Wednesday, January 04, 2006

my Christmas miracle!

Sorry this is long, but it’s a bit complicated. Here’s the deal:

My Church has a great pension plan for clergy (and lay employees, too!). It’s particularly great if you’re employed by the Church, which I ceased to be when I left my job serving three congregations last summer. Taking the leap of faith to leave that position to start my own business doing creative things also put at risk my ongoing participation in the pension plan. To benefit, clergy have to be engaged in “active” ministry to pay into the plan, and to recoup benefits at the time of retirement. Active ministry is traditionally understood as parish work, school or hospital chaplaincy, or some other typical form of ministry. There IS a provision for us non-traditional folks to be granted what is called an extension of ministry, granted by one’s canonical bishop (the one who oversees the diocese in which I work and am “registered to vote”).

After attending a conference earlier in the fall sponsored by the pension group and revisiting my recent vocational decisions, I decided that I needed to request an extension of ministry from my bishop. I wrote to him in late October making that request, but didn’t expect a positive response since he is fairly traditional in his view of what constitutes ministry. If he said no, it would mean that I would have to relocate to another diocese where I could find a bishop willing to grant the extension. Once granted, the extension is permanent and portable, which means that regardless of where I am, I can move to another diocese and still have my extension. If my own bishop said yes, then it would be feasible to stay in TN. (Reasons for doing that have their own set of complicated circumstances!)

When I returned home from my Christmas visit with my family there was a letter from the bishop among my mail. When I opened it I couldn’t help but notice that it was brief, and I assumed that it contained the anticipated “no.” I almost didn’t read it. Fortunately, I did, because my bishop said YES to the extension! I met with him this afternoon and got his signature on the form that makes this official, which is why I waited to post about this.

This takes such a huge load of concern off my shoulders, I just can’t tell you what a relief I feel. What a wonderful holiday gift, and a blessing from God to encourage and strengthen what I am doing. Anyone want to join me in a loud, “Amen!!!?” I’ll even settle for a “yeeeeehaaaaaaaa!”

Now if only I could get the web site functioning, but I'm working on that!

10 comments:

Pam in Moncton said...

Oh Anne, that must be quite a relief! So now that means you can continue to contribute to the pension plan if I understand you? Good news, definitely! Also have to say I appreciate the trendiness of your poor little doggie, though I think perhaps he would rather be less trendy and go sock-free!
Pam

Gail said...

Hi Anne, that is great news! You are starting a new trend in the ministry. Keep that ball rolling, LOL!
Gail

Ruth said...

Great news Anne, I am so happy that you can continue to follow your dreams. Amen from me.

Anne you made me laugh yesterday when I got home to your Christmas card. Yes I knew who it was from. So adorable and happy 12 days back at you. Such a lovely thing to find in my mail box. Sure beats the usual. Thank you.

madcow said...

What ever it was that caused this sign of compassion from the bishop...I can only thank god, allah, buddah....every dammed one of them! This really is going to be "our" year mark my words! love & hugs Clare

Kip said...

I second what Clare said!!! That IS good news for you Anne and I"m happy for you. Does this mean you'll have the $ now to go down and visit the madcow herself???? It's only a couple years away...maybe sooner, lol!

Lee said...

Congratulations, Anne! :) I'm glad everything worked out. This is a whole new concept to me, as no one in our Church (which has over 12 million members) is paid. They are all volunteers, from the ward bishop (similar to a congregation's pastor) to the head of our Church. I think it's great that you'll be able to keep contributing to your pension.

:) Alisha

Patty said...

AMEN! good for you! maybe fewer sleepless nights!

so happy for you!

Jules said...

Anne darling, what a wonderful thing! Yeah I am sure your load has been lightened with this knowledge.

I am missing you madly. We shall have to plan a cyber crop soon.

tiggerrules said...

What great news Anne! Everything seems just a little bit easier today doesn't it? So glad that this came through for you and you can continue to follow your dreams!
Maria

samtzmom said...

Joy and rapture, joy and rapture! Just one more tid bit that makes this leap of faith the one you were to take my dear. Now you can really dive in to your creative ministry and touch many lives in the process. SO proud of you and FOR you!
Jayne

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