Pulpit Or Picket? Michael Duduit May 1, 2005 What happens if preachers go out on strike? That’s a question some churches in Canada may have to answer if a group of pastors is successful in unionizing the 4,000 ministers in the United Church of Canada, that nation’s largest Protestant denomination. According to David Galston of Hamilton, Ontario, one of the major problems requiring unionization is “clergy abuse.” That abuse, he says, includes “bullying, slander, stalking, harassment, and entering the minister’s residence without permission,” according to a Nov. 9, 2004 report in The Washington Times. (I never realized that was abuse. I just thought that was another day at the office in my first church.) According to another news story (a Nov. 12 story on the CTV.ca website), “A study by the United Church indicated that 60 per cent of ministers experienced high levels of conflict with their congregations. Eighty per cent felt they have no peer support.” As a result of all this abuse, some 30 pastors have turned to the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union in an effort to create the first union for clergy in North America. According to CAW President Buzz Hargrove, “The group is unique . . . but the problems are similar to those in many workplaces.” OK, in that they also get papercuts and mess up things on their computers, that’s probably the case, but I’m not sure how far you can carry this. And why the auto workers union? I know we’re both trying to create something that will move, but it seems like there would be some better choices. Why not the teacher’s union – isn’t teaching part of our calling? Or the postal workers union, since we’re both in the delivery busness? Perhaps Actors’ Equity would be the right fit, since most preachers have a bit of ham in them. Then again, the Communications Workers of America seems like an obvious fit, doesn’t it? Then there’s the Laborers’ International Union of North America – isn’t the laborer worthy of his hire? Of course, there’s also the Service Employees International Union – we are servants of the Word, are we not? I could even see us in the United Farm Workers of America, since we are out in the fields sowing seed. And the Writers Guild seems an obvious choice, doesn’t it. I must admit, however, that my vote will go to the Federation of Professional Athletes – not because it makes particular sense, but because it’s as close as I’ll ever get to being called an athlete. But even after we settle on a union, there’s still a big question: what happens if we preachers go out on strike? I’d be willing to guess that a bunch of deacons would get a silly grin on their faces and plan a Sunday golf outing. Nevertheless, it is certainly something to be considered. I think we’d better consult with the International Federation of Worship Leaders. ___________________________ Michael Duduit is Editor of Preaching magazine and President of American Ministry Resources. You can write to him at email@example.com, or visit his website at www.michaelduduit.com. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.