All preachers great and small - John’s tales of church life

The Rev John Carrier with his book of funny stories from the church. Picture submitted.
The Rev John Carrier with his book of funny stories from the church. Picture submitted.

robert collins

A CONCERNED vicar goes to visit an elderly women who has not been attending church, to check that all is well.

She tells him she hasn’t been able to walk recently, as she has had corns, but she has been to the chemist and he has given her some corn plasters.

The vicar asks if she is able to get about now. “Oh, I haven’t got them on at the moment,” she says. “I went to the Darby and Joan club and Mrs Jones had the same, so I’ve taken them off and lent them to her.”

This was just one incident in the life of retired Leamington minister the Rev John Carrier, who has collected the funniest moments of more than 50 years in the ministry in a book, Church Chuckles.

Mr Carrier, 78, was a minister in the United Reformed Church for more than 50 years, but it was only when he was asked to stand in for a friend giving an after-dinner speech that he thought back over some of the amusing moments in his career.

Finding his stories went down well at talks around Leamington, he decided to write a book, with proceeds going to Radford Road church.

He hopes it gives an insight into a minister’s life, in which administering to people’s spiritual needs, sometimes at vital moments in their lives, means mishaps can bring a blessed relief to the tension.

There was the time when a best man, unable to open the box containing the ring, gave it to the bridegroom who ended up slapping the box on the floor and jumping on it.

Or the gravedigger in a low-lying parish who, after bailing until the last minutes before a funeral, scattered bark chippings into the hole and advised Mr Carrier to keep it short as the water was rising too fast.

Others are more whimsical, such as the boy who pointed to the organ pipes and asked Mr Carrier when he was going to let all those rockets off.

All the events happened to Mr Carrier, but the former churchman, who spent much of his career with congregations in Coventry and Warwickshire, insists no confidences are betrayed.

He added: “At weddings, baptisms and funerals there’s always something that doesn’t go right, and puts a smile on people’s faces.”

Church Chuckles is available from the Christian Bookshop in Radford Road, Leamington priced £5.99.