I finally finished all the Charge Conference reports on Sunday. Later that night, with some help from my Beloved, I wrote my newspaper article about the process. You can read it here: http://www.krumumc.org/articles/2008/nov_21_it_is_finished.shtml. I really dislike forms--most of them don't make much sense to the way my mind works, so having to work through multiple ones, and ones I consider very poorly designed, has been very, very frustrating.
Tomorrow, the District Superintendent will be here and he, along with however many of the congregation show up (and I don't expect many) will hear a few of those reports, they'll vote on whether they will or will not approve my salary for next year, and whether we will change the name of the church from Krum UMC to First UMC, Krum.
I wonder about this vote on my salary. A decent raise was recommended by Staff/Parish, and the Finance Ministry folded it into the budget, but it still has to come before the church for discussion and approval. I was at a clergy luncheon meeting yesterday and spoke with a friend of mine who is pastoring a troubled church in a Dallas suburb. She said that she was informed by her Staff/Parish committee that they wanted to cut her salary by more than half and go to a part-time clergy person. She, of course, informed her District Superintendent, who came down pretty hard on my friend, suggesting that she might want to re-think her call to the ministry of the ordained. I found this response shocking--the problems at that church have been a long time in the making and this friend has been there only since June. Anyone with any knowledge of systems and institutional life and the change process knows that no quick fix works there.
Anyway, to get back to the salary situation--what if there are those who don't like what I'm doing--but who won't speak with me face to face about this--decide to use the Charge Conference as a way to indicate their lack of confidence in me and both speak against and vote against the raise? I know I"m still wrestling with these unseen undercurrents that I just can't seem to bring to the surface, and that doesn't help right now. But it surely does seem like this simply helps put pastors on a performance basis--either do what the moneyed people of the church want, or be prepared to be embarrassed. I don't know if there is a better way to handle this or not. I just know I feel so exposed about this. No one else has to disclose their salaries, but I most definitely must. Very awkward. Probably as awkward for them as it is for me.