The Professional Church Secretaries’ Association’s annual conference took place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in Oshawa. Attended by 55 church secretaries and administrators from all over southern Ontario, the event was a great way to get to know people who work in a very secluded profession.
The church secretary’s position is often misunderstood by the outside world and can be seen as “not a real job” and being done by “grandma types” who have nothing better to do. This could not be further from the truth. A church secretary often runs the day-to-day business of the church and her or his job can include bookkeeping, hall rental booking, building maintenance troubleshooting, assisting church committees, taking minutes, lending a pastoral ear, and booking funerals and weddings, to name just a few – oh, yes, and preparing Sunday bulletins!
The church secretary’s job is exclusive, and anyone in this position usually finds that there is no one to turn to for assistance, advice or just to vent frustrations. That’s why the association is so valuable.
Made up of church secretaries and administrators from across southern Ontario, and from many denominations, our membership allows us to have constant contact with others doing the same job. Solutions to problems or advice can be received easily and quickly via email or a quick phone call.
Each fall for the past 24 years, we have gathered as a group in various cities and towns across the province for a three-day extravaganza of learning and fun. This year’s theme was “Learning with Laughter”. There are workshops dealing with all kinds of relevant topics from “How to Leverage Technology” to “Stopping Elder Abuse” and “Stress is Funny.” Over the years, we have learned about conflict management, working with volunteers, copyright laws and many other subjects.
The conferences are not all about work. There is great entertainment and enjoyable outings to local hot spots. This year, we were entertained by the Howling Heretics, a wonderful musical duo from Jubilee United Church in Scarborough, whose musical talent and humorous biblical references kept us laughing and cheering for almost two hours. Day trips included tastings and shopping at a local winery and a visit to a working flour and lumber mill; their home-made doughnuts were to die for!
I invite all church secretaries and administrators in the diocese to join us in 2018 when we celebrate our 25th anniversary in the London and Stratford area. For more information, visit www.pcsa.ca.
Helen Elbertsen is the Parish Administrator of St. George, Ajax (Pickering Village).