Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Halloween frights

I have learned so much lately working in these hallowed halls. Now that Halloween is around the corner, I feel the season sort of fits into some of the challenges I've faced in the last few days.

Church lingo is such a quagmire of history, politics, verbage baggage. This time of year, we in the halls of Methodism are faced with something called a "Charge conference". I recall last year, when I was but a new fuzzy church baby chick, this word gave me nightmares. I didn't know what it was, I didn't know who anybody or anything much was around me, and that darn phrase kept being thrown out into the ductwork throughout the building. ANy time it was mentioned, someone or something within the confines of the concrete and brick would shudder or moan.

It has taken me a year to get up the courage to see exactly what this blame Charge Conference is. Can you keep a secret? CC is but a bully word. Ah!! a collection of syllables designed to shake and bake the clergy and other church staff. and it works.

In the Baptist world, it is called a Congregational Meeting. I mean, it's nothing like I had pictured in my mind. What a relief. What a temporary relief. It's not a helmet-clad maniac running a muck, but at the same time, Charge Conference isn't a friendly game of Bunko, either.

It is a very paperwork and report driven gathering of people who at least once a year meet to greet new rules, review old ones, and the height of the night is the sacrificial offering of documents that verify the church being charged is in fact, intact according to the rule book that is called the Discipline. The discipline rules, man. If only I had known this when my four daughters were younger. I could have actually had the ability to hold a hard bound book before them during moments of dissention.
" You are going to bed because the "Discipline" says so right here on page 276." I quote,"In cooperation with the cabinet ( that means parental units).... may choose one or more of the following options for a program of remedial action....( If you opt to not to go to bed in a timely fashion, you may choose from the following,)." Leave of absence, voluntary or involuntary (#354- and I can say that walking on your own constitutes voluntary, while being dragged kicking and screaming equals involuntary), Surrender ministerial office( thus giving up your rights to argue), Peer support and supervision ( in the form of siblings)

When faced with these directives, I'm sure my girls would have made simplier choices. I mean you can bore them to death and they will eventually beg to be tucked in, I suppose. But, ah, I slide into the abyss. Bottom line and point here is that I am continuing to learn and this week I learned to stand up to a Charge conference and call it what it is. A lot of work.


Leslee said...

Hmmm... a book of rules so that when they get out of hand you can quote from.... hey, this sounds like a good idea!

jean said...

CC: the bogey-man of the UMC!

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