At the Conference meeting this past weekend I was on tap to introduce one of the proposals (only fitting since I wrote the thing--I will post it once I am back in the office where I have it on the computer--EDIT, it is now here). However other business took too long and so that particular proposal was one of the ones referred to the Executive for consideration. Had I made the intro here is what it would have sounded like...
Good afternoon. I am Gord Waldie, and while Paul may tell me that I live and move and have my being in God, in more practical terms I live and work and share my ministry with Northern Lights Presbytery, the congregation of St. Paul's United in Grande Prairie, and my wife and our 4 wonderful (if often challenging) children. And it is that last piece that brings me to this microphone today.
But first I need to make a confession, because they say that confession is good for the soul -- and I am sure that at least one of the 2 people in this room who taught my first year Pastoral Care course at St. Andrew's told us we should encourage people to do things that are good for the soul. I am, as many people in this room can attest, a Below Average Minister. And in fact this is related to the proposal I am about to make, because to move from being Below Average, to Average, to (hopefully some day) Above Average means that you need support along the way. [If you want to know why I am so sure I am Below Average, come visit me at the Business table and in exchange for a contribution to the M&S Fund I will tell you].
573 weeks ago this afternoon a group of us gathered here in Calgary for a worship service where then Conference President Stuart Jackson declared a group of us to be members of the Order of Ministry in the United Church of Canada. For most of my time in ministry the United Church has been talking openly about the expressed reality that many ministry personnel feel isolated and unsupported and wondering how best to deal with that reality. And many good suggestions have been made in those discussions. But they have often missed a key piece. If you want to support me as a minister then you need to also support my family. And this brings us to the proposal (see I did get to it eventually).
To be honest, this is not my idea. The seed of this idea was planted by my wife. So if you like the idea please give her the credit. If you think forming a new committee is a bad idea, give me the blame. But one day while we were watching TV Patty shared a vision of a retreat for clergy families. This would be a time not only for clergy to gather but also clergy partners/spouses (I always think that should be spice, given what they add to our lives)/significant others and their children. During the retreat there would be general community building and worship and relaxation and recreation activities. But there would also be time for clergy to gather together and talk about whatever issues that they want to discuss, for clergy partners to do the same, and for children to do the same in some way. Since that evening the idea has niggled in the back of my brain. And this year I decided it was time for the next step.
To me the logical next step is to get a group of people together to discuss the feasibility and logistics of this type of event. And so I am proposing that this Conference create an ad-hoc committee to determine if such a retreat is feasible and, if so, to plan out the where, when, how of running it. This committee would then take their findings and/or plan to the Conference Executive for further action.
PS> here is the post where I first mused about this retreat idea