Does your church have a plan for cancelling a service?

GO3838

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Now, when it comes to social media, I can't always tell when someone is being serious or facetious.

So, mgagnonlv, I'm going to answer your question seriously. (And if you were just being facetious, then please excuse my lack of finesse
with inferring attitudes on social media.)

Suppose that there is a committee of 3 who decide if the service will be cancelled, and one is the minister of that church.
So now it's Saturday night, and it's snowing, and 40 cm of snow is forecast. Sunday morning comes, and there's 45 cm of snow, and the plows are only just going out.The trio text each other, and cancel the service and get the message out.
Next week on Sunday morning, after the service, people are having coffee hour. The congregation heckler (and let's face it: every church has at least one) says "Of course Rev ___________ voted to cancel last week's service. He/she probably didn't have anything prepared!" (Rolling eyes)
So this is what I mean by a conflict of interest. Some church members may accuse (overtly or surreptitiously) the minister of cancelling a service to cover that they were shirking their duties. If the minister is not a member of the committee that decides to cancel, then they are not in a position to be accused of that.
Many ministers do not vote on church committees for the same reason. The minister attends the worship committee, or session, or parish council, (whatever terms you're used to,) and participates, and offers advice and expertise, but doesn't vote on policy. Because they don't want to put themselves in a position where the congregation might perceive them as voting for their own interests.

And, of course, as there are lazy people in every profession, there are some lazy ministers out there, too. So not putting such a person on a committee to cancel services ensures that said minister is not likely to fall into temptation and cancel for the wrong reasons.
 

BetteTheRed

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That whole house of cards falls apart in the face of the reality that no minister, or even experienced lay leader I've ever met couldn't yack on, on the spot, for 10-15 minutes, on pretty well any text. Whether you'd like it is another matter, altogether.

Never once came across a minister who looked at the weather report, and decided to cancel their total sermon prep in favour of weather person prediction.
 

GO3838

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Not sure that I've met one either, BetteTheRed, who's actually done what's in my hypothetical scenario.

It's just a hypothetical scenario to attempt to explain why having the minister make the decision to cancel the service could be a conflict of interest.
 

Luce NDs

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Be prepared for anything ... the consequence of a fractal god ... light splintering ...
 

Mendalla

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If the minister is not a member of the committee that decides to cancel, then they are not in a position to be accused of that.
OTOH, if the minister is one of the ones at risk due to the inclement weather (e.g. many of the local UU fellowship's interim ministers, and the current contract minister, have commuted from places like Waterloo), then I think they legitimately have to have a say in what happens.
 

Tabitha

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I wonder why the church feels the need to inform members/attenders of bad roads. Surely these are competent adults and can decide for themselves if it is risky driving that day.
 

Redbaron

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In early January, 1998, I was in eastern Ontario. An ice storm of the century knocked out power, closed roads, basically shut down the entire region for several days, including a Sunday. We did manage to call an operational radio station on Saturday evening, to announce services at ______________ United Church were cancelled for that Sunday morning. Still, there was one dear old saint, bound and determined she was going to church that morning. No power and three inches of ice on the road weren't going to stop HER! Her kids just barely restrained her from going.
 

GO3838

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OTOH, if the minister is one of the ones at risk due to the inclement weather (e.g. many of the local UU fellowship's interim ministers, and the current contract minister, have commuted from places like Waterloo), then I think they legitimately have to have a say in what happens
Yes, but the minister should have the right to declare that they cannot safely get to the church (as an independent decision from cancelling the service.) If the minister lives far away, and cannot commute to the church that day, then they should be able to inform ministry and personnel that they cannot get safely to the church. Then the cancelling committee can decide if they will go ahead with worship without minister, or whether roads are unsafe for all, and best to cancel service.
 

Mendalla

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Yes, but the minister should have the right to declare that they cannot safely get to the church (as an independent decision from cancelling the service.) If the minister lives far away, and cannot commute to the church that day, then they should be able to inform ministry and personnel that they cannot get safely to the church. Then the cancelling committee can decide if they will go ahead with worship without minister, or whether roads are unsafe for all, and best to cancel service.
I would say it depends on the nature of the ministry. A part-time, contract minister like the UU fellowship presently uses, I would agree with you. They are basically more of a consultant than a staff person, most Sundays aren't their responsibility, so their input isn't really needed. But a full-time, settled minister generally has responsibility for the pulpit with the worship committee as support and should, I would argue, be part of the decision.
 

GO3838

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But a full-time, settled minister generally has responsibility for the pulpit with the worship committee as support and should, I would argue, be part of the decision.
I don't disagree with that either. That gets back to my whole point that a church needs a plan about this.
And if worship committee and/or ministry and personnel committee come to consensus with minister that minister needs to vote on cancellation of service, then that's all good.
 

mgagnonlv

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So, mgagnonlv, I'm going to answer your question seriously.

Suppose that there is a committee of 3 who decide if the service will be cancelled, and one is the minister of that church. So now it's Saturday night, and it's snowing, and 40 cm of snow is forecast. Sunday morning comes, and there's 45 cm of snow, and the plows are only just going out.The trio text each other, and cancel the service and get the message out.
Next week on Sunday morning, after the service, people are having coffee hour. The congregation heckler (and let's face it: every church has at least one) says "Of course Rev ___________ voted to cancel last week's service. He/she probably didn't have anything prepared!" (Rolling eyes)
So this is what I mean by a conflict of interest. ...
I see your point. I must say that in my 30 or so years in the Anglican Church, that's the only complaint I never heard. I have heard people complaining that X should go to bed earlier or party less on Saturday night, or should spend more time to prepare sermons, etc. It might become an issue if 4-5 services a year are cancelled, but when we cancel less than one service per year due to the weather, it doesn't give much leverage for such complaints.

That's why, according to my experience, it's easy to do a service if we have less (or no) greeters, choir members, organist, acolytes, etc., but it's much harder to run a service when the main officiant or preacher can't come because of weather (or sickness).

Now that I read your reply, there are two situations where there could be a conflict of interest and hence the need for a larger decision committee:
  • for a megachurch (200 +) with lots of hired help, where you need other paid specialists for church school, security, janitorial tasks,
  • for a church that uses rented space such as a school or public building where multiple people need to be present.
My parish is not that large, far from that!
 

Luce NDs

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Be prepared for the bleakest condition in the darker houses --- Scout in the novel about Atticus Finch (flighty)!
 

Tabitha

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We actually close our church for reasons other than weather. We shut and rented a bus for sunday worship in nearby city when General Council was there, we shut and joined an outside service with Gary Patterson (and mr and mrs Seeler), we shut for Presbytery and Conference services. As well we participate with other mainline congregations and have joint services 2 or 3 times a year.
We announce it several weeks in advance in our bulletin-hard copy available at church plus e-mail.
We post it on website and facebook and we put a sign on the door.
 

GO3838

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We've done that too, Tabitha.
We have an annual church picnic with worship at a waterfront camp, and we've closed our doors to worship other places on occasion ( we once went as a congregation to hear a member of our congregation preach at another church.)
But those are planned weeks in advance, with notices in the bulletin, and rides pre-arranged.

What we need is a plan for having to cancel a service unexpectedly (which is most often due to weather,) and
a plan to get the information out as efficiently as possible.
 

Seeler

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We actually close our church for reasons other than weather. We shut and rented a bus for sunday worship in nearby city when General Council was there, we shut and joined an outside service with Gary Patterson (and mr and mrs Seeler), we shut for Presbytery and Conference services. As well we participate with other mainline congregations and have joint services 2 or 3 times a year.
We announce it several weeks in advance in our bulletin-hard copy available at church plus e-mail.
We post it on website and facebook and we put a sign on the door.
It was one of the highlights of our trip to BC and our visitwith Tabitha.
 

ninjafaery

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I hesitate to jump in here since I'm not a regular parishioner anywhere, but I think I might find it helpful if the bad weather policy was announced early in the winter season and reinforced everywhere weekly.
This could be social media, church bulletins, at the ends of sermons etc...that way people could anticipate a cancellation and confirm it.
Of course, not everyone will get the memo...
My apologies for the interruption or any naivety on my part.
 

Tabitha

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Actually we have never cancelled for weather or roads. No schools cancelled either since I arrived in 2011. Our winters are mild.
 

GO3838

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I hesitate to jump in here since I'm not a regular parishioner anywhere, but I think I might find it helpful if the bad weather policy was announced early in the winter season and reinforced everywhere weekly.
In the first place, Ninjafeary, I welcome sincere input from anyone on any thread I post. (whether a regular church goer or not.)

In the second place, you anticipate exactly where I want my church to go with this: develop a policy ahead of time and spread the word,
so the congregation can anticipate what to do and where to look for information in the event of inclement weather.
 
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