Pastoral and Spiritual Care in Municipalities

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In Recent Decades We’ve Lost A Lot, Including our Core Values

Let's Put these Values back into Family & Community

Let’s Put these Values back into Family & Community

We often go to the community to ask what you think and what you want. We then use that information to go out and tell the world that’s what you want. It’s all about you, our families, and our communities. So now, again, we’re turning to you, our readers, for guidance on what you’d like to see done in our communities.

This time it’s all about re-establishing family values in our own hearts and homes, and core values in our communities and local government. Why? Because it seems they got lost in the shuffle somehow. We lack vision, spirituality, caring often in our own homes, more often in the streets of our communities, and all too often in our local government offices.

We have a couple of questions to ask and would appreciate it very much if you’d take a moment of time to let us know what you think about the following topics:

Town Marriage Officer

two become one smallThe New York State Domestic Relations Law, Section 11-c authorizes Town Boards to appoint Marriage Officers have the authority to solemnize marriages within the town. The Marriage Officer is available to solemize and officiate at civil marriage ceremonies after the couple has gone through the legal formalities of obtaining a marriage licence etc. The Marriage Officer would meet with the couple and chat about the meaning of marriage and other important topics about marriage and sharing a life together. The Marriage Officer would also assist in organizing and arranging the actual ceremony along the preferences of the couple, while ensuring that the basic requirements of law concerning legal marriage are incorporated into the ceremony, whether religious, spiritual, or secular/humanist. Of course, the Marriage Officer would be appropriately trained and educated to do this work.

Why a Marriage Officer? Well, very simply put, too many marriages are done even by clergy without taking the unique characteristics of the individuals contemplating marriage into consideration, or they’re hell bent on some religious legalism that scares or confuses the hell out of young people. All too frequently the priest or minister doesn’t take the time nor does he or she have the listening skills required to hear what the partners are saying. Too much PC, too. That has to change because it’s killing the family unit.

The Town Marriage Officer would not be compensated by the Town but NYS law does provide that the Marriage Officer may receive $75.00 for performing a civil ceremony solemnizing a marriage. The fee would be paid by the parties contracting marriage.

Invocation before Public, Town, Village Meetings

Contrary to what some raging atheists and secularist liberals might have planted in American minds, prayer is not prohibited in government functions. Congress opens each session with prayer, the Supreme Court opens with an invocation, the President and other government officials take oaths on the Bible, and our courts all take oaths on the Bible. Prayer and invoking divine guidance is deeply rooted in our American traditions.

The opening sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. [Supreme Court in Marsh v. Chambers]

invocation-2In a landmark case involving invocations or public prayer, in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), the United States Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of opening each day of its sessions with a prayer by a chaplain paid with taxpayer dollars, and specifically concluded, “The opening sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.” The Supreme Court further held, “To invoke divine guidance on a public body….Is not, in these circumstances, and ‘establishment’ of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.” The Supreme Court affirmed in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984), “Our history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance in deliberations and pronouncements of the Founding Fathers and contemporary leaders.” The Supreme Court further stated, “Those government acknowledgments of religion serve, in the only ways reasonably possible in our culture, the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future, and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society. For that reason, and because of their history and ubiquity, those practices are not understood as conveying governmental approval of particular religious beliefs.”

We’d like to get your opinion on whether you would appreciate and support the practice of opening our local government sessions with prayer or an invocation.

Town Chaplain

There are many occasions where a spiritual guide would be beneficial in a town or village. Many government organizations have chaplains who care for the spiritual needs of their members. Police, fire department, rescue, emergency response units all have chaplains, as do all military branches.

chaplain emergency responseThe Town Chaplain would serve as the go to for fire and rescue personnel, for law enforcement, even for other employees who are facing crisis or conflict.

When disaster strikes a community, the community is frequently unprepared to handle the spiritual needs of the victims and usually has to resort to calling in outsiders to provide psychological first aid and spiritual support. Why should that be?

The Town Chaplain would be a qualified individual with ministry and other training who would be available to fire department, rescue squad, law enforcement and to town employees who need spiritual care and support. Believe it or not, that happens more than you’d think, and many times these persons don’t get the care they need and everyone suffers for that.

And what happens when there’s a local tragedy or disaster? The Town should have a coordinator for first response to the victims, in this case their spirits.

The Town Chaplain would receive a per diem stipend from the Town for each service. A minimum of $50 up to $100 for a day’s commitment.

Hang in there, we’re almost done!

Town Chaplain Stipend

Of course, in all fairness, the Town Chaplain would be spending time and energy to do that job. Would you agree that a small stipend or fee should be allowed,say a minimum of $50 per call or $100 per day, for example?

Just one more question:

All done! Be sure to check back in a day or two and view the results. These polls are not only useful to us in our journalistic work but are fun, too, for our readers to see what friends and neighbors are thinking.
Thanks again very much for participating!

Nature Can Teach Us!
The Editor
Religion and Spirituality

“Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.”
“Silence is admission when when the accused ought to have spoken and was able to.”

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