is something that has been the talk of the country – and other places for the past week.
I’ve had a number of emails asking me what I think about it. And to be honest… I’m not sure what I’m thinking.
I know and count as respected colleagues – in some cases, respected friends – a number of the people who have been working on this organization drive. Over restaurant tables and in living rooms, I’ve had the chance to listen to the life-stories of members of the clergy who have been hurt, badly, by the actions of members of their congregations… and by what could be counted as inaction of our judicatory.
I know and count as respected colleagues – in some cases, respected friends – a number of people who work on matters of personnel in Presbyteries, Conferences and in the General Council offices of our denominations. People who have worked to develop policies and practices to find resolutions to various conflicts.
I’ve also been in roles of responsibility in our judicatory. While fulfilling those roles, I believe I’ve worked to support my colleagues who are in deeply conflicted situations. Part of my hopes around my d.min. project were to build a place where clergy could be supportive of each other… and that that support would help all of us to develop better coping mechanisms.
I’ve availed myself of the gifts and skills of the “Pastoral Support Minister” in our Presbytery.
I’ve turned to the Conference Excutive Secretary and the Conference Personnel Officer for guidance.
I’ve used the Employee Assistance Programme – in areas of nutrition… and psychological support for stress arising from… difficult… pastoral relationships with a few individuals in my pastoral charge.
And yet, I know that the pain and damage still goes on.
Congregational expectations that are insanely high.
Ministerial self-expectations that are insanely high.
The stressors are real.
But I’m still trying to understand how being part of the Canadian Auto Workers – or any union – would be able to help.
I need it explained to me… in very simple and clear terms.
With whom would the union bargain?
What changes would need to be made to our denominational structure? (eg. Ministry Personnel make up between 30% and 50% of delegates to the various decision making bodies… I have a feeling that would have to change.)
What policies need to be changed?
Why can’t we make any necessary changes within the current Presbytery/Conference/GC structure?
How about this scenario…
During the teachers’ strike in 1988 I spent time doing pastoral care on both sides of the picket line – I was seen as neither management nor federation… just someone who was called to care for people. Would I be able to cross a picket line to do that, if I were a member of a union?
Don’t get me wrong. I truly want our denomination to be supportive of its clergy… especially in situations where individuals are being abused. If a union would be able to help us to do that… ok.
But what else would it mean to us?