Comments: Methodist minister ruled employee not office holder

Why do Churches treat clergy so badly ? Is it just an organisational thing, incompetence, abuse of power, or what ?

I've noticed great lack of consideration through to abuse.

At least anglicans had parson's freehold now being done away with and no effective protection in its place.

Then it filters down and some people in the pew start calling late etc for no (good) reason, destroying the family life and sanity of ministers and their families.

Parishoner : " I thought I'd ring now as you'd back for your meal" ! -oh Really ?!

Bishop:"You'll have to live in temporary accommodation for a few months, till house is ready" - WHY are vicarages so often not ready in time ? "It won't effect Pamela and your 3 pre-school children / mother with dementia, adversely- I'm sure."

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 28 March 2011 at 4:40pm BST

For the sake of us poor US citizens (I have no idea how this would apply elsewhere in North America or in international dioceses of the Episcopal Church), what is the distinction of "office holder?" Here we are either employees or self-employed - and often both. That is, we are self-employed for purposes of payroll taxes and for Social Security and Medicare taxes, and treated as employed for other purposes. We do not have the third option.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 28 March 2011 at 5:30pm BST

Laurence: "Why do Churches treat clergy so badly ? Is it just an organisational thing, incompetence, abuse of power, or what ?"

Incompetence mostly, I think. People in senior positions in the Church have invariably been saved from needing to dirty their hands in the "normal" workplace for many decades, and thus generally are very out of kilter with how other employers have had to come up to speed (because laws have forced them to) in so many areas of employment practice in recent years. It seems, from those I know, common for NSMs to get quite a shock when coming into the Church from being used to the normal standards of workplace and organisational efficiency practised everywhere else.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 9:28am BST

Common Tenure is actually good news for Church of England Clergy and gives them the rights of employees with the benefits of being an office holder. So I'm not sure that UNITE are really on to the best thing for all clergy in seeking employment status. It is interesting that some of us who hold dual role posts in the C of E are not being offered Common Tenure but employee status for our Diocesan roles. I would actually prefer to have Common Tenure as I believe it has advantages over employment.

Posted by Canon Andrew Godsall at Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 12:25pm BST

What Fr Mark said. Spot on I'd say. Very helpful analysis

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 1:04pm BST

Hi Marshall,

Our situation as clergy in the UK is just about as described by you. "Office Holder" is a term to describe this dichotomy and to try to justify it.


Posted by Mike Bossingham at Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 1:20pm BST

I should point out that the newspaper report (first link above) is incorrect to say that Ms Moore was sacked. If you read the judgment it is quite clear from para 1 that:

1. The Claimant was ordained a Methodist minister in 2003. In 2006 she was appointed, for a five-year term, as minister to a group of congregations in Cornwall. Over the course of the first half of 2009, following various problems of which we do not know the details, she felt that she was put under unfair pressure to resign; and in early June she was told that procedures were being commenced for her appointment to be “curtailed”. By letter from her solicitors dated 10 June 2009 she submitted her resignation from that appointment.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 7:15pm BST

"we want to ensure that we treat everyone fairly and properly"

If I may quote (of all people!) President Ronald Reagan: "Trust, but verified." Verified by the secular courts!

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 31 March 2011 at 1:47am BST

This is interesting.

There are dioceses who take the "these aren't employees" and so therefore they are exempt from discrimination law to not just gloss over their abuse of employees, but also to make themselves outside of the law in terms of how they treat females.

This precedent could have implications for a number of high profile dioceses...

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Thursday, 31 March 2011 at 11:06am BST

The _Church Times_ Legal Correspondent has a succinct summary of the case at
but access to this is restricted to subscribers until next Friday.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 1 April 2011 at 8:11am BST

Clergy (at least the beneficed priests among them) are certainly treated by the Church as 'employees' - demanding certain standards of employment. Why should they not also gain some of the benefits - like a proper advocacy?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 2 April 2011 at 12:25am BST
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