To the Editor:And what it's reminding me of is my own ordination process -- which I began after serving as a lay professional in the church for a number of years.
G. Jeffrey MacDonald ascribes clergy burnout to “congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.” The real problem is the provider versus consumer mentality.
Ministry is not solely the work of professionally trained clergy. Rather it is a shared enterprise in which lay people are equal partners. Clergy burnout occurs because both parties lose sight of this fact. The result is clergy who believe that they must meet everyone’s needs while playing the
role of a lone superhero, and members of the laity who are either infantilized or embittered because they cannot make meaningful contributions to their church.
Embracing a circular ministry model that values and uses the gifts of laity and clergy while sharing power and authority engages everyone in the work of reconciliation. The big questions are: Will the clergy be able to give up their ascribed power? And will the laity be able to step up to the challenge of their baptism?
New York, Aug. 9, 2010
*The writer is president of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church. *
"What can you do as a priest you can't do as a lay person?" was one of the questions we got during the process. The textbook answer is -- of course -- "bless, consecrate and absolve." But the "other" answer -- the one I gave -- was "work to dismantle clericalism."
I remember in one interview saying that we need to give up on the idea that the congregation hires a priest to stand up front and "be Jesus" for an hour a week so they don't have to. And to do that we were going to need to dismantle clericalism -- which the laity were complicit in perpetuating. And since we hadn't YET dismantled clericalism, in order to be part of the revolution of the baptized some of us needed to use the power of the white plastic around our necks to work from the inside.
And they ordained me anyway.
And Go, Bonnie!!!! (And once we get things settled down on the marriage equality front in CA maybe I'll be get back to that burnout blog.)