Thursday, 19 June 2008

At the Café

My contribution regarding clergy, professionalism and management has been published at Episcopal Café at the Daily Episcopalian.

I am very pleased to see that the first comment begins: "This is an excellent article. " Well I can be pleased about that. Philip Cato is, however, critical of my thoughts as I go away from professionalism and towards management skills. It's where I cover the possibility of lay presidency of the Eucharist.

I should just say in some of my channel hopping I stopped to view and stayed with an Orthodox liturgy in Canada, and very effective it is. Whilst I have CDs of Orthodox music and music inspired by the Orthodox, I've never viewed an Orthodox service before.

Philip Cato makes the point, and it's a good one, that laity do not have the vocation to preside at the Eucharist, and perhaps they would not want to if clergy were clergy and stopped also trying to be something else.

My thought processes come from a number of writings that have discussed solutions to the clergy and resources problem, and the idea of cells that would form with radical solutions regarding worship and leadership. The radical solutions push for effectively a lay Church - my point is that faced with resource problems and needs for co-ordination the Church of England is going down the road of ordaining more unpaid ministers after periods of non-residential training. Training in some cases can be pretty quick.

I have a conflict within myself that is unresolved. It is that I want liturgy and ritual to work, to have a power and be effective. That means an element of difference, a space, and a person in the space. On the other hand, I hate glorified titles, bowing, scraping, aggrandisement, and puffed up nonsense. When I was in the Unitarians, I had a gown made, and rather more elaborate than most, and yet it would be something that could be worn by anyone (well, anyone as tall as me).

My view of clergypeople is, if you are going to have them, pay them and create a space so they can be for others. Active retired or otherwise supported are all right. Don't do it on the cheap. Otherwise, even if you identify a ritual vocation, it doesn't take that much to train people to read or sing liturgy, follow the book, or even write your own, and lead it, and do the ritual act. It's not that any lay person would do the ritual act, but there is no need to have a separate priest-class and reserve place unless you do it properly, and make and support people for others. And, my point is, when the person is paid, he or she can co-ordinate for the church in the area, having management skills with the volunteers doing the jobs.

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