Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pastoral Courtesy and Integrity

Once again I seem to have found myself in a dysfunctional ministerium. There is another woman - an extremely part-time Episcopal priest - five male clergy and me. One of the male clergy is my husband. I know he's pretty high functioning.

Our ministerium has two Free Meths, one Catholic, one Lutheran, the aforementioned Epsicopal and us two United Meths. We say we want to be united for the good of our Small Town community, but I am afraid we are anything but united.

Father Catholic Priest painted himself into a corner a couple weeks ago with the Small Town Council and then sent out e-mails to Small Town Ministerium with pleas for back-up. Father Catholic Priest write arrogant, condescending Letters to the Newspaper Editor and assumes he speaks for all the Small Town clergy.

Let me tell 'ya: Hubby has learned in the thirty years we've been married that he cannot speak for me. He knows and respects the fact I have my own mind, my own intellect, my own opinion and my own big mouth.

And resent the fact that FCP thinks I'm going to die in this particular ditch with him. He agrees with stuff we talk about in ST Ministerium meetings, but goes ahead and does his own thing. He's the loudest voice calling for a united front - but on his terms and with his agenda. He used the Community Lenten Luncheon last week for a podium for his political views and using communal scare tactics, said, "I don't want to stand alone. If you're a Christian then stand with me." Golly gumpers, grandma!

The second thing that's pressing my buttons this week is the fact that the two Free Meth clergy are visiting my parishioners. I arrived at the hospital this morning for a parishoner's surgery only to find the FM Associate Pastor there with the family. He "graciously" deferred to me when I prayed with the surgery patient and family, but patted the patient's foot and said he'd be back tonight. And I had another parishoner in the ER at the same time and they went north to Small City Hospital on one of the Great Sinkholes for a cardiac problem. Assoc. FM Pastor called his Sr FM Pastor and Sr. Pastor told him to tell me that he would meet the Cardiac Patient at the Small City hospital.

To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. I'm too well-mannered to raise a fuss in front of folks, but you can bet the Small Town Ministerium meeting tomorrow morning will be rough and wooly.

Hubby went to the Small Town Council meeting last night and returned disgusted. Of course, Father Catholic was there (his usual arrogant self) and the Free Meths because they're standing up against "politically correctness." Hubby received a report on my transported parishoner - "he had his pacemaker tweeked and he will be fine."

What happened to pastoral integrity and courtesy???????????????


jean said...

I'm guessing that your parishioners have relatives in FM congregation that are asking their pastors to visit--lay people not understanding pastoral ethics and protocol--but the FM pastors ought to!

Tom Jackson said...

I'm not sure I agree with that; if I were in the hospital (particularly for something major) and a friendly pastor wanted to stop and talk and offer a prayer, I wouldn't want her to have to call my pastor first for permission.

This looks more like a clerical turf battle than Christian love.

TN Rambler said...

Tom, I guess you've never been in a situation where the "helpful" pastor was doing everything in his power to undermine your ministry. Yes, the layperson may not realize it, but this is the type of thing that interferes with the pastor's ability to establish relationships with his/her congregation.

Tom Jackson said...

Not being clergy, I haven't.

But you seem to confirm what I said: it's a turf battle, having little to do with Christ. We laypersons understand that such things happen; sometimes we also refuse to cooperate.