Friday, February 6, 2009

Part 7: Sticks and Stones...

I went to the emergency PPR meeting still very angry...and also somewhat scared. I didn't know what to expect. I did know that I was furious at what I saw as betrayal.; my PPR chair had called the D.S. and ranted and raved without speaking to me first, without even alerting me.

As the meeting began and progressed, it became clear that my PPR chair and Lay Leader were trying to think of anything that might possibly discredit me, even if it involved distorting the truth. A few of their complaints:
  • I did not visit "as a pastor should." (Um...I thought we had taken care of that in January?)
  • The parsonage was "in bad shape" and needed to be "completely redone." (I didn't realize that a coat of paint and repairing a few scratches qualified as "redoing" a parsonage.)
  • I had left town overnight the week before and my PPR chair couldn't reach me. (Bull, crap. She called me on my cell phone when I was out of town. And I had told her when and where I was going.)
  • Missing church the weekend Woody died and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • My husband being unfriendly.
My reactions got more and more indignant, until my D.S. suggested that he meet us down at the parsonage after he was done with the church. In addition to whatever concerned me, he needed to discuss possibilities for their next pastoral appointment. The long and the short of it was, that he and my PPR chair agreed that she would write up everything they had discussed, send it to him, he would edit it and make suggestions, and then she and the PPR would discuss it with me.
Ten days later, we had an Administrative Council meeting. On the agenda? The following list titled "Minimum Expectations of the Pastor":
  1. Visitation of prospective members after second visit to the church.
  2. Visitation of homebound members (I already did this; I had them on a once-a-month rotation)
  3. Arrangements made for coverage when pastor is away (they got upset when I went away overnight a few times and didn’t get someone to cover for me...although I’d given out my cell phone freely and would have returned in the event of a death/emergency. But, OK.)
  4. Chair of PPR to be contacted when absence is planned5. Arrangements made for absence at least two weeks in advance (preferably a month) unless family (human) emergency. (they were very upset when I didn’t show up to preach the day after Woody died...although I arranged for a lay speaker to come. Apparently the objection was that I chose my dog over my flock. Guess who’s shown me more loyalty?)
  5. Dog to be restrained when in parsonage (not allowed to be on church property-sofa, chairs, etc). We didn’t allow him on church-owned furniture, although he did occasionally jump up on it, anyway. He was also in a crate whenever we were out of the house.
  6. Mold, mildew in master bath to be removed with Clorox at least weekly. They thought it was a "cleaning issue." I thought it was a "health issue." Never mind the fact that I mentioned the mold back in September 2006 and in June 2007 the church council approved the installation of an exhaust fan...that hadn't been installed.
  7. Outside pole light to be repaired ASAP. We had this lamp post outside that kept falling down; it wasn’t stuck in the ground very well to begin with. They thought that it was our fault; we thought it was installed poorly.
  8. Hole in linen closet to be repaired ASAP to prevent further intrusion of pests. This hole was present when we moved in; there were a couple of mice in the house when we moved in. Thanks to D-Con, they’re gone now.
  9. Scratches on hardwood floors to be repaired ASAP. These were really all surface scratches and were made more visible because I hadn’t polished the floors in a while. After this, I started polishing them every week, and they looked much better.
  10. Towel rack in master bath to be repaired ASAP. (We didn’t do anything to it; it just kept falling down. So, we removed the bar and haven’t used it in over a year.)
  11. At least the living room should be neat in appearance at all times, to reflect positively on the church (we don’t have a family room, so the living room is where we LIVE. Plus, I’m a single mother during the week who works a full-time job.)
  12. Boxwoods (killed or damaged by dogs urinating on them) to be replaced ASAP. Harry flatly refused to do this. Besides, landscaping was the church’s job, and I didn't have time to transplant boxwoods. We had also experienced two dry summers. And if they were so concerned, why didn't they suggest that we put up a barrier around them from the get-go?
  13. Dog to be restrained when outside to prevent urinating on parsonage landscaping. I think not. BITE ME. We did, however, place a garden fence around the precious boxwoods.
  14. Cars and truck must not be parked on parsonage front lawn, especially during and after a rain. I agreed to this, but with reservations. We didn't have a side door, really. Often, the easiest way for us to load/unload from a trip was to pull the car up to the front door.
  15. Day off per week must be decided upon and held to unless emergency. OK, fine. I did this anyway.
  16. Church office must be clean and neat at all time to reflect positively on the church. Gosh, we’re really concerned about the church looking good, aren’t we? Anyway, I agreed to this, although I was the only one who used the church office (only the pastor and the PPR Chair have keys).
  17. Deck should be pressure washed and treated ASAP. Thankfully, my parsonage committee chair spoke up and said that this was the church’s responsibility.
I really felt humiliated and betrayed after this meeting, especially since I had a feeling that the Ad Council meeting was not the appropriate venue for this. However, I wasn't positive, so I didn't say anything. Turned out that I was right. So what did I do the next morning? I called my D.S., explained what had happened, and then faxed him the list.

Almost over! Click here for the finale.

1 comment:

John said...

One of the oddities that I discovered in my own experience was how dissenters could simply lie their asses off (such as your PPRC chair saying that she couldn't contact you when you were out of town), it was possible to prove when they're lying, and it doesn't damage their credibility to keep on lying in the future.

A couple of years ago I read a book called Clergy Killers that mentioned this phenomenon. Dishonesty is a serious advantage.