Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today's Church and its clergy

There's been quite a few newspaper articles regarding the Church's well-being these past couple of weeks. Commentators have identified real world issues that pastors and priests vocationally confront: Clergy burnout, lack of rest and relaxation, and unobtainable congregational demands.

I fortunately have recently returned from my summer vacation. I also was afforded an opportunity by my rector and congregation to attend CREDO back in April. I, thankfully, have more than ample opportunities to rest, go the gym, and take the time I need to nurture and nourish my priesthood. I am blessed - many of my peers in ministry are not so lucky. I know of many ordained persons who have left the ministry or have seriously considered doing so because of the difficulties they (have) experience(d).

Anne Fontaine began a thread about "Scapegoating The Clergy" yesterday. Within that post she included an interesting perspective written by The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton. Nigel+ opined that "It seems that priests are being explicitly used as handy scapegoats for the deeper issues of our day – issues whose presenting symptoms are the economic woes of the wider church; the turning of a mostly latent anti-clericalism into its ugly, active counterpart; the desire by some to exercise more and more control over the nature of priestly identity and ministry." I offered my comments there. I concluded by suggesting that "Episcopalians must continue to consider at congregational, diocesan, and denominational level is Who is Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit's Wisdom and Grace calling us to be given the myriad of realities of living and spreading the gospel in 21st Century contexts."

I struggle with more health issues now that I am more than 50 years old than I did even a few years ago. My aching back from lifting too many bags of concrete and carrying too many pieces of wood at one time reminds me that I must take better care of myself given the contextual realities of my spiritual and practical work. These truths help me to raise the question that I did on Episcopal Cafe as well as other ones. What are you, your families, and your congregations doing to sustain and improve your faith and praxis during this time of tumult in The Church? How are you balancing the beams of your everyday and religious lives in such a way as to be the best Christian you can be as you proclaim the Gospel? The contemporary Church is changing ... clergy and lay people alike are facing many challenges. How shall we succeed on behalf of Jesus Christ?

Blessings Along The Way,

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