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Showing posts from October, 2006

Bishop's Convocation: Deepening the Well

Last week I went to our annual Bishop's Convocation, a gathering for clergy in the New York West episcopal area . It was the first time I've attended. The Convocation is always the same time as Drew's (my alma mater) annual Tipple-Vosburgh lectures , which I've been in the habit of choosing over the Convocation. Let's face it - Drew can usually pull in 'bigger' speakers, I get to see friends that I don't often see otherwise, and going to New Jersey for away time is more exciting than going an hour and a half away to Rochester. But...that said, I decided very last minute to attend the Convocation instead of Tipple. I'd just come back from GBCS in DC, and didn't feel like traveling very far. Plus, I guess I think it is important to invest myself here in my hometown area more than I have been. It's been three and a half years now since I graduated from seminary. I loved it, and I loved the people. But I love here too, and need to be more in

Movie Review: The Departed

Last weekend a friend and I went to see The Departed , the new Martin Scorsese film. It wasn't the top film on my list to see, but it seemed to be the available film to see at the right time at a theatre that was easy to get to, so off we went. I really enjoyed the film, I think. It was one of those films where I just wasn't quite sure what to say when I left. What I did not like, however, was the audience who saw the film with me. I saw the film while I was in DC, so it was a bigger theatre with far more movie-viewing-companions than I'm used to for anything other than Harry Potter openings. The audience seemed to be laughing at totally inappropriate places, where the action just wasn't funny. I've got a good sense of humor, I think, but what I was seeing wasn't funny, wasn't meant to be funny, and if you thought some of it was funny - well, I worry about you. I also had to roll my eyes on the way out, when we were standing near a couple, one of whom kept a


I've just finally done some major updating of my blogroll. It was very very sadly out of date. If I've accidentally deleted you, please let me know. I removed blogs without posts in the last month or two, and tried to eliminate duplications between my own blogroll and the other blogrolls I support.

Online Studies

A while back I mentioned that we would be trying online studies this fall at St. Paul's. Well, they're both kicking off this week: a scripture study , usually following the lectionary, though occasionally using different passages if we are using different passages in worship, and a book study , currently on Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus . I'm not sure how these studies will go - I'm not sure St. Paul's will be 'into' blogging-studies, at least not right away, so if you feel like stopping by and joining in and setting a (friendly) blogging example, I'd welcome your input!

Reflections: GBCS Fall Meeting, Part III

Another set of (rambling) thoughts about the fall GBCS meeting. GBCS is blessed to have a really great set (and fairly sizeable set) of young board members. Currently, one youth and a few college students, and a few seminarians, and a couple of "old" young adults like myself. We had a handful of young people last quadrennium too, but no organized time together, and I don't think I knew more than one of the other young adults in any meaningful way. This quadrennium, we always set aside at least one meal time to eat together. Sometimes we're working toward a specific purpose - talking about the Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly - sometimes just for time together. I really appreciate this group, this time. It is at these gatherings, though, and in some other places in my ministry lately, that I feel most like I have a split personality when it comes to the Church - the UMC specifically, but the Church as a whole. I don't know where to f

Reflections: GBCS Fall Meeting, Part II

More reflections from my fall General Board of Church and Society meeting: I mentioned in my last post that we have several new board members. One new member presided at our opening worship at communion celebrant. As she was giving the invitation she said something like "it's not the size of the meal that matters, it is the number of people you can gather around the table." Well said. The whole opening worship centered on the death penalty and our historic United Methodist opposition to the death penalty. We had a list in our bulletins of all the names of those who had been executed since the 1970s, and we prayed for them, their families, their victims' families, etc. It was pretty powerful. Later Jim Winkler gave his General Secretary's report. A few excerpts: Did you know that GBCS' roots come from 1) "the old Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals established by the 1912 General Conference to work for alcohol prohibition, the suppression

Reflections: General Board of Church and Society Fall Meeting

I’ve been away from blogging this week, spending time in Washington, DC at my biannual meeting of the General Board of Church and Society . This gathering also marked the first meeting of the Task Force on the Book of Resolutions, which I chair, and which I asked for your input on last spring . I was pretty anxious going into the meeting. I’ve ‘run’ many meetings now, since becoming a pastor, and these usually don’t worry me. And I also chair the Communications Committee here at GBCS. But I’ve never had to set the entire agenda, collect all the advance content-information, and generally set the course for the work of the committee. On Communications, for instance, the agenda is pretty ‘regular’ and typical. We have a clear task. But with this Task Force, we’re addressing a pretty open-ended question: Establish an interagency task force convened by the General Board of Church and Society to examine The Book of Resolutions with specific reference to its content, including but not limite

Church Websites

We're about to redesign our church website, and give it a major overhaul. I know what makes a bad website, but what makes a good church website? What's your favorite one? What features do you look for? What features seem cool but never actually get used? I'd love your thoughts.

from jockeystreet: God's Ego

My brother has an excellent post up, "God's Ego." An excerpt: "And so I've often wondered why, if I, a pretty flawed individual with a fragile self-esteem, can handle that sort of thing, so many believers insist that God can't. Why is it that we want to attribute to God an ego so fragile that it can't tolerate well-meaning believers getting a few facts wrong? Why is it that we believe that God's self-worth is so conditional that mixing up some of the biographical information is a sure way to earn his wrath? Working on the assumption that God is smarter than us . . . and just all around better than us, I'd have to assume that, when it comes to the details, he'd be willing to let a few things slide . . . Why, when it comes to God, do so many people want to convince me that what matters isn't the desire you have to grow closer, isn't the effort you make to conform to his will, isn't the openness you have to faith and love, isn't

Churches and McMansions

Jay Voorhees at Only Wonder writes ( of his recent trip to Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City): "I did get to make the pilgrimage to Church of the Resurrection (or as I like to call it, the MethoMall) to touch base on the schedule and figure out how far it was from the hotel. It would be interesting to do a doctoral thesis on which came first, the church or the high rent community that surrounds it. Don’t get me wrong, for I am not saying that COR is doing anything wrong — in fact they are doing a bunch of things right. But it does confirm my thesis that United Methodist church plants are much more likely to succeed if they are planted in booming bedroom communities filled with McMansions. What we’ve been unable to figure out is how to succeed at being missional in more working or lower income communities, and especially communities of transition." I thought Jay raised an interesting concern. Do any of you know of growing ministries/missional communities that are

Membership Books

Anyone have thoughts on how to get UMC membership books back into order from a state of general chaos? My secretary and I have been kinda sorta working on this for three years now, and I need a better strategy. There has been no chronological roll kept. If I want to start one, where do I start? Do I include in the chronological roll members who have died? We don't have family cards. We don't have a preparatory membership list. Chaos! Add to this the fact that our oldest membership book is in German (St. Paul's was an Evangelical United Brethren Church once upon a time, and was very German), and you get an idea of the mess we are in. Help appreciated!!