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Showing posts from February, 2008

Room in Your Heart

Michelle over at 33 Names of Grace has a really beautiful post up about how we love congregations, and how congregations love pastors, and about how both can continue to open their hearts to love again when their is a change of pastoral appointment. She writes, "Whenever anyone says to me, "I'm glad you are here" they pretty much say immediately after that "But I loved my previous pastor, too." I usually just listen but would it help if I said this: I loved my previous church too. It is a strange thing to be a pastor, to have a job that invites you to love a people and then be ready to leave them, and to leave them completely enough that they can connect to the new person whose job it is to love them, and so on. It is privileged and odd work, and it is the work to which I have been called. When I became Zane's mother, I was once going on to my spiritual director about how completely he filled my heart. "I can't imagine having another child,&qu

General Conference; What *should* we talk about?

We've spent time around the methoblogosphere in the last couple of weeks talking about General Conference . I think many of us agree that even though we don't agree on issues around human sexuality, that we'll be sorry to see a once-in-four-years gathering of the UMC focus so much time and energy exclusively on those issues. I received my Advance Daily Christian Advocates in the mail last week - there are hundreds and hundreds of petitions. Though certainly many surround these controversial issues, the bulk of them address the whole wide scope of church life - finances, global ministries, poverty, fighting AIDs, discipleship, ministries with young people, the candidacy process and elders orders, the episcopacy, etc. So, what is important? What are the issues you most want to see us address at General Conference? I'm particularly interested in: 1) The "global nature of the church" and proposals that decentralize the role of the United States in the denominati

Beyond Day to Day: Visioning

Lately I've been struggling with what I expect is a typical pastoral dilemma. There are so many things I think about us doing together as a congregation long term, so many visions I have, so many things that float through my mind as possibilities for our direction together. We struggle with lots of typical issues, but we also have lots of potential for growth, discipleship, social change, etc... But, when it comes down to it, I spend so much of my week just taking care of the 'regular business' of being a pastor. Writing a sermon. Preparing for the worship service. Leading the worship service. Meetings. Sunday School. Seasonal plans. Meetings. Statistical tables. Visitation. Meetings. District/Conference obligations. Planning baptisms, weddings, funerals. Even occasionally reading a great book about things I'd like to be doing in my congregation. How do you move beyond the things that just have to get done every week to carve out time for thinking on a grander scheme? I

General Conference: Can We Stay Together?

Saturday, I had another delegation meeting for the NCNY delegation to General Conference . The UM Reporter blog has a good set of interesting articles out right now about General Conference. John over at Locusts & Honey has a conversation going about this pastoral letter from Foundry UMC . And I've got General Conference and our future as a denomination on my mind and in my heart. At our delegation meeting, we talked about the Pre-General Conference Briefing that delegation heads attended last month. They reported back about church leaders really hoping that we can focus on ministry concerns at General Conference, specifically "four areas of focus: developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world; creating "new places for new generations" by starting new churches and renewing existing ones; engaging in ministry with the poor; and fighting the killer diseases of poverty such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS." I would love if Gene

Free Concert: "Grateful"

Just a quick last minute invite for all of you New Jersey readers: we're having a free concert at Franklin Lakes UMC tomorrow night ( Saturday, the 16th, at 7pm .) Richard Koons , a professional actor/musician and member of FLUMC is performing a concert titled, "Grateful," reflecting on his spiritual journey. He'll sing music that has been meaningful to him over the years - traditional hymns, contemporary praise music, and other selections. If you're in the area, think about stopping by!

Question: Communion Study

Question: Every Lent, I lead a small study/communion service with my congregation. We meet in a small group, celebrate communion with a short study-service lesson, and then enjoy a meal of soup and bread together. This will be my first round teaching this style of study/service in my new appointment. In the past, I've focused on communion, prayer, etc., and this year again the focus will be communion. Usually, I spend one week talking about the parts of the communion liturgy, one week focusing on scripture texts related to our practice of communion, another celebrating a Wesleyan Love Feast. If you were teaching about communion in a small group worship setting, what topics might you cover?

Greater New Jersey Bloggers

Since I now enjoy relationship with two annual conferences, in addition to my NCNY bloggers list, I'm also adding a list of bloggers from the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the UMC. If you're a GNJ blogger, let me know, and I'll add you to my list. Here's who I know of so far: Chris Heckert - Chris is a clergy member of GNJUMC, and Assistant General Secretary for the Advance at GBGM, blogs here about GBGM trips, mission stories, etc. Joe Tiedemann - Joe pastors two churches, a long-standing church and a church-plant congregation. He blogs at Life in the Way . Eric Helms, associate pastor at Grace UMC in Wyckoff, just started a blog, Eric's Blog . Greg Milinovich, associate pastor at Clinton UMC blogs at agentorange (where you'll also discover that Greg's an artist - who knew?) ***updated to add:*** Pastor Blue Jeans, another Greater NJ clergyperson, blogs at Forever in Blue Jeans . If you know of other GNJ bloggers, let me know and I'll add

Reflections: Bishop's Convocation - Part II

Okay, here’s the second part of my reflections on the Bishop’s Convocation. Our second keynote was Leonard Sweet . Sweet is a professor of Evangelism at Drew (among, of course, other things), and so I had him for class in seminary, and had his books as part of my coursework in various other classes at Drew, and, and… I say this to be up front and say I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this session because I felt that I’d already heard what he had to say. I certainly think he has some good ideas, creative ideas, and he has a way of presenting his ideas that is unique, but beyond that, I wasn’t always sure in my classroom experience that we were coming from the same place. I guess that’s ok too. Anyway, here are some of my notes, with highlights of ideas that I found more compelling. EPIC – this is a concept Sweet’s been talking about for a long time. Worship, church life that is Experiential, Participatory, Image Rich, Connective. We’re trained: Rational, Logical/Linear, Repres

Reflections: Bishop's Convocation - Part 1

Finally, a chance to blog about the Bishop's Convocation . The theme of the event was "In the Spirit of Fellowship," and on that note, Bishop Devadhar invited my colleagues Joe Tiedemann , Chris Heckert and me to present a workshop on blogging and how blogging can be used to create/enhance/nurture community. This is the second time I've taught a workshop on blogging, and I find it an interesting experience. Particularly for older people (clergy in this case), I find there is still a bit of fear/anxiety when it comes to using the computer/internet, etc. But once you walk people through how very simple it is to read and start a blog, people become hopeful and full of ideas about what they might do, how they might connect via blogging. Question: I've been asked to retool my workshop to present to youth next week. Actually, I feel like most young people will know virtually everything I've presented in my other workshops. What would you say in a workshop about blo