Days Before Dibley by Jill Swallow is a short autobiographical account of Jill Swallow’s early days in ministry. It begins with a very funny story of mistaken identity. However, although there were other humorous moments throughout the book, they were lost on me because I was too busy feeling annoyed at the shabby way Jill was treated.
Jill Swallow was one of the first deaconess in the Anglican Church in England and it was interesting to read of the daily demands on a local priest. She went on to become one of the first female priests. She met a lot of prejudice, which was understandable, but the thing that annoyed me, was the expectations*. It was assumed by her peers that she would make more sacrifices, financially and opportunity-wise simply because she was a woman. It was good to see Jill making the best of less than ideal conditions and I’m so glad she had a supportive husband.
The title is a reference to the TV show, The Vicar of Dibley. I was surprised to read in the introduction that this show has significantly encouraged the acceptance of women as Anglican priests in England.
The book was well-written and moved at a good pace.
Overall a good read.
*The reason this particularly annoyed me, is because I have also experienced it, in completely different circumstances. I was a pastor’s wife in Australia, I found the expectation that our family would make sacrifices to do our job, frustrating and irritating. Before my husband became a pastor, he worked for a large banking corporation where we were mostly compensated for the sacrifices we made, in terms of moving house etc. Moving into pastoral ministry was a culture shock.