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Meet The Rev. Adam Smallbone. He’s a Church of England Vicar, newly promoted from a sleepy rural parish to the busy, inner-city world of St Saviour’s in Hackney, East London. It’s a world he has no experience of. And it shows. It really shows.
It is an impossibly difficult job being a good, modern, city vicar. And, equally, it’s a very hard job being married to one. Alex – Adam’s long-suffering wife – does her best to support him, but she’s got her own career as a solicitor to worry about. And she is no one’s idea of a conventional vicar’s wife.
Anybody can and does come into St Saviour’s – and into Adam’s life. From scheming MPs trying to educate their children on the cheap to Colin, a heavy drinking, unemployable lost soul who is Adam’s most devoted parishioner. Then there’s Mick, the local crackhead in need of £20 to visit his ‘dying mother’ in Southend… She’s died three times in the last 12 months. Every day throws up a new moral conflict for our vicar. Everyone always wants something from Adam – all the time. Even his supposedly supportive Lay-reader Nigel, a pedantic careerist with his eye on Adam’s job.
Adam’s door must always be open. From urban sophisticates with ulterior motives to the chronically lonely, the lost, the homeless, the poor and the insane. All are welcome at St Saviour’s and Adam can’t turn any of them away. Even if they’re clearly lying, mad or just very annoying.
In addition to caring for his flock Adam has to worry about the financial burden of running a huge, decaying building – with a smashed stained glass window – and a dwindling congregation. He has to contend with hopeless volunteers, ambitious church rivals, the sinister attentions of the Archdeacon and the romantic attentions of Adoha, a renowned ‘cassock-chaser’ and church regular.
Rev. is an authentic – albeit highly comic – portrait of the life of a modern, inner-city vicar. Heavily researched and supported by anecdotes from a number of working city vicars and church insiders it lifts the lid on how the modern church actually functions, and what life is really like in a dog collar.