Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clergy, or not?

So, am I clergy, or am I not clergy? I have been trying to figure out this question for some time now. Once I started seminary I kind of felt like I was headed down the path to becoming clergy. What did that mean? For me, a rather introverted engineer, it meant I was finally claiming the name Christian for myself in a very public way. It meant that I was willing to consider myself a representative of the United Methodist Church, although I disagreed (and still disagree) with some of the policies of that church. When I had to wear a clergy collar as a chaplain intern at a Presbyterian nursing home/continuing care facility, it felt right.

Then we moved to Big Midwest City from Biggest Midwest City, and I became more of a mom than a pastor for a while, especially after I graduated from seminary. Then I became a youth ministry coordinator, and the senior pastor treated me more like an associate pastor, having me assist with communions and baptisms, leading worship several times a year. It felt good and right.

Then, a new senior pastor who told me at our first meeting that I was a layperson. She was right. I went back to sitting in the pew every Sunday. That didn't feel right. So I rooted around and WisePastor asked me to take over the Saturday night service at BigChurch in Medium CIty and boom - I was clergy again, in voice but not in name. I was reminded once a month when I had to find an elder to do communion that I was not ordained.

Now, I am a licensed local pastor, so within the walls of this church, I am clergy - I can marry, bury, and perform the sacraments. But outside these walls, I am still a layperson. So when I went to get a badge for the hospital, they asked "are you ordained?" - the answer is no. Do you want the title Rev. on your badge? No, I am not the reverend MumPastor. Yet.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the district office sends me mail to the church addressed to Rev. MumPastor.

So, am I clergy or lay? Does it really matter? I have the work of God to do, and I am thankful. Confused. But thankful.


the reverend mommy said...

Sounds like you are UMC?

If so, I consider all LPs clergy, even if they don't want to be. You marry, bury, consecrate and baptize. It's sorta like being clergy with training wheels.

the reverend mommy said...

Reading it again. It is completely and utterly proper to be "Rev." It may not be completely comfortable -- I squirmed the first time my DS called me "Reverend" -- but if he did, then I'm one.

The Local Pastor has a difficult place in the UMC. In some conferences there are 3 times the amount of LPs than elders. In those conferences, the LPs hold quite a bit of honor. In other conferences, not so much.

I was hoping at GC they would have helped define the role of the LP, but it seems there were other things on their minds...

MumPastor said...

Hello The Rev. Mommy,
Love your handle :)

Thanks for your comments. Yes, I am clergy, in a way, but since I haven't had a bishop lay hands on me, I don't consider myself ordained. The Rev. part seems to be part of the ordained part, at least the way I understand it. I am still working this out, along with the rest of the denomination. I guess I consider full ordination to be a goal of mine, so I am holding off on doing some things, like wearing a stole and calling myself the Rev., until I get there. But others have different viewpoints, and that is just fine with me! Thanks for your comments. I'll go check out your blog now!