What is the role of a PCC member?

135

Comments

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I can’t speak for the particular situation, but IME bringing something up as AOB is rarely a good idea, and the more tricky or important the item, the less is it a good idea.
  • Agreed.
  • Seconded. I did this to my PCC and have lived to tell the tale. I thought what I was suggesting was totally uncontroversial. I was wrong.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    It can cause quite a bit of unnecessary friction bringing up something controversial in A.O.B.. It is often perceived as trying to blindside the person who is being challenged, or whose judgement is being questioned. Putting it on the agenda gives everyone time to read it, think about it, and then calm down. If find dropping things on people tends to produce the 'fight or flight' reaction, and my experience it is usually former.

    I had one particularly obnoxious vestry member (he was a union organiser and professional committee sitter) who used to use AOB as his opportunity to push his agenda for the parish. It was very upsetting until I realised he, as the only progressive in a conservative parish, had approximately zero support. He always saved his best stunts for just before I was due to go on vacation, so there was no time for the dust to settle before I went away, and I would have a duly anxious time of it.

    Not all the a***holes in the church are clergy.
  • PDR wrote: »
    It can cause quite a bit of unnecessary friction bringing up something controversial in A.O.B..
    Depends on how it's done, If it's sprung on folk at the end of a routine meeting, it's bad. If it's made known beforehand, it may not - especially if the Chair then sees fit to move it up the order of business.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    Forthview wrote: »
    I am aware that that is fairly standard terminology .I was trying to explain how I, as an outsider, interpreted these words or rather thought about how others interpreted them.

    When I heard people say that such and such a minister had 'received a call' I imagined that it came more or less directly from the Holy Spirit rather than from the vacancy committee.

    Having recently been involved with a nominating committee I'm going to channel Gamaliel and suggest that it is both/and, not either/or. The ideal situation is that both minister and committee, and ultimately congregation, feel that the Holy Spirit is calling that minister, at that time and in that place, and that the congregation expresses that call to the minister.
    This. Our installation liturgies express this as “called by God through the voice of this congregation.”

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I'd strongly advise against bringing up anything potentially controversial or difficult as AOB. Better organisational practice is either not to allow AOBs at all, or only to allow them if either X days prior notice has been given to the secretary or if the AOB is supplemental to something that has been covered in the meeting.

    If we've established that an incumbent cannot require a PCC member to resign unless the member has disqualified themselves (see BroJames's summary), if P doesn't wanted to be pushed off against his will, might not the better approach be simply to sit tight.

    If the incumbent asks him one-to-one to resign, isn't the answer 'The parish elected/selected me to serve for 3 years. I feel it's my duty to serve out my term'.

    If the incumbent makes an issue of this publicly in a PCC meeting, then the answer becomes a more expansively expressed version of the same thing, 'you aren't entitled to call for this. Put like that, I feel it becomes even more my duty to serve out the term for which the parish has elected/selected me'.
  • We have a point that unless AOB is something that needs to be discussed as a matter of urgency then things are best left; however, if anyone has something of moment that needs to be thought about they can raise it with supporting papers under AOB so that people can take away the papers, read the thing up, and then prepare to debate/ discuss at the next PCC. It works reasonably well.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    PDR wrote: »
    It can cause quite a bit of unnecessary friction bringing up something controversial in A.O.B..
    Depends on how it's done, If it's sprung on folk at the end of a routine meeting, it's bad. If it's made known beforehand, it may not - especially if the Chair then sees fit to move it up the order of business.

    Unfortunately, my experience has been that the most determined users of AOB tend to be the ones who like to spring things on people. because they feel it gives them an advantage in the ensuing discussion (shouting match, if they get it wrong!) In this parish I have substituted the term "Matters Arising" for AOB to steer people into giving the vestry clerk a heads up before the meeting on things that come up. I have found that it lowers the stress level appreciably, and we get a lot more done.
  • Yes, the best opportunity to bring things up in our meetings is usually during Matters Arising ( from the Minutes ).
  • In defence of AOB:

    - on occasion, something important will come up after the agenda is prepared but before the meeting. In the absence of AOB, and assuming a formal approach to meetings (and if you don't have a formal approach, why have you got an agenda?) there will be no easy way of discussing the important matter;
    - if you can only discuss things that are on the agenda or (matters arising) were on the agenda last time, then whoever prepares the agenda has total control of what can be talked about. In a typical church, where the only employee is the minister, this is likely to result in them controlling what can be discussed. This doesn't feel healthy to me.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    In our parish the agenda is set by the PCC Standing Committee who are (all but the incumbent) elected by the PCC or the Annual Meeting. Anyone can request an item to go on the agenda, and when they do it usually does.

    Matters arising is only used for things coming out of the minutes of the previous meeting which don’t have any other place on the agenda.

    AOB is to be notified to the PCC secretary no later than 24 hours before the meeting.

    There is discretion for the PCC to accept later AOB if necessary.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    @BroJames - The notification rule is a good way of dealing with the worst aspect of AOB which is the - let's try to be nice about it - surprises.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    I am aware that that is fairly standard terminology .I was trying to explain how I, as an outsider, interpreted these words or rather thought about how others interpreted them.

    When I heard people say that such and such a minister had 'received a call' I imagined that it came more or less directly from the Holy Spirit rather than from the vacancy committee.

    Having recently been involved with a nominating committee I'm going to channel Gamaliel and suggest that it is both/and, not either/or. The ideal situation is that both minister and committee, and ultimately congregation, feel that the Holy Spirit is calling that minister, at that time and in that place, and that the congregation expresses that call to the minister.

    Yep that's called a Baptist church
  • Puzzler wrote: »
    I had a chat with P this morning as we both independently opted to worship in a neighbouring parish, and thoroughly appreciated the proper way in which the service was led. We shared our regrets at what we have lost and what we are expected to put up with back in our parish.
    P said he does not know what to do. It is a huge decision for him to give up Sunday worship in his parish church, where he and at least four generations of his family before him have worshipped all their lives. I am a relative newcomer, yet I feel his pain.

    He did not reiterate his idea of a secret ballot at the next PCC meeting, but I did ask him if he was considering putting an item on the agenda, rather than bringing it up under AOB which he often does. Food for thought. That is as far as we got today.

    A light is glowing brighter … "rather than bringing it up under AOB which he often does."

    The proper way in which the service was led? Proper to whom?

    Ask yourself this: presumably P doesn't think of these things on the fly - they are considered matters. Why not put them on the agenda for others to think through too?

    By putting things out on a regular basis it suggests that P likes to call the shots and be a step ahead of everyone else. AOB is very effective in the right hands -- reflecting on matters that come up out of the agenda/discussion itself: it's also very effective in the wrong ones in depth charging a whole meeting. Meeting Chairs are very weak when they allow the latter kind of manipulation.

    Why does P not table his AOB before the meeting to allow the Chair to decide how to present it?

    Then there's the 4 generations thing … it has overtones "of they are taking away my church." Ask yourself (and others) this question -- what would P have to do for us to ask him to step down? If your answer is different to the conditions you'd impose on anyone else, then you are being controlled, potentially abused.

    I write with some passion as you see. It's all happened to me and despite giving masses of ground, the individual concerned pushed more and more.

    The more you write the more concerned I am that P - albeit with significant grounds for complaint - is showing something of his real, Machiavellian, character here.

    Even if the Vicar left do you think P would be satisfied? It will be something else tomorrow.

    There's still no word of what prayer and grace say here

  • 3. No it doesn't. But I cannot see how you can have such significant issues with the Sunday services and remain on the PCC , if you are not attending.

    [..]

    If he has been asked to resign from the PCC - then if he's not at a main worship service (Sunday) then how can he be said that he's really serving all of God's people, most of whom will not be at a midweek service. Election to a PCC is to serve all, not a few and certainly not representing specific interest groups.

    I'm not sure I agree with this point. Surely a good PCC should represent the whole parish, and provide a representative range of viewpoints? The majority of the PCC will surely be regular Sunday attenders - I don't see how having one member who attends midweek but not on Sunday is a problem. The church is not just its Sunday service.

    What of churches that offer two services on a Sunday - perhaps the main service with all the music, and a shorter spoken service early in the morning. Would you argue that people who regularly attend the early morning service shouldn't serve on the PCC because they don't attend the main service?

    The issue is one of serving the people -- how can you hear from them , talk to them, and share the eucharist with them if you aren't there with them? I'm a bit puzzled as it all seems on the individual's terms rather than the community's.

    If you have a PCC member who only attends midweek, many Sunday attender will not know them. OK I know that work patterns are all over the place but we are talking conscious choice here. Sunday is not the only opportunity for worship but it is likely to be the time when the vast majority of God's people can or chose to worship …. to deliberately absent yourself for whatever reason seems to be making a point that needs to be addressed elsewhere.
  • 3. No it doesn't. But I cannot see how you can have such significant issues with the Sunday services and remain on the PCC , if you are not attending.

    [..]

    If he has been asked to resign from the PCC - then if he's not at a main worship service (Sunday) then how can he be said that he's really serving all of God's people, most of whom will not be at a midweek service. Election to a PCC is to serve all, not a few and certainly not representing specific interest groups.

    I'm not sure I agree with this point. Surely a good PCC should represent the whole parish, and provide a representative range of viewpoints? The majority of the PCC will surely be regular Sunday attenders - I don't see how having one member who attends midweek but not on Sunday is a problem. The church is not just its Sunday service.

    What of churches that offer two services on a Sunday - perhaps the main service with all the music, and a shorter spoken service early in the morning. Would you argue that people who regularly attend the early morning service shouldn't serve on the PCC because they don't attend the main service?

    The issue is one of serving the people -- how can you hear from them , talk to them, and share the eucharist with them if you aren't there with them? I'm a bit puzzled as it all seems on the individual's terms rather than the community's.

    If you have a PCC member who only attends midweek, many Sunday attender will not know them. OK I know that work patterns are all over the place but we are talking conscious choice here. Sunday is not the only opportunity for worship but it is likely to be the time when the vast majority of God's people can or chose to worship …. to deliberately absent yourself for whatever reason seems to be making a point that needs to be addressed elsewhere.

    But isn't one of a PCC's roles to represent all of the congregation? In this case, we know that there is at least one member of the congregation who is only at the midweek service (P themself): is it right to say that this (by itself) means that their views should not be heard at the PCC?

    Somewhere up thread, someone (I think ExclamationMark themself) says something like that PCC members are not there to represent interest groups but to work in the interest of the whole congregation, and to a large extent I agree. But it is - in practice if not in theory - also important to make sure that everyone in the congregation has some sort of representation. This is both to make sure that no one's needs are overlooked, and also to provide specialist knowledge - so we have some idea of what the midweek congregation will tolerate, and what the churchyard maintenance team can deliver, and so on.
  • I recall my previous church making the decision that all business should be with the Church Secretary by the previous week with only real urgent matters coming up having a five-minute time limit. This lasted for about two months.

    Then I had a week where one day I was at an ecumenical observer at Methodist churches meeting, followed by my own church(URC) meeting the next evening. At the other meeting, an urgent issue of Ecumenical solidarity came up. Basically, a Baptist church was being threatened with being taken to court and large fines imposed because they had called their Christmas Fayre a Christmas Market. This would basically have closed the Baptist church if pursued. It was one of those churches that were holding a flame of the gospel a loft in rather a hard area and rarely had more than two pennies to rub together. They were asking for support of better-off congregations of all denominations in dealing with the heavy-handed tactics of the council. Yes, they had made a mistake but the council's reaction was out of proportion to the mistake made.

    I felt that my church would want to know about this and probably act, so I informed the relevant people at the start of the meeting that I intended to bring business under AOB. I was reminded I had five minutes max. I got up, told them what I had heard the previous night and sat down. I was immediately recalled to the microphone to clarify and answer questions. But it was both an issue where a quick response was needed and I could not have put it on the agenda a week before. Indeed 24 hours before would not have been possible.

    AOB does fulfil a useful role if used well.
  • Yes.
    As I said upthread, I have encourage P to get an item on the agenda. Not sure what exactly at the moment.
    One place on our Agenda where totally unexpected things will be said is under Chair’s Remarks, ie the incumbent’s slot. He uses this to announce all sorts of things, often presented as a fait accompli, or, if necessary, to be rubber stamped, but rarely an idea for open discussion.
    On one occasion he presented two options of service patterns, but told us which he wanted us to support.
    But at his first meeting he did say. “I am the incumbent and I can do what I like”. A few months later it was “ if you don’t like what I am doing then maybe you should consider if this is the church for you” and “ if you don’t support me, then you should consider whether you should remain on the PCC”.
    Then “ I am turning this high church into a low church.” And also ( outside of a meeting) I am getting rid of anything that previous incumbents did, or words to that effect.

    Yes, P has his faults, but this is what we are up against.
  • ExclamationMark, I am sorry you have been on the receiving end of a difficult congregant. Just to answer a couple of sore points.

    Q. The proper way in which the service was led? Proper to whom?

    A Let’s say MOTR Anglican, then.
    Wearing robes, cassock alb and stole, rather than lounge suit.
    Not cutting chunks of the liturgy to be replaced by extempore prayers or re- reading a verse from the hymn just sung.
    Leading with confidence and joy, looking happy to be doing so.

    Q Even if the Vicar left do you think P would be satisfied? It will be something else tomorrow.

    A. P has lived through many vicars, loved and argued with them in good measure. This is the first time he has expressed an intention to leave.


    Sorry , I am not good at multiple quotes etc.
  • Jengie Jon wrote: »
    AOB does fulfil a useful role if used well.
    I agree - but it has to be used well, just as you did. That's perfectly valid and within a given timescale.

    Here I make a point of saying that I will be contactable up to 30 mins before any meeting if anyone has anything to raise. It can either be tabled for future discussion (with more info) or discussed on the night if it is urgent.

    AOB should not be used as a means of dropping deadly business or one's own pet peeves into a meeting late in the evening. Like most Chairs I work hard at running and organising a meeting which reflects the needs of the organisation and participants (that's on the local, regional and/or national fora). All the hard work in guiding people comes to naught when AOB bombs go off.

    You'll often find it's the same people - the question I have is why can't it be formally rostered?

  • Puzzler wrote: »
    ExclamationMark, I am sorry you have been on the receiving end of a difficult congregant. Just to answer a couple of sore points.

    Q. The proper way in which the service was led? Proper to whom?

    A Let’s say MOTR Anglican, then.
    Wearing robes, cassock alb and stole, rather than lounge suit.
    Not cutting chunks of the liturgy to be replaced by extempore prayers or re- reading a verse from the hymn just sung.
    Leading with confidence and joy, looking happy to be doing so.

    Q Even if the Vicar left do you think P would be satisfied? It will be something else tomorrow.

    A. P has lived through many vicars, loved and argued with them in good measure. This is the first time he has expressed an intention to leave.


    Sorry , I am not good at multiple quotes etc.

    Thanks.
    1. Would you expect your Vicar to be full of joy knowing the vituperation going on in the church?
    2. It's the first time you know of (didn't you say you'd not been around that long?). Perhaps his argument produced the result he wanted and he isn't getting that now.

    I repeat - what does prayer and grace bring to this?
  • Puzzler wrote: »
    Yes.
    As I said upthread, I have encourage P to get an item on the agenda. Not sure what exactly at the moment.
    One place on our Agenda where totally unexpected things will be said is under Chair’s Remarks, ie the incumbent’s slot. He uses this to announce all sorts of things, often presented as a fait accompli, or, if necessary, to be rubber stamped, but rarely an idea for open discussion.
    On one occasion he presented two options of service patterns, but told us which he wanted us to support.
    But at his first meeting he did say. “I am the incumbent and I can do what I like”. A few months later it was “ if you don’t like what I am doing then maybe you should consider if this is the church for you” and “ if you don’t support me, then you should consider whether you should remain on the PCC”.
    Then “ I am turning this high church into a low church.” And also ( outside of a meeting) I am getting rid of anything that previous incumbents did, or words to that effect.

    Yes, P has his faults, but this is what we are up against.

    It's one of the issues with Anglican Governance that I like the least: hierarchical authority. I'm not an Anglican but have worked with some churches/PCC's from that background and this is often a sticking point irrespective of churchmanship (it might one day be I'm removing all the robes: on another, Father knows best).

    The Vicar clearly is at fault … but perhaps other incumbents have colluded with the PCC or the PCC with the incumbent "because it's Father X." Now you've got someone who won't play the game and expects you all to get on with Mission. Has the PCC and church really looked at itself in the way you expect the Vicar too? Why exactly did you take so long to get a Vicar? Might he be the fall guy in some crazed Archdeacon's desire to bring you to heel given the time taken to get a priest?

    I can help but think that there's fault all round and very little grace here. Churchmanship may be one think provoking it but there's more beneath the surface. Eg what do newcomers to the church really think of P? In what direction do most people want the church to go?

    So P has his faults. You now admit that. What are they, pray? Might it not be time for those to be addressed - you'd then have firmer ground on which to contend with the Vicar.
  • AOB should not be used as a means of dropping deadly business or one's own pet peeves into a meeting late in the evening. ... All the hard work in guiding people comes to naught when AOB bombs go off.
    Exactly.

  • It's one of the issues with Anglican Governance that I like the least: hierarchical authority. I'm not an Anglican but have worked with some churches/PCC's from that background and this is often a sticking point irrespective of churchmanship (it might one day be I'm removing all the robes: on another, Father knows best).
    My last church had good relations with the Parish Church and a joint committee for arranging activities together. If the Vicar (and he was a good Vicar) could not be present no decisions could be taken. This was annoying.

    However ... my wife has pointed out that, in a meeting, my comments tend to carry more weight simply by virtue of my position, and that I need to recognise that. This has varied from church to church, one was a joint URC/Baptist one where the perceived status of the Minister was higher. And there are Baptist churches which have put in place a very rigid leadership structure whereby the Minister and Elders, or even the Minister alone, wield a great deal of power. This to me is not the way that a Baptist/congregationalist church should function - yet (as I discovered years ago when I was involved with a Baptist Union group seeking to bring a very authoritarian church to heel) our way of government is not enshrined in our Declaration of Principle, basically because it had never been brought into question and 'everyone knew' this was the way Baptist churches functioned. (However the mode of church governance may well be set out in the legally-binding Trust Deeds, although strictly speaking these refer to a certain building and the church that meets within it rather than the church as an organised group of people).

    I sense though that this is a bit of a tangent ...

  • EM: "I repeat - what does prayer and grace bring to this?"

    It seems to me that this is an unanswerable question. One of the most difficult people I've ever worked with on a committee was a lovely, spiritual chap. He would have prayed over the agenda very carefully, and listened to what God was saying. Having got that sorted, he expected us all to come to the same conclusions, and was puzzled and immovable when we didn't.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    I am aware that that is fairly standard terminology .I was trying to explain how I, as an outsider, interpreted these words or rather thought about how others interpreted them.

    When I heard people say that such and such a minister had 'received a call' I imagined that it came more or less directly from the Holy Spirit rather than from the vacancy committee.

    Having recently been involved with a nominating committee I'm going to channel Gamaliel and suggest that it is both/and, not either/or. The ideal situation is that both minister and committee, and ultimately congregation, feel that the Holy Spirit is calling that minister, at that time and in that place, and that the congregation expresses that call to the minister.

    Yep that's called a Baptist church

    Pretty sure the sign by the gate says "Church of Scotland" but *shrug* not my denomination, not my fight.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    I am aware that that is fairly standard terminology .I was trying to explain how I, as an outsider, interpreted these words or rather thought about how others interpreted them.

    When I heard people say that such and such a minister had 'received a call' I imagined that it came more or less directly from the Holy Spirit rather than from the vacancy committee.

    Having recently been involved with a nominating committee I'm going to channel Gamaliel and suggest that it is both/and, not either/or. The ideal situation is that both minister and committee, and ultimately congregation, feel that the Holy Spirit is calling that minister, at that time and in that place, and that the congregation expresses that call to the minister.

    Yep that's called a Baptist church

    Pretty sure the sign by the gate says "Church of Scotland" but *shrug* not my denomination, not my fight.

    Sorry it was tongue in cheek …. it's how Baptists tend to do it.
  • Jemima the 9thJemima the 9th Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    I confess the notion of being “brought to heel” does rather raise an eyebrow. I am neither a child nor a dog. ISTM that one of the problems possibly underlying Puzzler’s situation is the fairly broad question of what the incumbent considers his relationship to the congregation to be. At our place, we’ve had rectors who seem to consider themselves to be the grandfather / father of a lovely but occasionally wayward family, and by contrast, those who give the vibe that they consider themselves to be the employer of an organisation. It makes a big difference to how I view my relationship with them.

    As for Puzzler’s incumbent being the fall guy for a crazed plan of the Archdeacon - letting the Archdeacon know what’s going on might help to clarify that possibility somewhat.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    It's one of the issues with Anglican Governance that I like the least: hierarchical authority. I'm not an Anglican but have worked with some churches/PCC's from that background and this is often a sticking point irrespective of churchmanship (it might one day be I'm removing all the robes: on another, Father knows best).

    Decisions about forms of service are not for the incumbent alone to decide. Canon B3 provides
    Decisions as to which of the forms of service authorized by Canon B 1, other than the services known as occasional offices, are to be used in any church in a parish or in any guild church shall be taken jointly by the minister and the parochial church council or, as the case may be, by the vicar of the guild church and the guild church council. In this Canon 'church' includes any building or part of a building licensed by the bishop for public worship according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England.
    It goes on to provide that in the event of disagreement then the BCP (1662) will be used, or whatever authorised form if service was in use in the two years preceding the disagreement.

    Where incumbent and PCC are able to engage in genuine dialogue change and progress can happen, but it can be thwarted by an authoritarian (‘my way or the highway’) incumbent, or intransigent (‘nothing changes here’) PCC members.

    If that sort of conflict gets locked in then outside help may be needed to resolve it.

    IME rural/area deans (I’ve been one) have very little power and only as much influence as their personal respect commands. Archdeacons have a little more, principally because it is expected that what they know the bishop knows.
  • New Archdeacon since the appointment, but good point nonetheless.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    I confess the notion of being “brought to heel” does rather raise an eyebrow.
    Perhaps it wasn't the best phrase to use, so let me put it in context (and I know this is in danger of creating a parallel thread).

    British Baptist churches are congregational in polity. Although they have Ministers and Deacons/Elders, the primary decision making body is the church members coming together as the Church Meeting. Baptists are also connexional, i.e. individual churches are in fact independent members of a Union and can't be "told what do do" by their Regional Ministers nor by Bishops, Synods, Conference or whatever (of course there are legal provisos to do with charity and financial law etc).

    In the instance I was citing, a local church, much influenced by certain parts of the charismatic movement, had become very authoritarian in its structure, with the leadership very much calling the shots and Church Meetings both reduced in frequency and also basically restricted to endorsing decisions that had already been made. This, the denomination felt, was not the way that our churches should work; so a group was convened with the purpose of discovering if there was any way in which pressure could be exerted to make it revert to our basic principles. In fact, due to the very general way in which our "Declaration of Principle" is couched, there seemed to be no way of doing this. See: https://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/220595/Declaration_of_Principle.aspx.

    My understanding is that this particular congregation eventually left the Baptist Union anyway as it felt more akin to one of the charismatic denominations. I don't know how they got round the legal issues of "trust" with their buildings.

  • Jemima the 9thJemima the 9th Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    Thanks, BT, that’s very informative.
    You & ExclamationMark both used the phrase, and it was more his use of it that raised the eyebrow. Sorry, I should have quoted to be clearer, I shall next time.
    In your context, it seems that it was the leadership of the church who needed, er, an honest challenge? Would that be better? - because they had become authoritarian. As then detailed in your next post, this led to less of a say for the congregation members.
    EM’s use of the phrase seemed to be more about giving the congregation a ticking off and reminding them who’s in charge ie the incumbent. That’s what grated with me.
    Of course there are rules & procedures that must be adhered to, and of course there are difficult decisions that have to be made, and of course those decisions have to be made by someone, and in terms of consequences, that is going to be incumbent. But it does seem to me that some members the church hierarchy sometimes have a remarkable ability to treat grown adults like children.
    Edited to remove a bit about my own church history!
  • In your context, it seems that it was the leadership of the church who needed, er, an honest challenge? Would that be better? - because they had become authoritarian.
    Exactly so.

  • In the core discussion, I've mainly taken the OP's side - because from what we've heard, the church is being ill-served by the new incumbent. But it does seem to me that after a three-year interregnum, the parish was probably fairly willing to accept anyone who would come: at the same time, the sort of people who would apply for parishes that had had a three year vacancy would also be people who were fairly desperate for a job - any job. (Yes, I know it's meant to be a vocation, and that people go where God sends them - but it's also a way to have a roof over your head and put food on the table. Ministers are human and surely will have human flaws as much as the rest of us).

    So do we have an 'awkward' parish with an 'awkward' minister - neither of whom fit each other, and who would both be happier apart? If that's the case, then it would be best if everyone could agree on that, and start working towards everyone moving on. That means somehow allowing the minister enough of a success and rebuild of their confidence so that they can apply successfully for a job elsewhere, while at the same time allowing the continuing parish to build enough self confidence such that it will be an attractive berth for your next incumbent.
  • The issue is one of serving the people -- how can you hear from them , talk to them, and share the eucharist with them if you aren't there with them? I'm a bit puzzled as it all seems on the individual's terms rather than the community's.

    But the people at the midweek service are also the people.
    If you have a PCC member who only attends midweek, many Sunday attender will not know them.

    Our place has two Sunday services. My family always attends the later one, with the robed choir and all the trimmings. I think I've been to the early service once in the last decade, when I had some kind of schedule constraint. There are lots of early-morning regulars, therefore, that I almost never see in church. Apart from at Christmas and Easter, perhaps I never share the Eucharist with them.

    Yet some of them I know quite well, because I've got to know them at other church events. As it happens, one of them is on our Vestry at the moment. I never see her on Sundays, but she's still part of our community, and I expect she does a fine job on the Vestry. I'm sure there are some people who are regular Sunday worshippers but don't come to any of the social events and don't volunteer for the same things she does who don't know her at all.

    That's OK. Why do you think it isn't?
  • Thanks, BT, that’s very informative.
    You & ExclamationMark both used the phrase, and it was more his use of it that raised the eyebrow. Sorry, I should have quoted to be clearer, I shall next time.
    In your context, it seems that it was the leadership of the church who needed, er, an honest challenge? Would that be better? - because they had become authoritarian. As then detailed in your next post, this led to less of a say for the congregation members.
    EM’s use of the phrase seemed to be more about giving the congregation a ticking off and reminding them who’s in charge ie the incumbent. That’s what grated with me.
    Of course there are rules & procedures that must be adhered to, and of course there are difficult decisions that have to be made, and of course those decisions have to be made by someone, and in terms of consequences, that is going to be incumbent. But it does seem to me that some members the church hierarchy sometimes have a remarkable ability to treat grown adults like children.
    Edited to remove a bit about my own church history!

    Sorry to have caused offence to you personally: unintended, please forgive. The phraseology reflected words used in a similar situation elsewhere (not by me, I hasten to add).

    I've removed a fair bit of my own references here, as to say much more would immediately blow what's left of my cover. Please believe me, though, when I say that I have been in this position as a congregation member, church leader, minister and as mediator (with the exception of minister in more than one denomination). It is so hard when there is possibly at least two views on what is right or might be considered as "right."

    I do wonder how they can all gather around the eucharist with any kind of grace
  • The issue is one of serving the people -- how can you hear from them , talk to them, and share the eucharist with them if you aren't there with them? I'm a bit puzzled as it all seems on the individual's terms rather than the community's.

    But the people at the midweek service are also the people.
    If you have a PCC member who only attends midweek, many Sunday attender will not know them.

    Our place has two Sunday services. My family always attends the later one, with the robed choir and all the trimmings. I think I've been to the early service once in the last decade, when I had some kind of schedule constraint. There are lots of early-morning regulars, therefore, that I almost never see in church. Apart from at Christmas and Easter, perhaps I never share the Eucharist with them.

    Yet some of them I know quite well, because I've got to know them at other church events. As it happens, one of them is on our Vestry at the moment. I never see her on Sundays, but she's still part of our community, and I expect she does a fine job on the Vestry. I'm sure there are some people who are regular Sunday worshippers but don't come to any of the social events and don't volunteer for the same things she does who don't know her at all.

    That's OK. Why do you think it isn't?
    . It can be ok but you don't go to the service because you are at odds with the Vicar over another service. Some times fit best for some people: some people like a particular type of worship: no problem. But the real aim of any elected church servant is to serve others -- not some others but represent all albeit with specialised knowledge.

    Of course we do not have to agree but there needs at least to be some love and some recognition that it isn't about us but about God. I am far from saying the Vicar is right but I have a strong feeling, borne out of significant experience I have to say, that he isn't the only one who is in the wrong somewhere. It is rarely simple and always painful IME.
  • Thanks, BT, that’s very informative.
    You & ExclamationMark both used the phrase, and it was more his use of it that raised the eyebrow. Sorry, I should have quoted to be clearer, I shall next time.
    In your context, it seems that it was the leadership of the church who needed, er, an honest challenge? Would that be better? - because they had become authoritarian. As then detailed in your next post, this led to less of a say for the congregation members.
    EM’s use of the phrase seemed to be more about giving the congregation a ticking off and reminding them who’s in charge ie the incumbent. That’s what grated with me.
    Of course there are rules & procedures that must be adhered to, and of course there are difficult decisions that have to be made, and of course those decisions have to be made by someone, and in terms of consequences, that is going to be incumbent. But it does seem to me that some members the church hierarchy sometimes have a remarkable ability to treat grown adults like children.
    Edited to remove a bit about my own church history!

    Sorry to have caused offence to you personally: unintended, please forgive. The phraseology reflected words used in a similar situation elsewhere (not by me, I hasten to add).

    No offence taken, EM, and thanks for being so kind.
    Your experiences from all your different roles are really helpful to read. It really is a complicated business.
  • Any updates, Puzzler?
  • Not at the moment. P is on holiday.
  • Everyone behaving then?
  • Hmm.

    It may be that P is a lone voice, crying in the wilderness, or it may be that he is articulating concerns which others find it difficult to express.

    Hopefully, some (at least) of the issues @Puzzler has mentioned will be discussed, and resolved, at the next PCC.

    Either way, it may be just me, but I hesitate to probe too far into a particular church's internal affairs. As others have said, we don't have full access to both sides of the story, and, even if we did, we would still be in no position to make judgements...

    No disrespect to @Puzzler, who is obviously quite concerned, and distressed, at the way things are going.
  • Thanks, Bishop’s Finger.
    I have personally taken a step back at the moment, waiting to see how things pan out.
  • I think you're wise to do so.
    :wink:
  • Yep I'm with BF. Be aware of P getting you into something you regret later. If you have your own issues with the Vicar then go to see him - advise P to do the same.
  • Update.
    At the last PCC the incumbent was not present, being “ out of action”, so only routine matters of buildings and finance etc were addressed.
    I have requested an item re Services on the next Agenda.
    Further events have resulted in the Area Dean and the Archdeacon becoming involved.
    A lovely lady who used to be very involved in a quiet way as server, unofficial sacristan and much more, spoke of the “ disaster which is St.Ms”. People are suffering. More are taking a back seat, more are leaving, two are in the throes of a mental breakdown.
    Lord, have mercy.
    I cannot comment further just now.

  • Prayers for all at St M's.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    Prayers for all @Puzzler, having been through a similar damaging fiasco I know the pain and heartache involved 🕯.
  • I'm so sorry @Puzzler. It is so dispiriting to have to suffer this sort of thing. I hope for your sake, and the parish, that the Archdeacon gets a handle on this quickly : in my experience a period of chaos or unhappiness such as you describe can take three (or more) times as long to fix as it lasts.
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