Thursday, December 29, 2011

Communication

In the January 1, 2012 bulletin there's an unsigned article about new changes coming from our pastoral council. In an effort to improve communications with parishioners, council members will begin wearing name tags, will hold "periodic input sessions" open to parishioners, and allow parishioners to observe and comment at council meetings "during the open portion of the meeting."
Then there's the kicker:

"At times, when the subject matter is sensitive or potentially controversial, the Council’s advice is best given in a closed meeting so that members can give the most honest and candid advice without fear of being vilified or ridiculed, or having their input misquoted out of context or passed to other parish members inaccurately or prematurely."

Video taping the meetings and having them available on the new website would solve some of the problems, unlike statements like above that raise more questions than they answer. What in the world could be so sensitive or controversial that it can't be said in the light of day? This seems like a way of actually keeping council members separated from the parishioners. Council members are supposed to represent parishioners, right? What they have to say and advise should reflect the desires and intentions of those they represent, right?

So, on the one hand, these honest and good people are going to be wearing name tags so we can identify them, speak with them and finally be heard. On the other hand, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of decisions that affect the whole parish, they aren't allowed to speak freely, but must do it in closed session.

Something isn't right.

14 comments:

  1. "so that members can give the most honest and candid advice without fear of being vilified or ridiculed"

    good golly! If council members are so afraid of this, then resign and find someone with thicker skin to take your place.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ben, I'm not sure what the problem is as far as these council meetings. In his thesis, Deacon Dean writes about threats to our parish. "Gossip, especially in this small town environment, is a huge threat that will require effective communication to counteract."

    I don't see how closed parish council meetings are a help to effective communication. They really have the opposite effect at this point, especially because trust has been destroyed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. They don't make the policy or decisions do they? So they should not be worried about anything right?

    ReplyDelete
  4. If the councils and committees have no power to make decisions then it m;ust be someone else who does not want publicity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A step in the right direction, but not far enough. The "controversial" issues are the reason parishioners want to attend meetings, but they still won't be allowed to stay for that portion of the meeting.

    Also, the finance committee and facilities committee should have open meetings. These groups seem to be the ones discussing the critical issues and passing their recommendations to the parish council.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Both sides are wrong. On one hand, maybe council members fear what they say will be twisted. On the other hand, if council members were confident that their discussion is always on the up and up, then there is no reason to fear open discussion of a controversial issue.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good point, Susan.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I understand that some people want to remain anonymous with their advice/opinions. Why doesn't whoever wrote this article just ask council members in private what their opinions are? I think it was stupid the way they announced they are having closed meetings.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wrote the post, Anonymous 8:26. You have raised a valid point. However, in the past, council and committee members have been bound to secrecy. The continuance of closed portions of council meetings is more of the same.

    Beginning this Sunday our council members will be wearing name tags, so I suggest that parishioners respectfully ask them what is being discussed in closed meetings. How are they going to get feedback and represent parishioners in these meetings when they can't discuss issues openly?
    According to the Diocese’s guidelines, “The goal of the parish pastoral council is not simply to serve the members of the parish, but to develop a common vision and purpose, actively advocate for the poor and the powerless, and extend Christian commitment to the surrounding neighborhoods and communities…In fostering communication, the council encourages and initiates dialogue among parish leadership and organizations and brings to the council concerns of the larger Church. The council, likewise, can be a means to inform the bishop of parish needs and directions.”

    Here is the link for the full guidelines: DOR parish pastoral guidelines:http://www.dor.org/tasks/sites/home/assets/File/planning/Parish%20Pastoral%20Council%20May%202000.pdf

    In the past, the claim by leadership is often of "overwhelming" parish support for what has been decided in secret. The January 8 meeting at 1 p.m. in the All Saints Academy gym is coming up. Perhaps there will be a change in direction regarding communication and a true desire for unity.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, with all the meetings and the apparent and maybe unintentional lack of real honest communication and transparancy from the administration and then passed onto the council, maybe just maybe some of the council members will take seriously the duty they commit themselves to and seek more open discussion for any attendees at council meetings, more challenge to the leadership/administration of what really is serious enough for closed meetings, and have the courage if need be to inform the bishop of needs not being met here, like open communication. I have served on three parish councils in the past and the only time closed meetings were in order was for personnel and salary matters. What's with the fear of misinterpretation....is corrections of info not another way to provide communication?
    I ask, who really is running the parish,the appointed administrator or the people he fears will misinterpret him? WOW

    ReplyDelete
  11. Gretchen, how do you find a copy of the parish bulletin since the new parish web page has not been updated in weeks and the bulletin is not available. Wonder what good it does to advertise a new web page and yet it does not fulfill the all important and priority of ASP....communication. thanks for any info on my search.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good points Gretchen and 10:48. Even if you do go and talk to the council members in private, they probably still will be hesitant to give information. Open communication seems like the only way.

    If council members fear repercussion of leadership, parishioner twisting or ridicule because of their opinions/advice, they should not be council members. Council members and leadership should be willing to be held accountable for what they say and be able to defend it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I went to the parish website and the bulletins are all updated.

    You can also access them at www.seekandfind.com. Click on "Find a Church" in the blue navigation bar, and then click on State of New York on the map, and you will find a listing of parishes. Corning is listed. When you click on All Saints Parish, scroll down to find the bulletins. They are usually available on Wednesdays.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Here is the link: http://seekandfind.com/directory/all-saints-church_3443.html

    Also, a couple of us attended the Sept Parish Council meeting. We tried to find out what topics qualified as "closed meeting" topics, such as personnel matters. The council responded that they don't discuss personnel or financial matters. The answer we received was basically what is in the bulletin article. In addition, they said that sometimes they are discussing issues for the first time and don't have all necessary information yet.

    ReplyDelete