Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quality Clergy Need Necessary Resources

Last Saturday a nationally recognized leader said, "I believe this: There is
a lot of discipline to be derived from freedom. When you are working with a
highly professional, motivated group that is accountable, the more freedom
you give that group, the more discipline you're going to get in return."

We priests believe that we are 'a highly motivated, professional and
accountable group (at least most of us) and we can attest that freedom and discipline go hand in hand; it is a matter of trust.  Vestries, acting on behalf of the congregation, display that trust when extending a call for a rector.   Priests exhibit that trust when they accept the call.

Freedom and discipline maybe what Saint Augustine meant when he said, "Love
God and do what you want"

Nevertheless, many of the email responses to my article, "Where have all the
rectors gone?" speak to a breakdown of freedom to do the job they are called
to do.  It is not just the lack of rector positions nor the fact that forced
terminations now confront a third of our clergy; it is the lack of resources
at the parish level that is the most debilitating followed closely by
diocesan micro-management.

Dr. Corwin Roach, former Episcopal Seminary Dean, once prayed, "As Thou
knowest, we have done so much for so long with so little that now we are
qualified to do anything with nothing."
   This is the prayer of many of our

Also this past week, the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of
Canada met to address the same issue.  The primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz,
complained that all he heard were tired old answers; nothing new, and he
said he wasn't "convinced that members were grasping the urgency of our

Two imperatives present themselves: (1) our clergy leadership must be a
highly professional, motivated and accountable, and (2) it is time to stop
diverting resources to the diocese; in fact it is time to reduce the number
of dioceses by 50% or more.

The truth of the opening quotation is obvious and as you can guess, it is
not from someone in Episcopal Orders, it is from Joe Maddon, American League
Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011 and now manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Your questions and comments are most welcome.


  1. This post Gary is fantastic. I agree with you 100%. It is time to devote resources away from Judicatories and back to leaders of congregations and their flocks. There is where the rubber hits the road and we all know it.

  2. Nice let's get to the good stuff! Let's talk about what we might me not only when we reduce those diocese but put it all on the table!

  3. Bishop Stacy Sauls, COO of TEC, is quick to point out that our church spends too much money on administration and governance and too little on mission. He is championing major structural changes at the national level. The same issues are equally obvious at the diocesan level; a major restructure is a must! This, of course, does not automatically guarantee, as I call for, a highly motivated, professional and accountable clergy. We must resist ordaining or consecrating (1) buffoons who parade around like peacocks, (2) autocrats more committed to their prestige and privilege then to the church, and (3) ancients who want validation of their faith; you can easily add to this list. The call to trust local congregations in managing resources is self-explanatory.

  4. This is similar to the Major League Sports team General Manager who spends most of his resources building a very expensive club house and then has few resources left to support the team on the field.


    Of course Sauls worked on a budget lately for the national church that cut almost all mission funding, increased administration, and was contemplated by a rather small group of 6-9 people with no consultation with those who do ministry on the ground or any others.

    Your 1,2,3 sound like a self description from what I understand of your ministry.

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