lundi, juin 12, 2006

Watch out, clergy!

Tonight I attended a meeting of a charitable non-profit board. Our token guy was absent. Honestly I have no idea if thats why it quickly became a very merry meeting,with lots of sidebar whispers and laughter. On the other hand, we got a lot done. Afterwards we sat around and...the only word I can find for what we did was gossip. No one was immune. Clergy came in for their share of criticism. Some hair-raising stories were told. As a member of the white around the collar club myself, it is always salutary to hear what folks in the congregation think about our foibles. I was reminded of several recent chats I had with Catholic friends. One family, who has young children, deliberately chose a church in the next town because they had heard their local priest wasn't easy to get along with. Another woman tried the local parish about fifteen years ago, but ended up back at the church she had attended before they moved. I don't, in principle approve of choosing a pastor on the basis of his or her personality. But I do think it's healthy that parishioners are now much freer to say what they think about the clergy when chatting with one another. It's even healthier when they can say it to that clergyman or clergywoman's face. The women who hung out with me tonight included a high ranking consultant, a banker, a nurse, a librarian, someone in the financial services industry and a gifted volunteer with a disciples call to serve the poor. Why the heck shouldn't they have, not only an opinion, but a voice? I left thinking...thank God we have such tolerant, loving, and bright laypeople in the church. It gives us clergy a standard of excellence to which we can aspire.

1 commentaire:

Catherine + a dit…

Hello E+, I loved this piece! I have heard similar "gossip" at evening educational programs, in the pews before and after church, and what a relief it is to hear comments about Murphy, my priest's dog and his latest antics, or my priest's sense of humor, how she makes us laugh during the sermon, or the associate rector, who when pewside, fidgets and jingles his change and keys.

This is not to say that I haven't brought her to task, maybe once, for an off-the-wall post service comment whils she is womaning her post at the door greeting and bidding farewell to us as we leave.

But all it takes is a little kind email to mention it and talking about it; her confessing that she gets in a "mode" sometimes and that others have mentioned her curt replies too. But we love her and are loathed to think of not having her present to gently chide us and joke, making us laugh at ourselves and her on occasion!

Yeah, the laity are awesome little jewels!