Friday, February 10, 2006

Getting a Raise, Part II

I think the post about how Presbyterian ministers get raises prompted more responses than any other recent post -- other than one a few post months ago about how Christians should pray for their ememies, inlcuding Osama.

Lots of folks made suggestions, such as having an elder preside, but in the Presbyterian Church (USA) the Book of Order, says "The pastor shall be the moderator of all meetings of the congregation."

I've never had anyone offer any real discussion about the raise. It just strikes me as odd that I moderate the meeting. The chair of the Personnel Committee presents the motion, but there I stand having to ask, "Any discussion?" As I say, there never is.

By and large, these meetings are dull.

An annual report is mailed out a week prior to the meetings, and people never have any questions about them.

We elect elders to a three year term of the Session -- and that goes smoothly also.

Well, there was this ONE time.

It was my first year in my current church. The church had been in conflict for several years, which is one of the reasons I went to this particular church. Conflicted churches seem to have become my specialty.

At any rate, the people in the congregation did not trust the elders at all.

Fortunately someone warned me about what was about to happen.

You see, normally the Nominating Committee would come up with 1 name for each vacany on the Session and would present these names to the congregation as possible elders. The Book of Order requires that the floor be open for nominations from the congregation, but no one EVER makes such a nomination. Then the nominees are elected.

Not that year.

There were 7 openings on the Session.

The congregation named 14 from the floor! So there we were with 21 nominees for 7 openings.

Now we don't just take the top 7.

The Book of Order requires that each elder have a clear mandate to serve -- meaning a majority of those present and voting.

One elder, who had been the chair of my Pastor Nominating Committee, was furious that he had not won on the first ballot. He rose to give a speech, which was basically, "You can't run this church without me. I hold this place together!"

On the next ballot he received 3 votes out of over 200.

I figure the votes were his, his wife's and one of his sons -- hmmm, he had two sons there. Wonder which of his family didn't vote for him?

Anyway, he walked out and never returned.

I called all of the nominees afterward to thank them for their willingness to serve. Most were humble and accepting of the congregation's decision.

Not that one fellow.

He demanded that I apologize for not publically telling the congregation to elect him.

It never occurred to me to "campaign" for a nominee.

Neither one of us saw the other's point of view.

The bottom line is he never returned to church after that.

Well, it seemed to work out best for everyone.

The church began its long road to recovery and healing that day. It took about 2 years of pure hell, but then the church became a delightful place to serve.

As for me, the congregation seemed to understand that I was not going to be anyone's puppet. I'd already pissed off the leader of the other faction -- quite by accident. So they looked at me as neuteral. Go figure.

As for that fellow, he's attending a community church down the road and seems very happy where he is.

So I guess there can be some surprises at these meetings after all.


Blogger see-through faith said...


if that's your speciality I can nominate you for a new appointment (grin)

be blessed!

I LOVE it that you took time to thank all of them for being willing to stand .

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Ain't Church politics fun?

6:25 AM  

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