First, a word of gratitude to the dozens of you who have already completed the congregational survey prepared by the Mission Study Team! We haven’t had time to process the info yet, but I know from experience that the thoughts you’ve shared will be vital and valuable in our effort to answer the first transition question, What kind of church are we and what do we hope to become? The team is galloping down the path on the way to answering that question.
Another topic of conversation has arisen of late in light of the departure of two long-term employees. Churches often collect a gift purse for such employees as they leave their positions. Third Church has done this for departing program staff in the past. However, we have elected not to do so for the last three occasions of a staff departure. Our thinking revolves around several issues, the most significant of which is the issue of equal treatment for all employees. One class of employees seems to receive official preferential treatment over against another when it comes to gift purses. Third Church has a proud history of attempting to be equal and fair in all its efforts. So what should be done for one should be done for all. Or for none. The Personnel Committee is prepared to bring a policy to that effect to the Session for approval, because I believe that Session is the place where the issue should be handled.
Our recommendation is that Third Church will not collect a gift purse for anyone. We will consider on a case-by-case basis whether some other sort of recognition for departing staff is in order. But no gift purse. We WILL endeavor to ask questions about the fairness of the pay and benefits we offer to all of our employees. In the case of Cindy Mark and John Pilato, no official process of raising a gift purse was undertaken. The Personnel Committee did choose to honor them in another manner, just the same.
Additionally, we expect that members of the congregation will treat the church directory (in Elexio Community) as a tool to connect with each other around church matters, and not as a mailing list for any kind of solicitation. We pride ourselves in maintaining privacy for our members and friends. Staff has received some complaints of late concerning the apparent unauthorized use of church email lists. We hope that our in-house information will not be misused in this way.
Not the usual light-hearted or thoughtful (I hope) words you usually find in this column. I do hope that they offer some clarification on what we are thinking in a possibly-divisive area in church life. Heaven knows we don’t need more of that. Back to my usual subject matter next week. I hope.
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