Church Systems Study Aims to Make UMC a Less Unhealthy Workplace



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the process

The entire process of commission and ordination is no more than a "hazing" ritual. A person should be eligible for these based strickly on their credentials, work experience and meeting all of the qualifications. Determinations based on the fact that the majority of the BOM did not like a particular seminary that a candidate attended or the candidate's suit looked too expensive and jealousy came into play is uncalled for. These are people's lives that the BOM is trying to "play God" with. Good people feel like failures, their self esteem crushed and the families are then penalized because if the candidate does still have an appointment after being delayed in the process, it is usually a church that is so broken no one else would take it or the clergy family has to break up and commute, or loose income if a spouse has to give up employment. Splitting families is never ideal and that is what happens more than one would want to admit. It is very difficult for a clergy couple to be authentic in their faith because they have rare opportunities to be "regular people" and no support to help with the development. This is especially true of the spouses. Spouses are not given support by the conferences. Only lip service is paid to support groups or the persons conducting the workshops are so far out of step with what is going on today they have no clue as to relevance for families today. Spouses do not talk with other spouses because of "territorailty, fear of reprisals from the D.S.,being judged, showing weakness." The battle cry of "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit" is ridiculous especially if that clergy family is having to live in separate households miles apart and visit each other on the weekends or give up substantial income and job security of the non-clergy spouse. This presents a system that is frought with problems for marriages, financial difficulties, depression and lack of trust in the cabinet and the BOM.

Sally more than 10 years ago

Mission and Personal Authenticity

My experience is that the greatest stress for clergy is being in the middle-manager syndrome, caught between a church system which expects us to produce institutional maintenance and congregations which expect pastors to primarily be parent-type caregivers. I find the majority of parishioners want a system in which they do not have to grow up, since they face so many stresses outside the church. they want clergy to be their paid worker, doing all the work. Most of our churches have few other staff at all. The decline of most churches means expectations previously placed on lay staff are now on clergy shoulders. The larger church system expects the pastors to 'equip lay members for ministry' rather than 'do it all.' But the few church members (in our mostly aging congregations) who are physically capable are over-stressed in other commitments. So, the expectation of having lay-run churches is anachronistic and impossible to fulfil. We are going to have to let up on expectation level, trust clergy to do the best they can, and provide as much support of clergy as possible. Yes, i know this means we must drastically reduce the overhead of the institutional levels above the local church. Our "connection" must become more lateral and horizontal and less vertical. I agree that longer-term clergy appointments will greatly help, assuming we can make good appointments in the first place. In my conference I believe that is happening.

Mark C Harvey more than 10 years ago

Thank you

Thank you for examining the system and bringing more health and wellness opportunities to clergy. Our family is affected by serious health issues that were partially due to long-term stress on clergy. From what I've seen, pastoring can be very emotional and isolating at times which can be manifested in physical health problems over time.

Sara more than 10 years ago

General Thoughts

I have to say that I am thrilled that someone is looking at the whole system! We cannot effect true change without doing so.

Scott more than 10 years ago

Living Authentically

I have recently wondered about this aspect--Living Authentically--when it comes to the clergy. As a "regular church member", in the last few years I have had to cope the best I could with decisions that challenged liflelong beliefs that had, up until that point, been endorsed by the church. It has been extremely hard and conflicting. At one point, I had to completely step away from the congregation for several months. I am now back but in a marginal way.

Betsy more than 10 years ago