Doesn't Faith Matter?
Let me interject that I don’t know Martha Clark and have no bone to pick concerning her promotion. She sounds legally qualified and competent, and the search appeared to be thorough. I wish her well.
However, in reporting about Clark’s promotion, the news story reads no differently than if it were talking about a promotion at secular Humana, just down the street in Louisville, where Clark once worked. What do we learn of Clark’s spiritual competence for church leadership? Nothing. Does she believe? Does it matter? What do we find out about her theology of the intersection of secular law and Christian practice? Nothing from this news report.
What does Clark bring to the job? Experience, we’re told. Does she bring faith or congruence with our church purposes? We don’t know. She may well be spiritually mature and a pillar of her church, but we wouldn’t know it from this report, nor would we know if such qualifications were even considered germane to the search. Maybe they weren’t. Linda Valentine didn’t mention anything about spiritual qualifications for Clark.
Is this just another job for Clark, or is it a calling by God to a Christian vocation, a significant leadership ministry in a self-consciously Christian organization? We don’t know. Apparently such information is not important for such a news story, or maybe not important for such a staffing decision. But I can’t help but think that it should be.
The previous general counsel, Erik Graninger, came under fire for his harsh, take-no-prisoners contribution to the “Louisville Papers,” the legal briefs that counsel extremely aggressive and contentious tactics for presbyteries to grab the property of transferring congregations. Thus, the attitude and tactics of the general counsel do have bearing in this ostensibly Christian organization. An attorney who sees her calling to be pastoral as well as legal would probably operate with a different set of practices than one who makes it her job only to fiercely contend for worldly goods and power for the corporation.
I hope we have a new denominational general counsel who prays about her decisions, who looks to the good of the Body of Christ and not only to the secular ambitions of an institution, who seeks to live by Christian guidance and principles as she practices law with excellence, and who sees herself in a role of Christian responsibility and leadership. I hope this isn’t just a nice promotion, like one might get at Humana or any other corporation.
I can hope, but I don’t know, because the news story gives us no clue about the spiritual side of this decision. That, to me, seems odd, for a church.