Here I repeat my response to George’s “joke” about my 40 years, and more, as a minister of the United Church of Canada—which, BTW, like marriage can go on ‘til death do us part.
To George I said, jokingly:
A little humour there, very little. And the pay was much better than that made by welfare-dependant comedians who have no idea how to be funny.
Now, DarronS and George: Thanks for the following interesting questions.
Actually, it is a relevant question. Were you standing behind pulpit telling people about god?
Telling people about god? And what god did you have in mind? It is much more complex than that.
Preaching, teaching, pastoring and helping with the healing of broken families and the broken hearts of individuals involves a lot of thinking, writing, listening, administration of church office—clergy assistants, two secretaries, other staff and volunteers.
ABOUT WRITING, RADIO AND TV WORK
Though I could always speak off the cuff (and still can), when I wanted to, or needed to, I usually wrote out the basic details of most of my sermons. Many of them are still on file. It is interesting, now and then, to go back and check out how my thinking has changed over the decades—for the better, I hope.
For years, I wrote a weekly column for a North Toronto Paper. I got lots of letters, including several major articles, published in the major Toronto papers. Several articles were written about the work of the FAMILY LIFE FOUNDATION (the FLF is active and growing)—a registered charity I initiated in 1973. Its purpose then was, and still is, to be a non-sectarian outreach of all churches. At the time I started the FLF, it operated out of Willowdale United Church (WUC)—of which I was the minister from 1966 to 1994—to serve the public good. http://www.willowdaleunited.com/
The United Church of Canada is totally inclusive of all races and religions. It also welcomes moral secularists. Sure we have our share of hypocrites, but that’s life!
As the minister of WUC, I had to answer to lay leaders appointed, by The Board, to help the staff—I mean the ministers, the music director, the organist, the two secretaries and the building staff—work together.
The staff came under the following boards, elected by the congregation (then about 800 families): There were the elders (that is, lay ministers—male and female), the stewards, trustees—oversight of finances and care of property, All were appointed by the members of the whole congregation at the annual meeting. As a congregation, we came under the local, provincial and federal (The General Council of the Church) church authorities.
Me now? I can still think of myself as, a minister. The word comes from the Latin and literally means a servant. It can be applied to a person given charge of a church as its spiritual guide—preaching (talking with, not just at) and teaching, regularly.
As a pastor (think doctor without drugs or a scalpel )—I did visiting therapy, talking therapy, counselling in my office, pneumatherapy (like psychotherapy) and the like. Fortunately, I have a background in philosophy/psychology and a way with words.
Interestingly, minister is a term that can also be applied to a person given charge of a department of the government—at home or abroad.
Were you a self-help guru telling them how to make profits using other people’s money?
Using the word pneumatology (the mother of psychology) I gave a regular series of talks—locally and elsewhere, including the USA and England—designed to help people help themselves.
In doing so, I always invited people interested in being of service to the public good, trained in the healing arts, including medical doctors, to be involved with the FLF. But I never thought of myself as a “guru”, in the media sense of the word. Many of the people who came to the talks also requested personal counselling. I still get calls.
How did you make a living talking to people?
It took a lot of work—and not just 8 hours a day. And, by the way, unlike teachers (my wife was one, now retired) or the police, I could not depend on the taxpayer, or even church headquarters, to pay my regulated and modest salary (much less than a school principal).
My salary came from the free-will offerings of the people who came to my church. If I failed to attract enough people to come to church and support my ministry, I lost my position in that particular church. Many ministers have failed to be financially successful, as ministers, and have left in despair and had to go on to other things. More than one of my friends have had to do so. Sadly, they discovered: There is no magic Lord, or any other superhero, who provides.
Early on I learned: If material success was to be it was up to me, and my wife. Fortunately, 60 years ago, this September, I married a teacher. She went back to work, when our children were of age for her to do so. Now, her pension and mine is helping our children—who, as artists, still need our help—and three grandchildren (two in university now, and one ready next year). We are also one of the main supporters of the charity work of the Family Life Foundation—lots of good stories there. Just recently we helped a couple avoid being evicted. Quite a story.
Readers. Now, how about you answering the same questions that have been put to me, eh?