Monday, January 26, 2009

Saint Middle School

So here's what I'm doing these days at Saint Middle School:

Teaching Adult Forum most Sundays
Preaching at least once a month
Leading the first half of the service every Sunday I'm there
Proofing the bulletin
Proofing the Announcements
Writing articles for the e-bulletin
Hitting the Master-Reset button periodically for folks who feel the need to fill that vacuum of power since we don't have a vicar right now
Pestering our group of supply priests for the rota of who is going to be here when
Providing pastoral care for several parishioners
Organizing the lay pastoral care ministry
Talking with the assistant principal of the actual Middle School where we meet about whether we really did move magnets on a teacher's blackboard (I kid you not)
Coordinating with diocesan folks on the status of things.

In theory, as a seminarian, I am supposed to spend 12 hours a week (including commuting the 40 miles in each direction) doing SMS work. They pay me a grand total of $425 to cover gas and tolls per semester. I'm grateful for the breadth of experience I'm getting, and yet I'm feeling somewhat taken advantage of. I'd like to speak up about it, but fear they would think me a whiner.

What is wrong with this picture? Some guidance from you wonderful experienced RevGals would be greatly appreciated.


Rev Dr Mom said...

So who is supposed to be in charge? Vestry? Wardens? It sounds like no one is taking responsibility for the place except you, and that is hardly fair.

Do you have a faculty member who oversees field placements? Would that person be of any assistance in helping you set some firm boundaries?

I hear what you are saying about sounding whiny, but you have valid concerns. You cannot be the interim. No matter how talented and committed you are, you are still a seminarian.

Could you outline what you think is reasonable for you to oversee and ask that WHOEVER is in charge make sure the rest gets done?

Good luck with this one!

mibi52 said...

The question of who is in charge is a large part of the problem, RDM. This is a parochial church plant. The rector of the mother church believes he is in charge, but he is 1) a vision guy, not a detail person, and 2) managing the mother church which is in the midst of a capital campaign. He responds only to crisis calls.

The suffragan who is in charge of all new churches in the diocese believes he is in charge, but expects his diocesan transition specialist to keep him posted, and she is so busy that she views her role as responding to problems rather than initiating contact. I met with her at Diocesan Council this past weekend and brought her up to speed.

The Senior Warden believes he is in charge and wants to implement a thousand changes that only he cares about. He also misinterprets the rector of the mother church's random ideas and proposals as fait accompli.

I am not under the supervision of the seminary faculty for this semester for a variety of very complicated reasons not of my doing.

So your wise words are on target. I'm going to lay out my areas of responsibility and let go of those things that are not, and somebody is going to have to be the cat-herder other than me.

Having run large organizations before, my tendency when I see a need for order is to step in and impose it (the mommy complex or something like it). And with a real mixed bag of folks to whom I could delegate, and who are all pretty tired six years into this church plant, it's a challenge to get others to step up.

Nevertheless, I've got to make clear to all the players here that there are limits.

Thanks for the ideas and most of all for listening to the rant.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Oh my sweet Jesus, what a mess! Good luck with all this...and I sooo understand the whole mommy complex-step in a fill a vacuum thing....

Kathryn said...

Oh my! That's one heck of a lot to be dealing with, - and way outside what any ordinand ought to have to cope with. Here, the moment the vicar disappeared you would have been recalled, as the emphasis is very strongly on your learning FROM the experienced priest...This is the kind of baptism of fire that could kill or cure! Praying that you find someone to take some degree of responsibility off your shoulders. You CANT do it all alone - your priority right now is surely study?