The Parson’s News

This article, by Vic Birtles, appeared on page 32 of the TV Times, Anglia, magazine, edition March 10-16, 1978.

ITV has acquired a reverend reporter. He’s Owen Spencer-Thomas, right, seen in the Anglia region on the news and magazine programme About Anglia, where few viewers realise he is an ordained minister of the Church of England.

As a staff reporter on a busy news programme he has little time for priestly duties, but still helps out clergymen friends at weekends.

“I can baptise, marry and bury people,” he says. “No one can change that unless I am unfrocked.”

The 38-year old Spencer Thomas, a farmer’s son from Hertfordshire, resigned two years ago from his last full-time job as curate in London’s Earls Court bedsitterland. He had been a presenter and reporter on religious radio programmes and had persuaded Thames Television to let him do “some interviewing on their late-night ‘God Slot’.

The Parson's News article

“You can say I was seduced by radio and television. Fortunately the Church of England is extremely tolerant these days.

“Just because I am no longer being paid as a clergyman hasn’t changed my beliefs.” And, he adds, forestalling any accusations about his new profession: “Good journalists can report the facts as they are and make them interesting without sensationalism or hurting people.”

Perhaps journalism is not so great a change of direction. In “a chequered career” Thomas had been a farm worker, an office-machinery salesman and a sociology student before turning to the Church.


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