January 25, 2023
I know a scolding when I see one. Verse 30 “… to supply your lack of service toward me.”
We are so blase’ today about our priests. We think they’re in good shape because they get paid a wage, have the same kind of withholdings that we do, and get social security when they retire.
We rarely – if ever – take into account that they are ‘on call’ 24/7/365. They have to fill their gas tanks just like us in order to make pastoral visits to the home-bound and ill and visit those who are in the hospital. Most vestments need to be dry cleaned. There are a thousand and one little expenses that they take care of out of their own pockets.
My first term as a vestry member, I discovered that our priest hadn’t had a raise in six years. Six years! He was still paid what was offered to him when he answered our call. I was shocked! Who works for a ‘company’ for six years without a raise??? Behind the scenes, I met with our Senior Warden and our Treasurer and got things going. Our treasurer – the magic math man – did some research and figuring and shifting about of our resources and we were able to increase his pay by $2000 a year. That’s not much per pay period but it did something more important – it recognized all the work he did for the congregation. A pat on the back is a nice thing but a little extra cash in a pay check is a reminder of the appreciation we have for all that they do and give.
Too many believe that a priest should live in poverty as our Lord did. They haven’t thought it through. Jesus didn’t live in poverty – remember the garment the Roman Legionnaires threw lots for because it was made in a single piece and a costly garment for those times. The followers of Jesus, those thousands being fed and healed and exorcized contributed to the care and feeding of Jesus and the Disciples. Wasn’t Judas keeper of the purse? Where do you think the money in the pure came from? The followers of Christ.
Which brings me to the Annual Meeting of your church. Few people attend, usually. But it’s important that all the congregation attend. The Treasurer, the Wardens, the priest all give reports on their particular parts of the whole of the church and it’s in those reports that we can find where the church can use some help, where some adjustments can be made to make the running of the physical church better and smoother. We get to ask questions and get answers. And it’s where we get to find out if our priests haven’t had a raise in six years. Or 10.
Your home is the ‘company’ your family maintains in good order. Your church is the ‘company’ you help maintain in good order. But you can’t know what’s right or wrong if you don’t go to the Annual Meeting.