In the interest of transparency…

March 12, 2008 — 1 Comment

…I am going to reply to a couple of comments on the last post here on the front page.

Jason wrote:

My greater concern is that what is being expressed is that the positions are being eliminated. Maybe it is legalese to get through the removal of staff without a lawsuit. But if the positions are being eliminated, then we have significant problems in how we are attempting to affirm youth, empower youth and minister to youth in the coming months and years.

Of course I am only a simple little country preacher and speak in no way for the Annual Conference, however what I heard the Bishop say was that there was no intention to eliminate positions dedicated to ministry with youth and children. In fact, he suggested that there would be a nationwide search to hire new people. What is less clear is the timeframe for this and from all indications (and from my experience in conducting searches) we are looking at a gap of several months.

Mark wrote:

You note that there was a breach of trust between employee and employer. I think I would use different language there. It is my view that Beth and Susan weren’t employees of the Bishop or the CCOM Executive Committee, but of the entire Tennessee Conference. It is (or should be) similar to the structure of a local church – the senior pastor is not an employer with church staff as his or her employees.

In the ideal you are correct, however congregations regularly turn over supervisory control of staff to the pastor in charge and SPRC’s regularly follow the supervisor’s lead in decisions of hiring and firing. In the case of the Annual Conference, we have given authority to the Personnel Committee which functions as the SPRC for the Annual Conference. Given what I heard Bishop Wills say, this committee was consulted and made the final decision regarding the positions.

I should also note, and I am reading between the lines here, that I am relatively sure that the Cabinet was at least informed of this decision, and I would not be surprised if they didn’t also have some input into the process. While John Collett tried to keep the peace when asked about this at the Nashville District Minister’s meeting yesterday, he was fairly adamant that this decision is geared toward future growth and ultimately enhancing ministries with children and youth, leading me to think that there has been some level of discussion about the issue at the Cabinet level.

Finally, in the case of Susan, the Bishop does have the final say regarding how and where she serves since she is an appointed deacon. Yes, deacons are responsible for finding their own positions, however they also must seek the approval of the Bishop regarding that appointment. I share that simply to say that I do believe that the Bishop has a role in leading the conference, just as a pastor has a role in leading a congregation.

 

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One response to In the interest of transparency…

  1. 
    Mark F. Hagewood March 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Jay, You are absolutely correct about the Bishop making a deacon’s appointment.

    I agree that the Personnel Committee is the Conference equivalent of an SPRC. Using that analogy, I can imagine the outrage of the members of my congregation if the SPRC at my church decided to fire the youth and children’s directors without input from our youth or children’s council, without a plan for how to carry out the ministries until a new person or persons are found, and without a clear plan formed (or at the very least articulated) on the future or the why’s of this decision.

    If the cabinet was indeed in on this, I am very disappointed. It just means more people knew and not one of them sought input from youth or young adult representatives. And we wonder why the millenial generation doesn’t trust organization and structure.

    Beth was told by the Personnel Committee that the positions were being phased out. There was a vague allusion to another position being created in the future. She was told that she would be welcome to apply for the new position.

    It sounds like the Bishop and the Personnel Committee need to get their stories straight. If this was simply a firing, why was Beth told the positions were being phased out and she could apply for the new position? If the positions were being phased out, why is the Bishop so adamantly denying they were eliminating the positions? Every answer seems to bring more questions.

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