The Archdeaconry of Trinity, Conception, Placentia February 22, 2018
I spent time this week with the clergy of our Archdeaconry of Trinity, Conception, Placentia. Almost all the rectors gathered in Clarenville overnight for their annual Lenten retreat. I was really glad to be able to join them and share in a time of reflection, conversation, and prayer. We were joined by Canon Greg Mercer to discuss the work of the Diocesan Commission on Parish Viability and Renewal and I spoke with the clergy for about an hour and a half Wednesday morning, concluding with the Holy Eucharist before we departed. Our time of sharing together was very precious for me and I told the clergy at Clarenville how much I appreciated their kindness and gracefulness toward one another. I am grateful for their commitment to their spiritual lives and to each other. Much credit should be given to Archdeacon Bill Strong for his faithfulness to the clergy and people of the Archdeaconry.
In many ways, ordained ministry is a very lonely place today. Clergy often struggle with unfair expectations and sometimes make ends of themselves trying to meet all of the demands of their congregations. Clergy can be weak in self-care and are frequently there for everyone else but take care of their own needs, and those of their families, not as well. In my time with the clergy on Wednesday we had a very wide-ranging discussion about such matters and the honesty expressed about the all-too-human part of the journey of faith was moving. It was good, however, to hear how many find time to pray and study, with some having spiritual directors and keeping a Rule of Life.
Over 30 years ago, before I was ordained, somebody gave me a short article by the Mennonite writer Walter Klaassen. He called it, “About Pastors in our Congregations,” and I can’t tell you how often I have read it over the years, particularly at difficult and lonely times in a parish. Now as a bishop, those difficult and lonely times seem to come more often. Although Klaassen writes as a Mennonite, reflecting particularly Mennonite concerns, and some of his language is dated to the 1980’s, there continues to be much truth in what he says.
I share with you the words of Walter Klaassen (Click to read) I pray that the clergy who read it will find encouragement.
I pray that the lay people who read it will give thanks for those wonderful and faithful clergy around them.
I know I do.