General Convention 2006

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, and I will praise you . . . Psalm 43:3-4

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
met in Columbus, Ohio from June 11-21, 2006.
This blog offers a view of the convention and beyond from the perspective of Lydia Evans, a two-time lay deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Visit the links found below for additional resources
as well as pre- and post-convention coverage.
Thank you for remembering the convention deputies and their families in your prayers. For further resources, visit my webpages.
For all posts from the month of June, click here.
For all posts from the month of July, click here.

6.26.2006

Psyched for Ministry

An interesting read, especially considering some of the stories the Commission on Ministry hears about "the process" in more liberal dioceses.

"The call to Christian ministry came in my mid-20s. At that time, I was living in Tennessee and had been taking classes for personal enrichment at Sewanee School of Theology. I was also leading mission trips to support an orphanage and seminary begun by Anglican Sudanese in a refugee camp in northern Uganda. I found that I had a natural inclination toward preaching and pastoral care."

"So I began an official discernment process with my Episcopal Church in Sewanee. Shortly afterward, my husband and I were obliged to move to New Jersey, where I had my first taste of the paralyzing red tape that governs Episcopal polity. Because I had not officially become a candidate in the discernment process in Tennessee, I was compelled to begin the process all over again, at square one, this time in a new diocese."

"Undaunted, I complied. After all, I still had all of the idealism and high hopes of one who has discovered her passion and vocation in life, and I was chomping at the bit to serve God and God's church. The only thing that was standing in the way, it turned out, was . . . God's church. But I had no idea just what I was in for."

"I remember clearly that first visit to headquarters. With a plastic smile, the smartly dressed "canon for ministry development" (canon is a fancy term for the bishop's right-hand person) described a Byzantine system of hurdles designed to weed out the undesirables and make absolutely sure that ordination is the right path. Then she uttered the lines she undoubtedly repeated to every bright-eyed and bushy-tailed candidate: "Trust the process."

"A big part of that process was psychotherapy. Lots of it. The diocese had recommended one to three years of therapy to nearly half of the candidates who had come forward in the past year. Their calls were put on hold until the psychological evaluations came in. Only then would the diocese decide whether a candidate was truly intended for ordained ministry, or if he or she would be better off selling real estate."

"One full year after that first visit, I faced the next challenge in the ordination obstacle course: the dreaded psychological exam. This consisted of a breathtakingly immense packet of assessments, ranging from the standard Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (intended to weed out psychotic killers and child molesters) to a questionnaire asking for spontaneous word associations. Once completed, these forms were dissected and analyzed over two days on a couch with a shrink, who then wrote a report detailing my psychological profile and her recommendations."

"I considered myself a fairly normal person, but when, early one morning, I received a call from the psychologist, I got a little scared. In urgent, staccato tones, she informed me that I had left so many questions blank that the test would be difficult to score. I nervously explained that I did not know that I had left that many questions blank, and that I had not known how to answer particular questions, such as "Do you like to flirt?" with either a yes or no. (The test did not allow "maybe" answers.) Over the phone, we reviewed the unanswered questions and I obediently filled in the blanks with ayes and nays. When the test results came back, I had scored well within the "normal" range on the MMPI, meaning I got the all clear on diagnosable manias and phobias. What a relief!"

"The fact that I had grown up in an evangelical missionary home, with a strong father who was conservative about sexual mores, presented other problems. When asked to describe my earliest childhood memory, I had recalled the time my father read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit to my brother and me, and we then played a game of "Captain Hook," with my father pretending to be Captain Hook in search of small victims to be tickled. This tidbit of information elicited an exclamation from the shrink, as if, in mining the deep recesses of my subconscious, she had finally seized upon the prized nugget of gold."

"That's fascinating!" she mused, taking off her horn-rimmed glasses. "The hobbit is a small, marginalized creature trying to assert himself, and Captain Hook is a strong, patriarchal and oppressive figure." Somehow, in the innocent retelling of a childhood memory, I had succeeded in painting my father as an ogre whose oppressive regime I had tried to overthrow."

Read the rest of the story.

1 Comments:

Blogger Allen Lewis said...

... the church runs the risk of becoming little more than a therapeutic support group, forsaking its one defining mark, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A succinct diagnosis of TEC and the reason why it is fading fast.

5:08 PM  

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