Wednesday, April 27, 2005

My licensing interview

Before I say anything let me say, that the Ministerial Standing committee voted to recommend me for the license to the Ministerium. So, all is good. Let me also say that Superintendent elect Jerome Nelson and the four other ministers on the committee were gracious if also persistent. What follows should not reflect on them as persons or minsitries, but simply the difficulties of attempting a local ecumenical work.
Basically I was blindsided by the line of questioning that I faced in the interview by no ones fault realy. It's like I went in to defend my thesis and ended up having to defend my right to defend my thesis. So, essentially I was only asked one question concerning my statement of faith paper, and instead had to defend Reconciler as a ministry and my connection to the order, discipline and accountability structures of the Covenant. In hind sight, I suppose I should have expected this line of questioning. However, I had assumed that given the extraordinary nature of Reconciler that the committee would have been informed not only about Reconciler and what we envision for the church but also have been informed that I have done nothing without the permission and support of the former Superintendent, and the current Associate Superintendent. I was also, not aware of how little knowledge the Superintendent elect had about Reconciler and the process I have followed with Herb, the former superintendent and then subsequently with Jolene.
Given my assumptions and their lack of knowledge, I failed to fully comprehend their questions initially. Then it began to dawn on me that they were asking how I was connected to and under the authority structures of the Covenant Church. However as I tried to explain the process that I followed and that I had been in conversation with Herb and Jolene from the beginning, I was already working against a perception that I had gone out and done this on my own and then was coming after the fact to the ministerial standing committee asking them to license me for a ministry that I had invented for myself without regard for the procedures of the institution.
I obviously was able to convince them that I was attempting to work within the structures, but they also indicated that they felt I did not understand those structures and procedures. When they called me back in to tell me of their decision, I had to reassure them that yes everything they were telling me I knew and that I understood the nature of the license I was being recommended for and I knew they were not the ones to issue the license.
It was clear that the concern of the committee was that they were being asked to recommend me for something over which the Covenant would have no possible oversight. A concern I had assumed would have been addressed by the fact that I didn't even begin to work with Tripp and Jane until I had the permission and support of the former superintendent, and by the fact that the associate superintendent not only supports me but installed me as a Covenant pastor this past Sunday at Reconciler.
So, they have recommended I be licensed under the direct supervision of the associate superintendent, and with the qualification that my license and standing in the Covenant and Reconciler's relationship to the Covenant will be reevaluated in a years time. Hopefully by that time all will be much more clear to everyone, even myself.