The first Clergy Day of 2023 took place in the Conference Room of the Synod offices on Wednesday, January 25th. Clergy Days are organized and scheduled throughout the year offering opportunities for diocesan clergy to gather and listen to presentations given by a diverse cohort of speakers on topics that address various aspects of ministry. Clergy Days begin with gathering at 9:30am, worship, and then the programmatic elements get underway at about 10:15am. The day usually but not always concludes between 3 and 3:30pm with an address from Bishop Stephens.
The guest presenters for the January 25th iteration were diocesan Screening in Faith Administrator, Deirdre Thornton, who is one year into this contract position, and Rob Baker a representative of Walmsley, the diocese’s Employee and Family Assistance (EFAP) provider. Deirdre presented at the morning session and Rob in the afternoon. Approximately 40 clergy were in attendance, although due to other commitments not all clergy were able to be present for both sessions.
Ms. Thornton, who is a long-time member of St. Alban the Martyr, Burnaby went through the Screening in Faith process and communicated some new aspects of the program and some upcoming changes. The plenary was engaged by her presentation and there were many questions and comments from the group about the importance of doing everything possible to guarantee the personal safety of parishioners and others who frequent churches. A feature of the morning session was a small group discussion that examined a scenario where a long-time lay volunteer refuses to provide a criminal records check with vulnerable sector check and/or refuses to complete the mandated training.
The afternoon session with Rob Baker titled “Everyday Confrontation” offered some suggestions on how to respond to criticism and how to handle and mitigate certain kinds of conflict, i.e.:
Rob had a number of scenario exercises planned, however, the clergy group were interested in sharing experiences and outcomes which was met with approval by the facilitator. Rob had also provided a detailed document listing The Four Basic Styles of Communication:
The Reverend Stephen Rowe, Rector of ‘Epiphany’, Surrey and Regional Dean of Peace Arch had this to say about the presentations:
“Deirdre’s presentation was stellar; informative, comprehensive and extremely helpful.”
“Many clergy use the pastoral skills of conflict management, but it was useful to be reminded of the appropriate ways to respond to people, and not just those who are in conflict situations.”