Monday, July 31, 2006

UMC Administrative Question

Y'all have always been good to help me clear up thoughts that clog my mind concerning various and sundry matters of things United Methodist. Here's the latest. I earnestly desire your input, answers, and advice.

I have been suddenly struck with a concern that we United Methodists call our annual meeting of Clergy an "Executive Session." Without getting into whether or not clergy ought to be meeting generally aprt from laity in a presumably democratic, balanced lay-and-clergy church polity (which I think may be well justified on matters of character), I need help understanding this.

We are, presumably a church whose polity bends over nearly backwards to maintain a balance of leadership between laity and clergy. Yet, we call our "clergy-only" session an "executive session." Does not the use of the word "executive" carry the connotation of somehow being a step above or preferred, or higher in a hierarchy?

Just say no to "Executive" Session! Call it "Clergy Session," or tell me why not!


Blogger Lance said...

Not really. Executive does not necessarily entail being at the top of the hierichical chain. "Executive" is that part of a government that executes, or carries out, the law. This is to differentiate it from the legislative, which makes the laws. The writers of the US Constitution actually saw the Legislative branch as being above the executive (hence Congress getting Article 1). In the case of UMC polity, Executive Council is an appropriate name, since it is the pastors who are responsible for carrying out the Church Law that the legislative branch (Annual Conference) enacts.

6:20 AM  
Blogger The Thief said...

Here in West Ohio, we call ours "clergy session"

7:07 PM  
Blogger Matt Kuehl said...

The executive tag bugs me a little because its used in the business world and nobody likes those business terms in the church. I'll also say that sometimes we place too much importance on labels.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous frankm said...

When a City Council, for example, goes into executive session, that meeting is closed to the press and the public. No comment or participation is allowed from persons other than members. Is that not how it is in the clergy sessions? (Not being clergy, I woundn't know.) If so, "executive session" is probably an appropriate name, since the ground rules are quite similar to the secular usage of the term.

BTW, I have only recently discovered your blog, but I do enjoy it. You seem to be a very smart guy and a deep thinker. Thanks for the good posts

8:48 AM  

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