This year’s Clergy Conference brought together our clergy for a time of reflection, exhortation, and restoration. All three days were set aside for them to meet with Bishop Bill, hear from one another, and hear from the Canons of our diocese, particularly The Rev. Canons Alex Cameron and Susan Skillen, who conducted several sessions. The conference’s main theme was finding healing, restoration, and help as ministers of the Gospel. The three-day conference brought this theme home through their teachings, in discussions, and in ministry. Clergy could talk about their burdens and respond to exhortations to live up to the high moral calling of the Gospel.
In all churches and denominations, clergy have struggled with their integrity and morality, especially considering the high standards of their calling. In Christian leadership it becomes even harder to get help during struggles than it does for others in the Church, and shame can be crippling. Our clergy were given resources to reach out for help when in struggle, and they were encouraged to live transparent lives with others to maintain their integrity and character, not only for those they shepherd but for the sake of their own souls.
The bulk of the teaching, discussion, and prayer time came during the first two days. Thursday night’s session by Canon Alex was entitled, “Moral Effort and the Higher Calling” and touched upon the main themes of integrity in Holy Orders. The second day focused on the dangers of remaining an independent and isolated minister and the need for the Church’s support and discipline. Canons Alex and Susan both taught on relationship boundaries for those in ministry, and Canon Ross Kimball explained the Diocesan processes for clergy discipline according to our canon law.
The power of the world’s sources of satisfaction and pleasure is growing and making purity more difficult as the years go by. People are crafting their own vision of morality and claim their identities apart from God, giving in to money, sex, and power, and making individual paths to worldly success. Our lives must be radically different and become a light shining in the darkness, especially applicable to those who are at the forefront of the mission. Our clergy were reminded of this again during Saturday morning’s Holy Eucharist service, with their renewal of Ordination vows. Please keep our clergy in your prayers as they continue to pursue their ministries with integrity and holiness.