhead Baptist Church in Scotland
The aim of Manse Life is to raise the profile of what personal life is like for a minister, and ground it in reality. We are doing this because ministry life is unique. There are incredible joys, amazing privileges, and inspiring times. These are all brilliant. There is also heartache; fear, frustration, loss, relocation to name a few and there is often no recourse for these feelings. By providing an outlet for people to write constructively about their personal experiences at home and church and share these in a positive environment we believe will bring hope and a sense of perspective. It will help people feel less isolated, to find common ground, to reflect, provoke thought, spur faith, share ideas and best practice, and to raise a smile.
Manse Life is totally inclusive whatever your personal and family circumstance and whether you live in a manse or not. For those who do have immediate family around them, they too are very welcome to contribute.
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