Re: Workers of the spiritual world unite, Nov. 7, 2004

K. D. ‘Casey’ McKibbon, Letter to the Editor
Ottawa Citizen 14 November 2004

I am afraid clergy suffering stress, isolation, privacy, family breakdown and finances will be greeted by many (Ottawa) Citizen readers with a giant yawn. Welcome to the real world, they will say.

As negative an impact as these factors have on the clergy, they are not the primary reason that clergy need a union. However important, these factors are the serious symptoms of a deeper problem that cannot be solved by a paternalistic institution like the United Church.

Clergy need a union for those terrible times they feel they are being treated unfairly, yes abused, and the larger church will not hear them, much less come to their aid. A union could get the church’s attention and help clarify the issues.

Second and most important, clergy need a union to help them gain employee status. As it stands now, clergy are not, in a legal sense, considered employees. Thus, when push comes to shove, they do not have the protection of the various labour codes or human rights legislation.

I have been in court many times when clergy were seeking justice. Time after time the church’s lawyers have come before a judge and said, “Clergy are not employees.”

As a result, the clergy lose the case.

The problem of the abuse of clergy is systemic in the world view of the institution. Only a union has the resources to help the United Church take a new look at itself. When that happens, the United Church that stands for justice in the world will also stand for justice in it’s own household.

By reporting on this matter, the Citizen’s Bob Harvey has shed healing light on the subject, and for that I say thank you.

Casey McKibbon, Metcalfe
The Clergy Support Network