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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

GOEs Part Deux: Reality Bites

One of the GOE readers wrote: "I can tell you we always pray they answer the questions that are actually asked!"

And I responded: I get that, but I gotta tell ya, as I've been "shooting arrow prayers" off and on all day for those taking GOEs, I've found myself reflecting on the important questions of parish ministry that never get taught, much less asked on GOEs.

Like what? You ask. Well, here are a few . . .

1. You have just had a breakfast meeting with a parishioner who originally "just wanted to catch up" which evolved into a conversation about the fact that her doctor just called and there is a lump in her breast and wants to schedule a biopsy. You walk from the diner to your office, grateful that you have arrived 30 minutes earlier than usual and have time to process what you just heard, only to discover a line of people waiting outside your door, which includes the UPS guy who wants you to sign for a package, an anxious Day Care teacher who wants you to know that the tile in one of the classrooms has lifted and must be replace before the state inspection next week and what are you going to do about that, and your 'favorite' parishioner who is waving last Sunday's bulletin in the air, saying loudly, "There are two typo's in this bulletin, and that is the third time this month alone. I'm going to decrease my pledge by $1 every time I find a typo." Your parish administrator is not due in for another hour. In a three page essay, discuss the meaning of Luke 23:34 and its implications for pastoral intervention in these situations.

2. The roof on the church and parish hall have been leaking for the past 4 years. You have finally convinced the Vestry of the need to have the roofs assessed. You have just reviewed all the information and find that the roofs need to be completely replaced at an estimated minimum cost of $100,000. What are the various ways of raising these needed funds and on what scriptural principles would you base your strategy (because you'll need to say something really profound in order to convince your finance committee to act in this financial climate.)? What ethical principles are indicated here? Cite applicable moral theology.

3. Your day includes a scheduled meeting with your Worship Committee to review the Advent/Christmas liturgy and music, a telephone interview with the local press to talk about your feelings about Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inauguration, trying to reach the webmaster (again) to update the web page after the holidays and before Lent begins, a meeting with the hospitality committee chair to coordinate the next month's events, a meeting with the co-chairs of the Altar Guild to discuss (again) why it is we don't re-consecrate the bread that was20left over from the 8 AM service at the 10 AM service, and yet another meeting with the Finance Committee to develop the third draft of the 2009 budget. One of your recent college graduates stops by and says, "I think, I mean . . .I've been thinking . . .I mean, I've been feeling that . . . Well (cough, stammer, looking down while shifting weight on feet) . .God may be calling me to ordination." In a three page essay, please answer: On what basis would you make your claim that priesthood is a meaningful vocation that can assist transformation in people's lives of faith? Please cite scripture and church history in your answer.

Yeah, it's been one of those days . . . .I just wrote all that without breaking a sweat!

There are some days when I remember that it took ten years to pay off my seminary loan debt and I laugh and shake my head. And then there are other days when . . .well. . .let's just say my response to that memory is less than gracious.

I suppose there's something to be said about that old adage, "Ignorance is bliss."

And, even on "one of those days" I know that I can do all of these things because, God help me (and S/he does!), the One who gave me "the will to do these things" has also given me "the grace and power to perform them."

I'm just glad I took the GOEs when I did. I think the more parish ministry experience you have, the less likely you are to pass them successfully - especially when limited to three page essays!!!!

Oh, the things we do for Jesus!


Mary Sue said...

Regarding number 2, my answer would be:

I would call an emergency Finance Committee meeting and hand around an excerpt from Father T's blog post here, specifically " I once told a vestry that the best thing that could happen to our building was that it burned to the ground." Then I would hand around copies of the roof report and ask for five minutes of prayerful reflection.

During that time I would play with my Zippo lighter, flicking it on and off.

And that's pretty much why God and I are a-ok with my calling to the laity. :D

Jane R said...

Actually, question 1 sounds like omne of the actual questions...:-P

gerry said...

Also regarding #2, our roof has been leaking intermittently since 2000. We went through two architectural engineering consultants. The Rector retired and we called an interim. The interim looked around and said, we gotta fix this, and this and that, etc.

After much prayer and planning, we launched a Capital Campaign Appeal for $725,000 on September 26, 2008 to supplement existing funds. The next day the stock market went into the tank.

On Ephiphany the formal Appeal closed having raised $725,480.

God is Manifest!!!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mary Sue - I'd love to have you on my vestry. You sure would shake things up.

Jane R - I wish there were more of those questions. Then Bishops and COMs would get a REAL read on what kind of leader they are going to ordain.

Gerry - A Capitol Fund Drive during the Interim!! Wow! That takes faith, and courage, and . . . well, I am truly amazed.

Well done.