The Emerson Avenger Once Again Puts U*Us On The * About DIM Thinking Ministerial Fellowship Committee Complicity In Abusive U*U Clergy Misconduct. . .
Let's be democratic about this and hold a little straw poll vote.
As I have said before, my formal letter of grievance of February 14th, 1996, that UUA President John Buehrens arbitrarily dismissed as unworthy of any investigation but none-the-less forwarded to the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee shared my concerns about Rev. Ray Drennan's clearly derogatory and openly hostile labeling of Creation Day as a "manipulative and secretive" cult, his quite literally "in your face" sneering assertion that my claimed revelatory experience was nothing but a "psychotic experience" and his angry insistence that I seek immediate psychiatric treatment, and his sneeringly derisive dismissal of my religious beliefs as nothing but "silliness and fantasy". This letter of grievance not only aired my grievances in considerably more detail than the above condensed version but pointed out how Drennan's conduct clearly violated UU principles and purposes. The official response to this letter of grievance from the Ministerial Fellowship Committee's Executive under the directorship of Rev. Diane Miller was to dismiss my grievances by saying that Rev. Ray Drennan's behavior, as I very accurately described it in my lengthy letter of grievance, "seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."
Here are links to the UUMA's Code of Professional Practice and Guideliness for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry.
The Code of Professional Practice
for the Unitarian Universalist ministry
The UUMA Guidelines for the conduct of ministry
aka GUIDELINES for the UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST MINISTRY
I think that it is safe to assume that either the latter or both of these documents are the "appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" that Rev. Diane Miller was referring to.
So here are my two questions that I am asking you to answer in my straw poll -
1. Do you believe that Rev. Diane Miller and the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee was in fact justified in saying that Rev. Ray Drennan's conduct, as described above and in much more detail in my letters of grievance, is in fact "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership". A simple YES or NO answer will suffice but you may qualify your answer if you wish.
2. If your answer to the above question is NO (as I trust it will be in most cases, assuming any U*Us bother to excercise their "right of conscience" that is. . .) please answer the simple multiple choice question -
A - Rev. Diane Miller and the MFC Executive are apparently ignorant of the content of the UUMA's Guidelines and Code of Professional Practice
B - Rev. Diane Miller and the MFC Executive are probably lying
C - Rev. Diane Miller and the MFC Executive are apparently delusional
D - Other (Please specify)
I look forward to seeing the results of this straw poll.
The Dagger of Sweet Reason
aka The Emerson Avenger
aka Robin Edgar
Here is the full text of the first letter that I received from the Rev. Diane Miller and the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee in response to my initial letter of grievance which is a bit too long and detailed to post here.
This text is from an OCR scan of the actual letter -
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108 Ministerial Fellowship
(617) 742-2100 FAX (617) 367-3237
April 25, 1996
Mr. Robin Edgar
15 rue Lafleur Apt. 11
CANADA, H4G 3C3
Dear Mr. Edgar:
Your letter to President John Buehrens, along with various attached documents, was referred to me. You requested that your complaint be conveyed to the correct authorities within the Association. I serve as Director of Ministry and as Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC), the body charged with oversight of ministers.
Your complaint was shared with the minister, which is a standard step in our procedures. It was then reviewed by me with the chairperson of the MFC. We did not see, in the volume of material you sent, that your complaint is within the purview of the MFC.
While we recognize that your expectations of ministry are not being met in your relationship with the Rev. Ray Drennan, we did not see cause to further investigate the minister's conduct. It seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership.
We hope that you will find ways to pursue your spiritual insights which you and others will find both satisfying and harmonious in the pluralist theological environment of these times.
MFC, Executive Secretary
The Rev. Ray Drennan
Krystyna Matula, President, Unitarian Church of Montreal
MFC Executive Committee
So, as you can see, the MFC (under Rev. Diane Miller's "oversight") "shared" my complaint with Rev. Ray Drennan, whatever that means, and then made no further investigation at all of my very serious grievances but chose instead to whitewash Rev. Drennan's clearly abusive misconduct by saying - "It seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."
Here is my two page response to Rev. Diane Miller's initial dismissive letter -
15 Lafleur apt. 11
Canada, H4G 3C3
Rev. Diane Miller,
Director of Ministry
Unitarian Universalist Association
Friday May 10, 1996
Dear Rev. Miller,
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 25,1996. In this letter you stated that you "did not see" that my formal complaint about Rev. Drennan's unprofessional and demeaning conduct towards me was "within the purview of the MFC" yet it is President John Buehrens who was personally responsible for delivering my complaint of unprofessional conduct to you. Why would President Buehrens refer my complaint to you, the Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, if it was not clearly within the range of authority and responsibility of the MFC to deal with such complaints? I must admit that I was somewhat skeptical that my serious complaint about Rev. Drennan's deplorable conduct would be responsibly dealt with by a committee whose name states that is devoted to ministerial "fellowship" given the common definition of the word "fellowship". It is quite regrettable that your response to my complaint would indicate that my skepticism was well founded.
Your statement that Rev. Ray Drennan's conduct "seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" is rather disturbing. It gives every appearance of being an attempt to "whitewash" Rev. Drennan's unprofessional and demeaning conduct towards me and, quite frankly, it invites a sardonic and sarcastic response. In the interests of maintaining a civil relationship with you and in an effort to live up to the stated principles of our chosen faith I will, for the time being, resist the temptation to provide such a response. I will, however, say the following - the letter of complaint addressed to the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal dated Wednesday February 14, 1996, contains an accurate and unembellished description of Rev. Ray Drennan's comportment towards me. Those statements attributed to Rev. Drennan in the said letter that are contained within quotation marks are as close to word for word transcripts of what was said to me by Rev. Drennan as is humanly possible, and my descriptions of the manner and/or tone of voice in which these statements were made are totally reliable.
The statements attributed to Rev. Drennan are not fabrications nor are they in any way the products of a deluded "psychotic" mind as some people might have you believe. If Rev. Ray Drennan has denied making any of these statements he is, to put it succinctly, lying. If he does not deny making these statements then I do not see how his deplorable comportment towards me could be considered to be "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."
There are several aspects of Rev. Drennan's unprofessional and demeaning conduct that are of considerable concern to me but the most important and potentially damaging to me are the following:
1. Rev. Drennan has described my religious activities as a "cult" and he has clearly qualified his use of this word by saying that he means "a manipulative and secretive religious group". Besides being false this allegation is potentially extremely damaging to my reputation, within and outside of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, and could make it next to impossible for me to engage in interfaith activities should it spread beyond our congregation. While it is true that this damaging allegation was made during a private meeting between myself and Rev. Drennan and there were no other witnesses to this it does not change the fact that I cannot allow Rev. Drennan, or anyone else, to make such false and damaging statements about me without demanding a retraction and an apology. It is also clear from Rev. Drennan's repeated assertion that he is the "first one being honest" with me, and the "only one being honest" with me, that this and a number of other false and damaging rumours about me are circulating within the Board and Executive of the Unitarian Church of Montreal. I would be the first to say that it is likely to be only a small minority of people who share, and apparently genuinely believe, these damaging rumours but they are in highly influential positions within our congregation. These deplorable rumours, and other hear say and innuendo about me, may have already played a role in the Board's refusal to allow Creation Day to be celebrated in Channing Hall for a second time in October of 1995. Surely it is not possible that it is actually "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" for a Unitarian Universalist minister to make false and potentially extremely damaging allegations about a member of his or her congregation.
2. Rev. Drennan has described my revelatory religious experience as "your psychotic experience" which, besides completely denying the validity and truthfulness of my revelatory experience, clearly implies that I am suffering from a severe form of mental illness. I suggest that you look up the definition of the word "psychotic" or "psychoses" in a good dictionary or encyclopedia of psychology before you decide that Rev. Drennan's clearly hostile labelling of my revelatory experience as "your psychotic experience" is "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership." It is clear to me that Rev. Drennan fancies himself to be qualified to make such a diagnosis but I would not insult amateurs of any variety by describing his repeated misguided attempts to psychoanalyze me as "amateurish". I will say that these attempts were unprofessional in the extreme, not only in terms of Rev. Drennan's role as a minister in the Unitarian Universalist church, but also in terms of someone who apparently has formal training in the domain of family therapy.
The potentially damaging nature of Rev. Drennan's allegation that I am suffering from psychoses compelled me to seek out a qualified psychiatrist who could determine whether or not this was in fact the case. I saw Dr. Levitan of the Queen Elizabeth hospital outpatient clinic on two occasions during which I provided him with a detailed description of my revelatory religious experience as well as most of the claims that arose from it. He found that "no traces of psychoses are evident" and referred to me as "obviously sane" during our first meeting and asked me if I wanted him to send a letter thanking Rev. Drennan for sending a "perfectly sane person" to see him at the conclusion of our second meeting. Dr. Levitan saw absolutely no reason for me to see him for any further analysis or therapy and it was abundantly clear that he was not particularly impressed with Rev. Drennan's skills in the domain of psychiatry.
As a final note I will say that while I most certainly appreciate Dr. Levitan's confidence in my overall sanity I am not sure that I would even refer to myself as being "perfectly sane"; however, I would say to you, as I said to him, that I am as sane as anyone who has had a direct revelatory experience of God can be expected to be under the circumstances and I have good reason to believe that I am considerably more sane and rational than a number of those people who claimed profound revelatory religious experiences in the past.
3. Rev. Drennan scoffingly referred to the claims arising from my revelatory religious experience as "silliness and fantasy" before I could even begin to explain the exposition which illustrates, and thus serves to validate, most of my claims. He also made several other sarcastic and derisive comments about my revelatory religious experience and the claims with arose from it throughout our meeting of Thursday November 9, 1995, as well as on other occasions. I will spare you any further details (most of which are already contained in my letter of February 14) but I will ask you if it is genuinely "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" for a Unitarian Universalist minister to openly mock, ridicule, and deride the deeply held personal religious beliefs of a member of his or her congregation regardless of the minister’s privately held opinion of their validity? I would hope that this is not the case, yet this is what your letter would indicate if taken at face value.
I will cite a few other examples of how Rev. Ray Drennan's conduct towards me can, in my own opinion, hardly be considered to be "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" however the foregoing three points should be enough to persuade you to reconsider your response to my formal complaint about what I have very good reason to consider to be extremely unprofessional, demeaning, and abusive comportment towards me by Rev. Ray Drennan. I will add that your response gives the impression that Unitarian Universalist ministers are not subject to the guidelines of stated Unitarian Universalist principles. I have already pointed out how Rev. Ray Drennan's comportment towards me makes a complete mockery of most of the "Seven Principles" which Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote" but I would like to remind you of a little red pamphlet titled "What do Unitarian Universalists believe?". This pamphlet begins by stating, "We believe in freedom of religious expression. All individuals should be encouraged to develop their own personal theology, and to present openly their religious opinions without fear of censure or reprisal." It should be obvious that Rev. Ray Drennan's harshly critical and vehemently disapproving, to say nothing of demeaning, response to my effort to openly present my personal theology to him, a personal theology which is based on direct personal experience of God synthesized with considerable meditation, deliberation, and research, clearly constitutes severe and unjustified censure of my religious opinion.
This little pamphlet then goes on to say that, "We believe in the toleration of religious ideas. All religions, in every age and culture, possess not only an intrinsic merit, but also potential value for those who have learned the art of listening." Rev. Ray Drennan's behaviour is demonstrably intolerant of the religious ideas that I presented to him in spite of the fact that virtually all these religious ideas have clear precedents in the religions of this and other ages and in our own and other cultures as the exposition of pictures which I showed him clearly demonstrates. Rev. Ray Drennan's labelling of my religious ideas as "silliness and fantasy" before I had even begun to explain them to him and his repeated interruption of my presentation with negative, derisive, and mocking comments would tend to indicate that he has not yet learned the art of listening and it is quite evident that be had absolutely no interest in recognizing either the intrinsic merit or the potential value of the religious ideas that I presented to him.
This small pamphlet goes on to say, "We believe in the never-ending search for Truth. (Please note the capital T) If the mind and heart are truly free and open, the revelations which appear to the human spirit are infinitely numerous, eternally fruitful, and wondrously exciting." Rev. Ray Drennan's negative and demeaning comportment towards me clearly indicates that neither his mind nor his heart is truly free and open to the revelation which appeared to my spirit and his commitment to the "never-ending search for Truth " is called into question by his attitude towards the truths that I have tried to present to him. It is true that he is not the only Unitarian Universalist minister who has failed-in this regard but he is the only one who has launched a personal attack on me and has openly mocked and ridiculed my claim of a revelatory religious experience.
I could go on to point out to you a number of other ways in which Rev. Ray Drennan's unprofessional and demeaning comportment towards me violates the stated beliefs, principles, and ideals of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and I will do so in future if I should find it necessary; however, it should now be within your capacity to clearly perceive how Rev. Drennan's deplorable conduct is damaging not only towards me but to the ability of the Unitarian Universalist Association to credibly present itself as a religious community which believes in freedom of religious expression and which, in Rev. Drennan's words, "honours diversity of theology".
To bring you up to date with my case you should be aware that on Sunday, April 21, 1996 I brought this regrettable matter to the attention of our congregation as a whole during the "Sharing Joys and Concerns" segment of the Sunday service. I can assure you that it was not a "joy" by any means to have to stand up in front of the congregation and be obliged to inform them about Rev. Ray Drennan's deplorable conduct towards me. I handed out a two-page letter to concerned members of the congregation after this and subsequent services. (I am enclosing a copy of this letter for your perusal.) You should also be aware that I warned the Board of our church that I would take such a step if Rev. Ray Drennan refused to volunteer a formal apology to me. A copy of my letter addressed to President Krystyna Matula, which was read during April's Board meeting, is also enclosed. Perhaps the Board thought that I was bluffing and that I would not have the nerve to bring such damaging allegations about myself to the attention of the congregation as a whole because, needless to say, Rev. Drennan did not apologize nor has he offered any form of apology to date. This obstinate refusal on the part of Rev. Drennan to apologize to me in any way, shape, or form, for his demeaning and damaging comportment towards me is quite disturbing, and may be seen as unprofessional behaviour in itself.
One former Board member, who is involved in human rights issues offered to act as a mediator between me and Rev. Drennan in this matter. I readily accepted this person's offer however Rev. Drennan turned it down. No further progress has been made in this matter since my announcement to the congregation on April 21 and I have had no further communication with Rev. Ray Drennan or the Board.
I expect Rev. Ray Drennan to either confirm the truthfulness of my grievances about his comportment towards me or formally deny them. If Rev. Drennan confirms that my grievances about his comportment towards me are, to use his own terminology, "true enough" then I must insist that he formally retract his demeaning and damaging statements about me and deliver a formal apology to me and that he must do this before the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Montreal during an upcoming Sunday service at which I am present. I must also insist that he provide me with a written copy of his retraction and apology for my personal records. This is the first and most essential step that he must take if he wishes to move towards reconciliation and healing in this regrettable affair.
Should Rev. Drennan choose to deny the essential truthfulness of my description of his comportment towards me, something that would be highly inadvisable, then I will have to take steps to pursue this matter further; steps that ultimately will not reflect well on him or on the Unitarian Universalist religious community in general should it continue to fail to respond to my serious grievances about Rev. Ray Drennan's unprofessional and demeaning comportment towards me in a manner that may clearly be seen to live up to both the letter and the spirit of clearly stated Unitarian Universalist principles. This is, after all, "a matter of principle" in every sense of the word and I must inform you that because I know that I am right and, more particularly, because I know that I have been wronged, I will not let this matter rest until I have made every effort to ensure that justice is done and peace is restored.
Here is Diane Miller's self-described "wise" response -
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Ministerial Fellowship Committee
(617) 742-2100 FAX (617) 367-3237
May 20, 1996
Mr. Robin Edgar
15 Lafleur Apt. 11
CANADA, H4G 3C3
Dear Mr. Edgar,
I regret to learn that you have chosen to escalate the strife between you and the Minister and the Board of your church by voicing your complaint during a worship service and handing out a two page letter to the worshipers on more than one occasion.
You clearly feel wronged. That is unfortunate. However, taking comments made in a private conversation and publicizing your demand for an apology, you have made very serious public charges against the Reverend Mr. Drennan. In my opinion, and that of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, his comments as quoted by you do not warrant the description of "extremely unprofessional and demeaning" responses.
I am glad to hear that you were evaluated as "perfectly sane" by a psychiatrist. I am also glad you have had the profound experience of revelation and a direct experience of God. I am further glad to know you have thought so deeply about the principles of Unitarian faith.
These facts do not, however, justify your demands. The CUC, the UUA, and the Montreal congregation have no obligation to support, promote, study or approve of your religious perceptions in the course of their institutional work or as individuals.
I cannot think of any example of a mystic, a prophet, or a religious leader who evidenced intractable anger at not being understood, as you seem to be doing. I would hope that a direct experience of God might direct your energy away from this dispute toward profound concerns.
Your letter confirms to me the wisdom of the MFC's decision to close your complaint.
Executive Secretary to the MFC
and Director of Ministry
Revs. Marjorie Skwire and Gene Pickett, MFC
The Rev. Ray Drennan, Minister
Ms. Krystyna Matula, Board President
I never responded to this final official brush off by Rev. Diane Miller and the Ministerial Fellowship Committee preferring to try to obtain justice at the congregational level. I think that these three letters should provide more than enough "context" for you all to be able to make an informed decision about the self-described "wisdom" of Rev. Diane Miller's and the MFC Executive's response to my totally legitimate and very serious grievances about Rev. Ray Drennan's abusive clergy misconduct.
Please excercise your "right of conscience" by submitting your "votes" and any related comments.