Friday, November 13, 2009

Hard times on Higgins Road (continued)

After dealing with multiple congregations and multiple call committees, I concluded sometime ago that personnel matters provided some of the worst examples of church mismanagement and ineptitude. Apparently that isn’t limited to local congregations. The layoffs at the ELCA headquarters also seem to have been handled with a similar clumsiness and insensitivity.

A mass firing, of course, simply isn’t going to be a pleasant experience. Recognizing that, one might have expected some effort to mitigate the suffering but there is no evidence that occurred here. For some time prior to distribution of the pink slips, there were the usual water cooler stories and rumors. Xanax and sleepless nights were in ample supply.

The main problem, once again, has been lack of transparency. Since no statement has gone out about the layoffs, speculation and paranoia are inevitable. A local synod lay leader here has gotten multiple complaints about discrimination and inequity in the firings, alleging that minority support staff took the brunt of the cuts. I do know that there were veteran white males dismissed. I don’t know, however, what the proportions of the cuts were except that they were across the board. (20% per unit was one figure I heard but I also know of one unit that lost more than a third of its staff members—7 out of 20.)

The staff reduction does not become official until the church council signs off on it and it is meeting this weekend. Still, the outcome is pretty clear and it seems that some kind of communication could have been made at least to the staff, giving an overall picture of what was occurring. Instead, this seems to be another case where, in terms of pastoral care, the church talks a good game but when dealing with its own it fumbles the ball.


Mike said...

I understand why those lutherans who consider themselfs orthodox have stopped giving money to Higgins road. Higgins road people do not support the bibical view of homosexaulity, from the hebrew scripture through Paul in the christian scripture, then we don't need to provide them financial support. If we do, we show that we agree with their position. There have been volumes written on the homosexual topic from a bibical basis. The seminal guidance for me Robert Gangon's essay titled, "What Should Faithful Lutherans in the ELCA Do?
Sept. 30, 2009". I am cutting off my funding -- maybe when higgins road gets hungry they will get the message. IF they are right, that God's love trumps all, then great will their reward be in heaven. If they are wrong, well, then you know...

William said...

As Mike said: "Higgins road people do not support the bibical view of homosexaulity...."

Sorry, Mike. Just as the "Death Panel" quip which was picked up by so many had no relationship to the reality of health insurance reform, placing the focus of the ELCA's decision at the Churchwide office does not reflect the process in which the decision was made.
The process included outside experts from various fields holding differing opinions, study and feedback opportunities, and, in the end, a 2/3 favorable vote of the participants in the Churchwide Assembly. Those persons were not selected by the Churchwide office. Instead,they were elected by the people of their own synods.

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