Reflections on Clergy Conference

Jotting down a few notes as I sit in a session at Clergy Conference…don’t worry, it’s nothing important — just something about the budget. Here in the Diocese of Massachusetts the annual Clergy Conference takes place on Cape Cod. So before you judge me for blogging during a presentation, please know that I could have blown off the whole thing altogether and gone to take a walk along the beach.

I’ve now been to Clergy Conferences in three dioceses: Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts. While the venues change, there are some similarities. Here are a few reflections, some of which might resonate if you’ve ever participated in one. Feel free to add others to this list.

  1. I don’t mind people Tweeting, e-mailing, updating Facebook, etc. during the various sessions. It’s the people who knit – could you please keep it down?!
  2. I’m always reassured to see that the church really does run on coffee.  I never trust a priest who exclusively drinks mango juice.
  3. Please do not sign up for the talent show if you are neither musically gifted nor amusing.
  4. I look around at these gatherings and think to myself, “Wow, some of these people are my colleagues!” And in the same breath, “Wow, some of these people are my colleagues.”
  5. Priests sure know how to drink.
  6. The best part of worship is that clergy can really belt out the hymns. Unfortunately the selection of the hymns often leaves something to be desired.
  7. I’m glad I’m not a bishop because I’d have to know all of these people’s names. I’m much better at benignly smiling nodding.
  8. Ballroom liturgy always creeps me out a bit.
  9. I’m always amazed at the number of clergy who skip out on Morning and Evening Prayer.
  10. Clergy are excellent bitchers about things diocesan.
  11. I take great pleasure in watching priests sucking up to the bishops.

That’s it for now. It’s almost time for lunch and I have to meet with the affinity group I started titled “Priests who like to complain about bad liturgy.”


9 Comments on “Reflections on Clergy Conference”

  1. Barbara Baxter says:

    Right, Bob — I know several (male) priests who whip out their mini-Oriental rugs (for their doll houses?) during conferences. Perhaps it’s meant to be soothing, but those are the same guys who won’t keep their sniggering to themselves. I know it’s not the needlepoint, because I am a needlepointer, and I never misbehave at clergy gatherings.

  2. Sarah Brockmann says:

    on point number 5: why do you think conference centres like this are so eager to do business with us? GREAT bar tab!
    On point number 9: Seven AM? Seriously? BEFORE coffee?

  3. Rick+ says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m leaving for my own clergy conference Thursday.

  4. Re: points #5 & #10: Please feel free to flog copies of my book, Staying Sober: Tips for Working a Twelve Step Program of Recovery (Hazelden).

    Re:point #8: Be grateful it’s not liturgical dance — with scarves.

    Re: point #9: Please feel free to direct them to @Virtual_Abbey for Morning and Evening Prayer.

    Re: point #11: Sucking? That seems a poor word choice these days when talking about clergy.

  5. Padré Nick Rutter says:

    I have fond memories of the Canon Treasurer at Westminster Abbey who used to bring out a bradawl and repair the gold wire on his cope in the middle of a boring sermon. Added to his resemblance to “the Ancient of Days” keeps me smiling during similar sermons today

  6. Pam Sten says:

    Wondering what your take is on one of your diocesan convention delegates playing Solitaire on his new laptop during convention business … or was it the Bishop’s address? I still can’t decide if it bothered me more or the other delegate (his wife!). Unlike the new Dutchess of Cambridge, he must’ve vowed to “obey” because he only took notes after she reamed him out!

  7. Charlotte says:

    I totally agree with #8. I don’t know why, but it lacks and it *is* creepy.

  8. frcraig says:

    our bishop reccomends a kindle app for Ipads… often wonder what he is looking at.


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