Methodist church owes congregations answers
Re Sept. 19 article, “Confusion persists for Schoharie County Methodists losing churches”: I am writing this letter in response to Bishop Webb’s response regarding the closing of some churches in Schoharie County.
His decision and/or the conference's decision was partly based on a survey the conference conducted in the county, which we were led to believe was to build our congregations and strengthen our churches. It is very disheartening to find we were misled and the outcome is that four churches in Schoharie County are closed or closing, and who knows how many more.
These churches are quite typical of all churches in rural areas with small close knit congregations, most of which are elderly. The remaining churches have a sense that their existence may be at stake next, lacking any tangible reason actually having to do with a functional church having their doors closed within a matter of weeks or months.
This decision, I don’t think, was based on the lack of participation, because all churches no matter what denomination are suffering. Several reasons have been given in several letters from Mr. Webb or the conference, none of which make sense to any of us, given the circumstances for so many reasons at different times, and given the closed churches operations at this time.
To me, this a total disrespect for those congregations that have put their blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the money donated, into building those churches over many decades. These people and their ancestors don’t deserve this. Most are elderly and would like to continue in those churches for their remaining years. Some knew their church couldn’t go on for many more years, but it would have been their decision, not someone from the outside with no idea of what the church meant to them.
Trying to justify the closings by comparing this situation to changing times, such as closing of post offices, small stores, or the price of milk is anything but rational. Our communities may be poor, but we are still here in reasonable numbers. Our churches are still operating as traditional as they were when our forefathers founded them before we were even a nation. Yes, maybe we could make changes in our churches for this day and age, but closing them is not the answer.
The decision to take the memberships of these congregations and designate them to another not only isn’t in line with the church rules, but is in violation of constitutional rights to worship where and how they wish. It will also result in the loss of members, not only in the churches affected, but throughout the churches as a whole as has been seen in the Catholic Church closing a few years ago.
As to the claim it’s to make better use of the resources at hand, I would ask what resources? Money: The conference already takes 14 percent of these churches' revenues. I would ask just what we receive for that 14 percent? Leadership: we have had in our church three very dedicated lay speakers, two of which have lost interest. What does the conference do to help any church get qualified clergy, since one of the reasons was that lay persons led the church? Is this the fault of these churches or is it the failure of those that are responsible for administering and guiding the churches?
As to the threats we hear that there may be retaliations against anyone who write letters or editorials or speak out against the decision to close churches, there is nothing I can think of more anti-Christian or un-American than that. This country was founded on Christian beliefs, and to think a senior authority can issue such as statement is in itself startling.
Personally, I would be at a loss if I couldn’t take one day a week out in this very hectic and troubling time to spend time with others who dislike hatefulness, deception and violence to participate and concentrate in the good things in life. Actions and attitudes expressed by the bishop and conference have created a great deal of distrust, hurt, disbelief and sadness throughout the church community in Schoharie County.
No one in authority in this situation has shown or given me any indication they are following what Jesus would have done. Remember in everything — WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) is most always the right answer to any problem.
EMTs won’t be earning commensurate pay after minimum wage hike
Good news, youth of New York. High school educations, career skills — those are things of no concern anymore. Because now you, too, can make good wages without a high school diploma and with a minimal skill set.
All sarcasm aside, though, this whole 80 percent raise for minimum wage workers poses a couple of concerns. Now, there is no doubt that minimum wage is not exactly a “livable” wage, especially for those providing for families. I am actually all for raising minimum wage to match the cost of living.
Here’s the first concern, though: the fact that we are raising only the minimum wage. A minimum wage job is one that requires very little in the way of skills. You are paid to receive what little training is required. Whether it is flipping a burger or operating a cash register, it’s not a difficult task to master.
Now, let’s compare that to my job, as an emergency medical technician (EMT). I paid for my training, which consists of a large set of skills and knowledge necessary to save someone’s life.
All people are equal; however, all jobs are not. The fast food worker holds your burger in their hands (and often gets the order wrong); the EMT holds a person’s very life in their hands. Like it or not, one of those jobs is clearly more crucial than the other. In New York state, most EMTs start at under $12 per hour. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to start fast food employees at $15 per hour. “But it will be a gradual increase over eight years,” he tells us. That’s still an approximately 80 percent raise over those eight years.
Guess what kind of raise I get over eight years: less than 6 percent. After 10 years in EMS, I still make less than $14 per hour. Cuomo’s pay hike for minimum wage will make EMTs (and many other careers) the new minimum wage.
Here’s another concern, and it leads back to the opening comment: if our youth can get a job requiring minimal effort and still make more money than one requiring more effort and education, what motivation do they have to strive for anything more than the bare minimum? Better pay is a reward for putting in more effort.
This letter may sound selfish or petty, like I am saying it’s unfair because I am personally not benefitting. That’s partially right: I don’t believe it is fair for myself and my fellow EMTs to make less money than a person whose most difficult skill is flipping a hamburger.
However, I also apply the same standard to myself. I wouldn’t expect to make the same salary as a neurosurgeon. I don’t have as much knowledge, and I didn’t put in as much time and money into my education as they do.
I have a lot of respect for people who take minimum wage jobs. It’s often work for which they are overqualified, and it is certainly better than refusing to work at all. I am certainly in favor of finding ways to encourage people to further their education, so that they can get jobs above the minimum wage line. And I also believe minimum wage should be increased to a wage people can live on, so long as other jobs see proportionate wage increases.
Job pay should be based on many things: the amount of education and/or training needed, the difficulty of the skill set involved, and how crucial it is to society’s well-being. However, “because I want to make more without putting more effort in” shouldn’t ever be a consideration in the matter.
Fortunately for the people of New York, we EMTs will continue to provide emergency medical care of a quality far above what Gov. Cuomo apparently thinks we’re worth.