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Showing posts from July, 2007

Eco-articles from

Two interesting articles I saw on today: First - "Solar Power Makes Tiny Village Beam" - This is story about a village in India that previously without electricity - until just two years ago. Then, a man named Ram, who doesn't have a high school degree, attended a nearby program called "Barefoot College" - an institution started to help rural Indians help themselves to learn to solve their own problems. Ram was selected by the elders of his village to attend the College, and he learned about solar engineering. Now, most of the homes have solar panels on their roofs. Second - "Growing Front-Yard Food Can Rile Neighbors" - This article talks about the growing group of people trying to grow at least part of their own food in their own yards. Apparently, some neighbors in some communities find this offensive - apparently fresh food growing is an eyesore? But people are working hard to grow at least some of their own food, and even working with ci

Packing and Moving

Now that I am finally cast-free, I have to begin the oh-so-fun work of packing and making arrangements with movers. I have a moving company lined up, although I am checking out one more company that I just recently had recommend to me. Sorting through all the different companies and trying to do an inventory of my stuff has been a challenge. Just how many bookshelves do I have? How many end tables? And I'm trying to be careful about reading all the fine print. What charges are going to show up on the day of the move that weren't included in my estimate? Do you all have any good/bad moving experiences to share? Packing is a different story. My parsonage is huge - both here, actually, and in Franklin Lakes, and I'm just one person. And one cat. Ok, and one brother. My actor brother Todd is moving with me to New Jersey - he's thrilled he'll be so close to NYC. But he's also technically lived with me here in Oneida. It's just hard to count him because he's

Review: Power Surge by Michael W. Foss

I recently finished reading Michael Foss's book Power Surge , and have been meaning to write up a review. When I received the church profile for Franklin Lakes, where I will begin September 1st, I was struck in their profile by their statement, "seeking to move from a membership model to a discipleship model." I find this extremely encouraging! When I asked some folks at the church about it, they told me this is a key idea in Foss' book, Power Surge , which Bishop Devadhar has been encouraging congregations in the Greater New Jersey conference to read. They gave me a copy of the book, and it was a quick, easy, interesting read. I have to admit, the cover, the title, the subtitle (six marks of discipleship for a changing church) - none of these are things that would make me likely to pick up this book if I wasn't directed to it as I was. It reminds me (both before and after reading it) of Adam Hamilton's Leading Beyond the Walls - another book that I enjoyed


I've either read or seen several things lately that deserve a mention, but aren't things I will take the time to review fully. So, here's a brief review of many things: Movies: Evan Almighty - We went to see this as a group from my church for part of our summer movie study. It was cute. Not as good as Bruce Almighty . As I've read in reviews, this movie did indeed seem to dumb things down. The theological/faith questions that were raised in Bruce Almighty just weren't there in this one. But still, a few good points of discussion and of course Steve Carrell is always great. Evening - Disappointing. I thought it would have to be good with such a cast. But it was just bad. Knocked Up - So vulgar, of course, but also very sweet, and hilarious. I can't remember laughing so hard at a movie in a long, long time. Hairspray - So much fun! A movie where you just have a big grin plastered on your face from watching it. The music will get stuck in your head. Harry Pott

Pastor Nightmares

Pastor nightmares. Not nightmares about pastors, no. Some people have these, I'm sure. But I'm talking about nightmares related to the work of being a pastor. I don't usually have nightmares. I didn't even while I was a child have nightmares often. I had nightmares about being eaten by alligators after visiting Okie Fanokie Swamp when I was five. We had taken a boat ride in the swamp during the day, getting up close to alligators, and I thought the whole thing was, well, terrifying. I also regularly have nightmares about flying. Not about something going wrong while I'm on a flight, just nightmares about being on a plane. Yeah, I don't like flying. I will do it if I have to, and while I'm on the flight I will be (hopefully silently and unobserved) having an internal panic attack. So I have regular nightmares where I am on airplanes. But I also have a separate category of nightmares. Pastor nightmares. One nightmare is where I oversleep for worship. I'm

Theology Meme

My internet is MIA at my house/church right now, and I'm in the library trying to do everything I might need to do online before I crutch it back out to the car. (6 days to go...) I still have a review or two to write, but for now, for brevity, is this theology meme I saw over at Philosophy Over Coffee : 1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 high), how would you rate your theological knowledge and breadth/depth of reading? Oh boy. Probably a 4 or 5. I feel pretty comfortable with my understanding of theological concepts, but when it comes to knowing which historical theologian thought what exactly, I'm not very well read. I have some areas of strength, but not, probably, a good overarching grasp on the major thinkers. Alas - systematic theology class seems so long ago! 2. What thoughts and feelings come to your mind when you hear the word "theology"? I was a 'pre-theology' major in undergrad , and my little brothers always used to tease that it was "before the s


As I've mentioned, I'm beginning a new appointment on September 1st. Both here in Oneida, and in Franklin Lakes, NJ, congregations are in a time of transition. This is only my second appointment, and so I don't have a lot of experience with transitioning between congregations, or entering a new appointment, and I have no direct experience of helping the congregation I'm leaving prepare for their own transition. So far, of course, I've found my transition into Franklin Lakes to be very different from my transition into Oneida. So many factors make that the case, from the pastors I'm following to the transition policies and practices of the conferences, and certainly, because I'm not doing a typical July 1st move this time around. (Franklin Lakes is graciously spending two months without a pastor this summer while I heal from broken-ankle-repair-surgery - later, Oneida will have one month between my departure and my successor's arrival.) Yesterday, I met w

A Good Sermon on the Good Samaritan

Here is an excellent sermon on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) by Rev. Edward Markquart. Markquart's site is a frequent stop in my sermon preparation, and I particularly like this one. My sermon is almost, but not quite yet done. Sometimes I read something so good when I'm preparing for a sermon but I just can't fit it in to the direction I'm heading. Something I wanted to use this week - this "parable about a parable" that Markquart shares: A parable about a parable. One day a priest went to visit the Jericho Road. He was a very religious man, and he saw somebody who had been hurt on the Jericho Road, and he was mortified. He came and gave that person the last rites, and he quickly ran back to his parish as fast as he could. The following Sunday, he gave a sterling sermon about the Jericho Road, and he felt so much better. ... The

RevGals Friday Five: Harry Potter Special

Today, I've reached the breaking point in this whole being in a cast nonsense. I had a lot of running around to do today, after a busy week, and I'm just wiped out. My ankle doesn't hurt - it is the rest of my body that can't wait for the cast to be off. Ugh. So, even though I have more thoughtful posts in the back of my mind, I think it was best to play some RevGals Friday Five instead: Option 1: Accio Friday Five! 1. Which Harry Potter book is your favorite and why? I think they keep getting better and better. As the characters age, we see more depth of emotion, intense action, etc, and more unfolding of Rowling's carefully, complexly crafted world. Four, five, and six are especially excellent. 2. Which character do you most resemble? Which character would you most like to get to know? Oh, Hermione for sure. I'm afraid I was always a bit of teacher's pet in school. To get to know? Harry, of course! 3. How careful are you about spoilers? a) bring 'em


I've just finished reading Power Surge by Michael Foss, which I'll review later. Foss talks at one point about stewardship and giving in his congregation. He writes, "We no longer ask for annual pledges. We have come to believe that the Holy Spirit will guide the giving of those who have heard of God's generosity and are open to the teaching of God's Word. So we encourage people to prepare a giving plan - one that only they and God know about. When the plan is completed, we ask them to seal it in a self-addressed, stamped envelope. On a given Sunday, the people process to the altar and leave their giving plans there, in sealed envelopes, before God and the congregation. In a few weeks, we send them back, unopened, to our worshipers. We have no idea what will be giving in the coming year." (pg 104) Foss' church has found this practice to increase giving. I really like this idea of sending the pledges back to the worshipers, and I'm very intrigued by th


*No, not me. Please, I've only been a pastor for four years. Thankfully, it is a little early to feel burnt-out yet. I have my days, of course, and times when a particular event/person/situation makes me feel a touch of burnout. But I'm still an optimist about the church and my ministry on most days. I have hope. But, I've been thinking about burnout. Clergy burnout in particular is something we hear a lot about in the church. New clergy burnout quickly. Young clergy burnout quickly. Female clergy, struggling through a still male-dominated field, have high rates of burnout. I don't have a figure handy, but I remember hearing, for example, that female clergy have an average local church ministry of just eight years. Burnout, and preventing burnout, is serious church business. I'm thinking of it because of a book I'm reading now (which I'll eventually review). In it, the author talks a lot about burnout, and how to help pastors and parishioners avoid burnout.

Robert Tucker sings "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar

If you read this blog regularly you know I'm a huge fan of Jesus Christ Superstar. Here's a YouTube clip of my brother's friend Robert Tucker singing Gethsemane. I don't really like the orchestration on this a lot, and it is too loud (in the video - maybe it will sound better mixed on the CD) but Robert's vocals are excellent! He's the friend of my youngest brother, and so I've seen Robert sing in school plays since he was pretty young - he's come a long way and has an excellent voice!

Update: from emergingumc...

Update: Read this post please - this article that I was referring to has been removed at the request of the author, who prefers to wait until the full study report is out later this year (I think) to have the conversations taking place. You should read this interesting post/article, emergingumc: Megachurch... or Megaconsumers...

Review: The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne

I recently finished reading Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical . I hope many of you have already heard the sad news about Shane and The Simple Way community that he started in Philadelphia - on June 21st a 7-alarm fire completely destroyed the community and several other homes in the area. You can visit The Simple Way 's website to donate or see other ways to help rebuild. Shane's book is a sort of autobiography, and a call to discipleship (and revolution?!). The style is very readable - it is a story, narrative. A quick read (although I managed to drag it out over a few months - but that's because I wasn't reading it, not because it took a long time to read!) What's frustrating about this book: I find Shane's logic sometimes over-simplistic. He tends to simplify the viewpoints of people he's referring to, identifying liberals and conservatives in ways I don't think do service to liberals or conservatives.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Yesterday was my fourth anniversary at St. Paul's, and my fourth anniversary of being a pastor. I find that I'm particularly reflecting on the start of my ministry this year because, as I've mentioned , I am moving September 1 to a new appointment in the Greater New Jersey annual conference . I've been thinking about how the start of this appointment in Franklin Lakes will be very different from the start of my appointment in Oneida. I'm not a brand new pastor anymore. When I started at St. Paul's, I had been a youth pastor, a ministry intern, and worked at a United Methodist Agency . I had guest-preached a lot. I had been a CPE chaplain . But I'd never been a pastor. I'd never really led a church committee meeting, or filled out statistical tables. I'd never had a staff who primarily reported to me (and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, of course), I'd never celebrated a baptism and tried to figure out how to hold the baby and the hymnal at