Surviving the Experience: Matthew Caminer introduces A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide

OFFICIALLY, A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide isn’t published yet: it’s due from SPCK on August 16th. Unofficially, however, at least one copy has been seen in the wild, in the hands of clergy husband Tim Nutt:

Tim Nutt, husband of the Revd Angi Nutt, spotted reading CHSG at New Wine 2012 (Photo courtesy of Alastair Walton)

Tim Nutt, husband of the Revd Angi Nutt, spotted reading CHSG at New Wine 2012 (Photo courtesy of Alastair Walton)

CHSG is one of those relatively rare books that has a clear target readership but seems likely to have a much broader appeal and initial feedback has been positive, to the point where MinDiv — the Church of England’s Ministry Division — have already indicated that they’re considering it for their recommended reading list for would-be ordinands and theological students. For full bibliographic details, cover scan, endorsements and links to info elsewhere, see below.

As a clergy husband myself, curiosity got the better of me: I tracked down the author, Matthew Caminer, in a secret lair for clergy spouses on facebook and asked him a few questions:

Matthew Caminer

Matthew Caminer

What inspired you to write the book?

Nearly a generation after the ordination of women to the priesthood, the effect on their husbands and families is uncharted territory. They represent a new demographic which is not catered for in any books or other support material.

As my wife Miriam went through the process that eventually led to her ordination in 2011, I had been looking for resources that would help me to understand how my life would be affected. I found nothing, and felt frustrated. I started writing A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide initially as an outlet for this frustration, but as I spoke to others in the same boat, it became clear that there was a gap and that I had the opportunity to help future clergy husbands, their wives and families, and all with whom they would interact. Through a survey of clergy husbands it became clear that there was a general feeling of being unsupported and unheard. My response was to write this book.

OK, tell us more about it…

It’s in four parts, initially covering the journey from identification of vocation to ordination and beyond, as seen from the viewpoint of the husband travelling alongside. It goes on to look at what it means to be a clergy husband in terms of personal spirituality, boundaries and relationships, and explores expectations and assumptions. There follows a section that reviews the day to day practical aspects of life as a clergy husband, and finally, a look at what happens if things go wrong.

It is not designed to be read end-to-end, although there is a logical flow; but more to be dipped into. There are lots of pauses for thought and things to do and discuss, and challenges for everyone. It may not always make comfortable reading, but then it is addressing issues which many people either ignore or encounter without prior thought or planning.

Your target readership seems fairly clear, but we clergy husbands are relatively few and far between: is there more to it than that?

The primary readership of A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide is the husbands and partners of female clergy. It is not just aimed at the husbands, though, but also at their ordained wives and families, their congregations, PCCs, Church Wardens, local clergy teams and the wider church hierarchy, including the whole diocesan vocation/ordination mechanism and theological colleges.

Early signs are that this will also be welcomed by clergy wives and their ordained husbands, since much of the content is common to all clergy family life.

What are your hopes for the book?

Apart from the main target audiences, the book has two important aims:

  • To be seen as an essential part of the pastoral care toolkit of Bishops, Archdeacons, Vocations Advisors, Diocesan Directors of Ordinands and Pastoral Advisors.
  • To become a key component of programmes for ordinand husbands and ordinand spouses in general at theological colleges.

Both aims would generate new demand at key points in the year, especially Petertide ordinations and at the beginning of the academic year.

Do you have any plans for a sequel?

I fully expect there to be a need for an expanded second edition of A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide, perhaps tackling more difficult issues that were left to one side in the first issue, and including further examples and illustrations from other clergy husbands.

In the meantime I am undertaking pro bono Management Consultancy work for Cancer Research UK.

OK, you’ve written the book: what about selling it? Booksellers don’t need books that just sit there on the shelf for six months then end up in the returns pile…

I would be very glad to put in an appearance to sign copies, read extracts, answer questions etc. I think this would best be done in the context of an event for clergy husbands and wives, who generally lack opportunities to get together and network. This would inevitably generate further interest by word of mouth. SPCK can offer a variety of POS materials to support such an event.

This approach would complement a launch planned at Ripon and Cuddesdon Theological College on 9th October, which will be aimed at the husbands and wives of ordinands.

Discover More…

Bibliographic Details

A Clergy Husband's Survival GuideA Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide
Matthew Caminer

SPCK, August 2012

From the Back Cover:

Canon Beaumont Stevenson, Pastoral Care Advisor, Diocese of Oxford:

I immensely enjoyed reading A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide. It is very human, forthright and practical. The book certainly resonates with issues which I’ve encountered, and its questions and challenges apply not only to clergy husbands, but also to their wives, the parish, the diocese and to the Church as a whole. A much needed book.

Sue Saville, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist:

I would have no hesitation in recommending A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide. It will be a great tool for clergy couples to use. I found the insights perceptive and broad based, but not judgemental.


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