I just got a mailing from the Newly established Office of Vocation in the Untied Corp of Canada (AKA The “United” “Church” of Canada, or “the organisation formerly known as Church”) describing its formation, structure and responsibilities. Even before reading it, I knew that it has one duty that must come before all others. It’s got to find a better name.
We can’t keep calling it the Office of Vocation, because Vocation means ‘calling’ and requires that the persons under their supervision are called by God
to ordained, commissioned or otherwise authorized ministry. As long as this national body knowingly allows one or more atheists to continue in the teaching offices of the church, the term “Vocation” is too narrow. I’d suggest “Office of Paid Accountable Ministry” except that Ministry is from the Latin for service, and certainly implies service of God. (Except in government, where it rarely carries that connotation. Hmm.) The terms “Ordained” and “Commissioned” need to go as well, since they mean, respectively, set apart for and by God or sent for and by God. So an honest name for the department might be “The Office of Supervision of those Persons under our Supervision.” It doesn’t really soar, but it works, even if, because of excessive assessments and members leaving for churches that think believing in God is important, congregations end up relying entirely on volunteers rather than “Paid Accountable
Or, on the other hand, Job One of the Office of Vocations could be to reverse the decision of their predecessor organisation, Toronto Conference. If the Office of Vocation were to assert the fundamental necessity of faith in God, as one of the essential points of agreement with the “Church’s” Basis of Union, and place declared atheists on the Discontinued Service List (“Defrock” them) then we could dispense with all this renaming nonsense, and get on with being Christ’s Church. Not only that, I ask this as a personal favour, so I can stop using so many quotation marks in my writing.
Addendum: The first communication I got from the Office of Vocation was a strange email.
Subject line: Merry Christmas
At first, of course, I thought the Office was politely inquiring whether “Merry Christmas” was an appropriate wish for me, since as an ordained minister of an ostensibly Christian “Church”, I might prefer a religiously neutral and atheist friendly “Seasons Greeting.”
I acknowledged receipt of the email, and was pleased to learn that it was just a 1980’s “Send to all” email training mistake, not a survey of Clerical attitudes to the celebration of God’s incarnation. So:
Merry Christmas to you, Office of Supervision of Beings Under our Supervision, Merry Christmas indeed!
Someone Bless us, everyone!