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The Gift of Administration

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Though it may not be listed in Paul’s letter, administration – the ability to manage the temporal affairs of the church enabling the clergy to meet its spiritual needs – is a gift! Just ask those who have had to manage parish or outreach ministries without the benefit of an administrative assistant.

Who shares this gift? Many of us are church secretaries – regardless of our position title or what it says in our job description. We answer the phone, we publish the weekly bulletin and we keep the clergy from drowning in paperwork. Many more are volunteers – elders, wardens, board or committee members – we look after finances, buildings and programs. Our work may be seen as “of the world”, but it is an important ministry because of the support we provide to the clergy and, therefore, the congregation.

With 20 years’ experience and a couple of business degrees, I took on my current position as a stop gap measure – between jobs for me and between secretaries for the parish; three years later, I’m still here, still learning and still discovering how broad and complex is the work of parish administration. Even with churchwardens, an advisory board, a raft of committees and a “church secretary,” I can’t imagine being the rector of a parish and having to look after the administration as well as the spiritual and pastoral aspects of the community

When I discovered The Community website, I suggested that there be a forum for administration and, in response, I was asked to be the moderator. Be careful what you wish for!

Our parish is almost 200 years old and there are days when I feel like the administrative policies and procedures are also two centuries old in spite of our very current technology. Each time I start working on a new way of doing things – whether it’s a simple form or a complex new procedure – I feel like I’m reinventing the wheel. Surely these things exist elsewhere! In some cases I’ve been able to draw upon my experience with other organizations but often work in churchland is just different enough to require some reinvention. My hope for this topic area is to connect those of us who work in parish administration – whether we are paid or volunteer – so that we can share our resources, our “inventions,” our joys and our frustrations – our gifts.

So, what would you like to know? What do you have to share? Where do we go from here? Click here to continue the discussion!

About Catherine_Bryant

I am the parish administrator at St. John’s York Mills in Toronto. SJYM has been my home parish since I moved to Toronto in my teens. I even met my husband in the drama program! After many years managing marketing and communications in a variety of non-profit organizations, I’m enjoying the many differences and similarities of this new challenge.
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