A couple of my friends from seminary and I got together recently to watch some basketball and to just hang out as friends. My two friends are members of other conferences and naturally when we get together we start to talk about events in our conferences. It is also appointment time, the annual job of the cabinet to try and make sense out of the Rubics Cube of open pulpits and available clergy. As we were enjoying the game on TV one of my friends shared a story that was happening in his conference. This has gotten me thinking these past weeks about this question: Is the District Superintendency a place where Bishops hide ineffective clergy?
I’ll go into more the story now and in order to keep things clean (and to avoiding conflict for my friend) I will keep all parties anonymous. In my friends conference there was a member of the clergy, we will call this person Clergy, who had a reputation around the conference. I am sure you know clergy like this in your conference. Clergy has been around for a while and has moved up the appointment ladder slowly but surely. Left in Clergy’s wake have been upset churches and people. Usually you will find two types of people by the time Clergy leaves, people who love and adore and people who dislike and loathe. It is a love/hate relationship that people have with Clergy. It was announced, before our little gathering, that Clergy would be appointed as a DS in June.
According to my friend this has sent waves through the conference and a love/hate reaction. Those who love Clergy, were happy for this appointment and saw it has a reward for a job well done. Those who dislike Clergy, saw this appointment as an unfortunate result of too high of a salary and no appointments willing to accept Clergy’s ministry. The result, in their eyes, was that the Bishop appointed Clergy there to get Clergy out of the system and put Clergy in a place to do as little harm as possible.
When I heard this I thought, WOW, Bishops and Cabinets do that? I was exposing my ignorance about the appointment process and the reality that the Cabinet has to make hard choices about the clergy within their conferences. I guess in a perfect world all clergy would be loved and adored by their congregations. All churches would hate to say goodbye when their minister had to move but eagerly welcome the new minister and his/her family. Yet we all know that is not the truth and that there are church killers out there.
I am not sure how much of the rumors me about Clergy are true. What I am quiet certain of is that there is probably truth to both sides, those who love and those who loathe Clergy. Let’s say for the sake of argument that the dislike side is a truer picture of Clergy’s ministry. Does this mean that the Cabinet is hiding Clergy? Does this mean that you can be bad at ministry but over time you will work your way up because of the pay scale that the appointment process follows? If this was the truly the wrong decision then what should have been the right one? Send Clergy to another pulpit for that congregation to love/loathe Clergy? Or is sending Clergy to a more administrative position and away from the weekly pulpit THE BEST option?
This has rattled around in my head for weeks now but no longer. What do you all out there in the blogosphere think? Clergy and laity alike, have you experienced this before? This too much of a taboo topic to talk about out in the open, because we know it happens in all the closed doors and lunch tables we as clergy gather around! Throwing it out on the table and would love hear some further discussion besides the echoing of my own thoughts.