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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ask the Matriarch

Check this space next week for Ask the Matriarch! Gallycat is traveling and never got to a place where posting was possible. Don't forget to send us questions for future weeks!!

The Last Thursday Meet n' Greet

That's right folks, beginning 9/4 this feature will be on Mondays sharing the spotlight with the Monday Mission. Please keep on sending your great mission ideas to:

And now to greet (beginning Monday we shall meet too!)

Kindom Musings (we sure do a lot of musing in this webring). In her own words: I am a Church of the Brethren pastor in my thirties. While I love what I do, I started out with plans to be a veterinarian. God has a great sense of humor, and I wound up in ministry instead. However, my sojourn into veterinary science did make me a vegetarian, and a love of animals. (We have two cats and a dog at home -- only a small petting zoo!) My husband is also ordained, and we have two young children. My husband keeps me up to date on baseball trivia, and my children keep me giggling. All in all, it makes for a well-rounded life. I was born in Pennsylvania, moved several times for school and work, and have recently returned to my home state. On the Myers-Briggs scale, I'm an INFP.

In My Lifetime. In her own words: I believe all things are possible and that God's goodness and generosity is unlimited. I am tired of hearing folks say that this or that cannot happen in my lifetime. The time for justice, compassion and reconciliation is now.

epilegomai: i am called. From the blog: Epilegomai means to be called in biblical greek. This is the blog of someone called to be a disciple of Jesus. To me, a "disciple" is in essence one who is open and willing to learn. in that spirit, these are my musings, meditations, and reflections on spirituality, scripture, life, and God. I am a graduate student in a medium-sized Jesuit college studying Mental Health Counseling and Pastoral Ministry. I hope to one day work as a spiritually based therapist and campus minister for college students.

the vicar of hogsmeade. In her own words: A Clergywoman, single mom, and PhD student. Is that enough?
And from her first post: The RevGalPalsBlog had a Friday Five about musicals. The Bonus question was "favorite part you've ever played/sung." I started this blog just to answer that question.
I was Mark in Celebrate Life. Mark is the disciple who also plays Jesus. In a Southern Baptist church this girl got to be Mark and Jesus. Maybe it was a sign of things to come.

Whodathunk!? Our webring begat a blog!

SALT for the spirit. In her own words (abbreviated version): I am... wife of Dennis; mother of The Love-Bug aka Little Love aka The Bug, the heart of my own heart, joy of my life, far more than I ever prayed for because my mind could never conceive of such a wonderfully intricate and delightful little being; granddaughter of grandparents who taught me to love fiercely and forgive freely; daughter of two amazing people who have devoted themselves to their children and family and have continued to figure out ways to love each other; sister of three; friend of some hilarious people; pastor of a small congregation of good folks who still love quickly
I did her no justice with my editing. You must go and see her descriptions of the people in her life!

spiritual motion blog. From the blog: A place to find poems, songs/hymns, ideas, questions, plus. The spirit moves us to act and grow and move forward. I am an encourager; into prayer remembering God won't fix what we broke, but will work with us. I like to colour outside the lines...Jesus did too!

Connections: Dialogue of God and Humanity. Not much to go on here. Any comments? (from reverend mommy: I got it.) From a previous intro in a another place and time with Connections: I am an out of the box, idealistic, dreamer with a traditional flair that firmly believes God can do anything and provides perfect opportunities for each of us to become more than conquers through Christ. I have three wonderful children (all under the age of 5) and an awesome and beautiful wife, who are all helping me to rediscover laughter and fun in life. I find beauty in the challenge of discovering God’s grace in the steps I take as I journey through life with God. I cherish every comment I get back. Every time I get a comment, I thank God for the opportunity to be read.

Star Light, Star Bright. Just to make sure you are paying attention... I run a growing non-profit for exotic dancers, called Star Light Ministries, Inc. Our mission is to let every dancer know that she is valuable and loved by God.
Welcome one and all and now revgalblogpals please kindly go
and greet these kind folks!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday Festival - Always Potluck!

I've been a pastor for twenty years and one of my favorite memories is the time when the church women made "Potluck Soup." Started off with beef broth and everyone who came to the dinner brought something with them to add to the pot. It looked strange, but tasted wonderful! It was made with love!

Today's Festival reminds me of that Potluck Soup: A variety of ingredients, looking strange, but all stirred together with love - ours and God's love. On to the Nominations:

Stained Glass Ceiling: St. John's Rev Abi adds a touch of tartness as she recommends reading The Vicar of Hogsmede, Longing for Home, Reverend Mommy and herself as folks with links to the "Stained Glass Ceiling."

Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs: Blame it on St. Casserole, she got the whole Steve Colbert "On Notice" signage started. But then Psaltery got her "On Notice" Sign up; Jeff at Philosophy over Coffee also has put us on Notice. Sarcastic Lutheran has a "On Notice" sign too.

Kittenish Kuteness: The Psalmist at The Psaltery made a mistake and allowed her two cats; Rosie & Jenny, Singers Extraordinaire , blog what a pair! and I thought Fish and Whistle were the blogginest cats! Inner Dorothy needs some advise as to what to do about her cat and her carpet, before the cat becomes carpet. PPB at Ice Floe has a new kitten, and has several posts about his cuteness and antics (We have a black & white poly ourselves!) . The Guest Bloggers over at St. Casserole have a birthday with pictures to prove it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WHISTLE & FISH!!! Cat cookies for everyone!

Fashion,Style & Entertaining: Please don't forget to go see the Before and After pictures at Blanket in the Grove. It is quite the contrast! Our own Musings Out of the Fog (seminary fog that is,) has gone to work for Ann Taylor. Hey maybe we are going to have our own "beauty tips or dressing tips for ministers" person. Becky at Monday Morning Letters gives all the necessary directions including recipes and a prayer for a slumber party.

Advice, Please: The Mild Mannered Blogger is trying to figure out how to reach out to the parents that just drop their kids off at church and leave. Got any ideas? Musings of MicahGirl ask the overall question "how does one discern their call?"Faith Musings says,"I am interested to hear what others have to share about explaining evil to a four year old."

Life Happens: LutheranChik can always be counted on to add some spice: "Cheesy TV led to my thinking about an old (un-super) hero of mine last week, at my place ... and I also inventoried what I did and didn't do this summer." Metacentricities is creating a new life for herself, which means some major changes and gives her testimony. In My Lifetime has a very nice post on praying and what her daily prayer is. His Unfinished Work blogs about the dryness of land from lack of rain and compares that to the dryness she feels inside herself.Revem is back. She is thankful for the "prayers and prods" over the last few months and delivers on some promised pictures. And remember - they're coming into spring "down under" as we fade into fall. G'day, Em!

Pink Shoes wants to be funny, honey, and unwhiney .Now we know that are a lot of different moods we can have, and different state of minds, but Swandive writes about an unusual state of mind she calls the Peanut Butter State of mind. Poor Mad Peter tells us we all need affirmation so go and affirm him as well.Anything Songbird writes is worth the read, but this one deserves a read as she blogs about the loss of her voice! Kirstin at Barefoot and Laughing talks about some healing she has been going through that many of us can relate to. In the Open Space speaks about her struggles and coming to Jesus. You don't want to miss this!

Domestic Engineering: Net at Grace Happens (that's me!) needs a domestic goddess er engineer. Or a pastor's spouse who does housework. Don't we all? I'm jealous of Songbird's cleaning lady!Natty at Where to Now, God is in a cleaning frenzy due to PMS, and she likes it? Check out her new pair of Crocs!

Technology or Oops: Have you ever gone through changing your mailing address, and nothing you do works? Well Beth at Wide-Eyed and Laughing shows us how. You have to include this other post by Starving Artist as it is every preachers' worst nightmare!!!!!She also wrote this about dead/notdead about the church.Check out Maggie Dawn's God's i Pod posts.

Bits & Pieces: The Quixotic Pastor writes about the regional moo sounds and Pluto. I don't know what's up, but Sister Christer has a thing going with three nuns and a cow, very funny pictures.There have been spookey cultish things going on involving "Austin Power" as sighted by Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom; just a little laughter!

Life in Crystal Cathedrals: Amy at Talk to the Preacher describes a stituation in her church that she calls "liturgical bribery." Faith Musing stepped away from her Sabbath blogging to write about her anger over an injustice where she lives. The Sojourner's journey blogs about our primary task is to hear the Gospel. Stacey at Almond Branch blogs about an issue we all seem to deal with whether in the church, or work or club - its about Leadership.Katherine at Any Day a Beautiful Change has a good sermon here.

Congratulations are in Order: You will want to go over to congratulate Smallest Angel on the birth of her son Jonah! (I'm very partial to that name!) Ordinary Time has a post on Summer Winding down with the end of CPE and 12 days away from her wedding.

Lots of nominations this week makes for an interesting combination! Enjoy and toss me a crusty roll, will ya? Oh, and pass the butter, please. Who's saying grace?

Be blessed, y'all!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

Good morning, friends!

I'm getting an earlier start this week to posting. No guarantees that the quality of the post will be different, though.

I've been concentrating on the gospel lesson for this week, Jesus' little talk about clean and unclean, using table manners as his illustration.

When I spent some time in China about seven years ago I was one of the few people in our group who did not eat street food. I was afraid, you see, to get travelers's stomach half way around the world. This is very ironic, since I was the member of the group whose responsibility it was to acquire and maintain the first aid and OTC medicine bag, as the only person with any rudimentary medical training. (I was a certified medical assistant in my previous life.)

The others were happily eating steamed buns, grilled meats, and other assorted vendor-offered delicacies, but I was too afraid. I think that in this regard, I was the typical "ugly American" tourist.

It wasn't that I was afraid of the food itself, but of the difference in sanitation. I just never felt as if I knew where the vendors' hands had been, or maybe it is that I knew very well where they probably had been.

We are so delicate, so protected in our isolated little culture. We seem to want things clean and recognizable--even in our churches. We seem to want things sanitized for our protection, so that we need never see or touch or taste anything that is not 100% safe.

I wonder what we're missing out on--both in terms of what experiences of the divine we have shut ourselves off from, and what secret spiritual "viruses" have we allowed to lurk in our hearts unnoticed while we are out there making sure our churches are "pure"?

Those are my ramblings this early Tuesday morning. What are your thoughts for this homiletical week?

Monday, August 28, 2006

RevGal BlogPal Announcements!


Two major housekeeping announcements:

I. WEDNESDAY FESTIVAL: This dandy feature is the closest we now have to what we used to call a "round-up."

Some things are the same: Nominations of others' writing and your own are most welcome. Also, entries of any age (era) are welcome. This is a great place to share some of your more venerable work! Be sure that entries for the week are summarized and sent with the appropriate URL to no later than midnight on Monday. (Hey-that's today!)
There is one major change: We are doing away with the weekly categories, and you may nominate any topic for any week, as long as it's on your blog or another RGBP ring member's. Think about it this way: Potluck Every Week!
One last thing: We are looking for another Festivaller to help with editing and compiling of entries. This fun task would come around once every two months; it takes approximately 1/2 hour to an hour each time. Please respond to if you are interested.

II. REVGALBLOGPAL INC., MEMBERSHIP: Please go to this post to review the info on becoming a member of the corporation, and remember that no member of the webring is required to join the corp. However, filing for incorporation, filing for non-profit status, opening a bank account and getting the required minimum number of checks and getting our own domain cost money, and the folks who have fronted those funds need to be reimbursed.

We now have eight paid memberships. We know many of you have been on vacation and otherwise busy, but if you are planning to join, now is the time! Soon we hope to have a stable membership and later in the fall, vote on our first slate of permanent officers.

Membership cost: Regular member: $25/year; full-time seminarian: $10/year; member or postulant of a religious order with a lifelong vow of poverty: no charge.

To join: Please send an email to, requesting an application form. We will return mail you the app form with address for checks. You may submit the form electronically or via mail with your check. US members are requested to send paper checks or money orders; international members should email the above address and request instructions on paying via Paypal.

Questions? Please email!

Your temporary Board of Directors: Songbird, Quotidian Grace, Mary Beth

Monday Mission Moment

Today's Mission Moment comes from Jan at A Church for Starving Artists. In September the Monday Mission Moment will become the Monthly Mission Moment and will be posted the third Monday of every month. You can still send your suggestions for mission posts by clicking the Mission Moment button on the sidebar.

Several years ago, a church member who had recently served dinner at a local shelter commented "Wouldn't it be great to teach the residents of that shelter job skills so they could sustain themselves in a home with a job, etc." The whole "teach a person to fish" idea.

She was a computer science major who drew up a plan to open a computer lab in our church building for low income residents. The elders voted to give her a chunk of money (the first miracle) and several rooms. She quit her regular job and now -- five years later -- we have an award-winning mission that involves:
- adult students invited via the reduced-lunch list in schools (they are parents of reduced-lunch kids in local public schools)
- 6 months of computer and employment skills and mentoring for $100 staffed by over 60 volunteers
- presentation of computers six weeks into the program to take home and keep, (which means that their children now have computers for homework, etc.)
- graduation at the end of the course in what has become the most inspiring event in the life of our congregation. Better than Easter. More inspiring than ordination.

Students come from many countries and arrive with no skills but leave with jobs, dental benefits, etc. It is awesome. Check it out at:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sunday Prayer

For our Sunday Prayer this week, I have taken an excerpt of the newly approved "Song of Faith" of the United Church of Canada (Copyright 2006). I will be sharing the full document on my blog soon. "A Song of Faith" does not replace "A New Creed" - rather it expands A New Creed both poetically and theologically. It is not strict doctrine for the UCCan, but rather stands as authentically as possible as our shared Song of Faith for this time in history.

...We sing of God the Spirit,
faithful and untameable,
who is creatively and redemptively active in the world.

The Spirit challenges us to celebrate the holy
not only in what is familiar,
but also in that which seems foreign.

We sing of the Spirit,
who speaks our prayers of deepest longing
and enfolds our concerns and confessions,
transforming us and the world.

We offer worship
as an outpouring of gratitude and awe
and a practice of opening ourselves
to God's still, small voice of comfort,
to God's rushing whirlwind of challenge.

Through word, music, art, and sacrament,
in community, and in solitude,
God changes our lives, our relationships, our world.
We sing with trust...


*Don't forget to nominate yourself or someone else for the RevGal Wednesday Festival. This week's theme is Potluck!!

11th Hour Preacher Party

Hello! Welcome! Just step over the rummage (we're having a Yard Sale today) and come right in! Coffee is on, and I'm about to make a run to Dunkin' Donuts. What would you prefer? Muffins? Bagels? Donuts?

My sermon is underway, in the sense that it has stories about my trip, a concept about the presentation of the passage from Ephesians and a title. But the hardest parts to write are not written, and that will have to come later today.

Come up to my garret office, above the hue and cry of the Yard Sale, and we'll get writing together. What would you like me to put on the stereo?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Prizes! Prizes!

It is now time to reveal the meanings of the terms from our Brilliantly British Friday Five from last week and to award prizes for creativity.

Adverse Camber -- this was a roadsign seen as we tooled around on country roads with Kathryn, and it is a warning that the angle of the road will not be what you would expect.

Butts Wynd -- street sign seen in St. Andrews, Scotland, in a wide alleyway between two of the major streets in town, signifying that the alley was once used for archery.

Plague Church -- After the plague, people thought it was dangerous to live in the existing villages, so they would move away a bit and rebuild. They might tear down the old houses, but not the church. A Plague Church is found in the middle of a field, at a distance from the new village.

Free House -- a pub that is not owned by the brewery.

Mind the Gap -- a warning to watch your step as you get on or off the Tube. You can find this on a t-shirt, and my son brought one home.

As you may recall, Kathryn supplied us with four lovely prizes. To collect, winners will need to send me an address. If you are concerned about anonymity, I suppose I could just keep them.


Best All Around goes to The Vicar of Hogsmeade (nice blog name, too!), who will receive a lovely package of notes from Kathryn's church, St. M's.

Above and Beyond Prize goes to Rainbow Pastor, a non-Brit who thought up clever responses despite knowing what the terms really meant. She will receive a lovely booklet describing the history of St. M's.

For her brilliant definition of Adverse Camber, Carmen wins a copy of Kathyrn's Diocesan Magazine.

And finally, though all her efforts were good, take a special look at mid-life rookie's definition of Plague Church, for which she wins the highly coveted issue of the parish magazine for St. M's.

Thank you to everyone who played! To collect your prize, shoot me an e-mail.

Back to School Friday Five

My late mother-in-law thought of September as the “real” New Year because of the number of programs and classes starting. By Labor Day, school is back in session for most of us in the U.S., although there is great variation by region (my children don't return until Sept. 7th!). To mark this, we bring you the Back to School Friday Five.

1. What is your earliest memory of school?

2. Who was a favorite teacher in your early education?

3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now?

4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned.

5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share?

Prizes for the Brilliantly British Friday Five will be announced late this evening. Thanks to Cathy for her suggestions on today’s topic. As always, let us know in the comments if you play, and link directly to your blog if possible. The code is:
[a href=http://www.url-goes-here]what you want the link to say[/a]
Simply substitute <> for []

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ask the Matriarch: Being Grounded, Being Imperfect

I have been working as a College Chaplain for a year now but I was just ordained. Suddenly, ministry seems more real and much more frightening. My greatest fear is that upon ordination suddenly my "congregation" is going to expect me to have the collective wisdom of a 2000-year-old religion at my fingertips, and the lifestyle of a "perfect" Christian, to boot. So my question is, How do you stay grounded? By which I mean, how do you find a place between the savior complex and the complete failure complex from which you can continue to learn what it means to be human and still offer guidance to others who may want to see you as either the perfect saint or a complete sinner? --The Newly Reverend K

First, notes from Peripatetic Polar Bear: You ask the hard questions. I have the following for you. First, relax---most colleges with whom I am familiar would run screaming in the other direction if they thought you had the collective wisdom of 2000 years at your fingertips. Colleges are big fans of the hermeneutic of suspicion!

How do you find that perfect balance? Here are some things that have worked for me.
  1. Remember where you come from. Keep up your friendships with those who remember you from waaaaaaaaaaaaay back before you became eligible for the clergy parking places at the hospital. Divinity school/seminary friends are good for this, as are those friends that are from outside the church. These folks will help you keep it real. Be sure, though, that you make it a priority to nurture these relationships. Take every single day off coming to you. Leave town. If you have to choose between gas for roadtrips and food, go for the gas. (Okay, I'm maybe exaggerating a little bit there.) Cultivate your hobbies that don't involve religion! (Editor's Note: I was extremely tickled to find that Newly Reverend K and I have much in common on this front!)
  2. Make continuing education a second priority. Most college chaplains don't get the same amount of continuing education money as pastors do (grr), but don't let lack of funds keep you from CE events. Find the cheap ones, Apply for scholarships (almost every group has scholarships for minimally salaried people--and most chaplains are minimally salaried), go to the nearby ones, use your own funds (tax-deductible!), but don't skip! At continuing education events, you will find a community of other pastors who will challenge you and support you. Again, a place to keep it real.

The greatest gift you can give your students is the gift of your imperfect but lovely self. Let your faith shine, and your doubts, your power, and your foibles. You have the best job in the world. And you are exactly what they need.

And RevAbi offers... What great questions. Congratulations on now being ordained. You have answered some of your own questions by realizing that people in our congregations do expect us to be perfect, have all the answers, and that there are those who are just waiting for the moment we fail, sin or fall. Not all, but some. Knowing that will serve you well, but don't let that rule you.

I think the next step is to ask yourself do I have a tendancy to be a "savior"? Do I expect myself to be a "savior"? Was I the "savior" in my family? Answering those helps one be aware of ourselves as Pastors. But also you need to ask the same of yourself of being an "absolute failure." And do you expect yourself to know all the answers as well or was it expected of you? You might want to do this with a spiritual director, mentor, pastoral counselor or just a trusted someone who knows you well.

We know in our head that we are not perfect saints or absolute failures, but we can certainly feel that way. If it makes you feel any better, I still struggle with those expectations I put on myself, and the feelings. I just make sure I have someone to struggle with me, and help me with them.

It is the same as being expected to know the answers to every darn question. I just don't think I can know everything, but I sure feel my anxiety when someone starts asking me something. Here is what I have learned to do:
  • I congratulate them for seeking to know and having the questions.
  • I ask them what do they think; what have they come up with already?
  • I might point them in the direction of some resources they can do more research for themselves.
  • I also, have had occasion to say, "I don't know, but that's a good question. Let me do some research and get back with you." Or, "You know, that is just one of those unanswerable questions; why don't we struggle with this together. That way you are not totally responsible—but they are, and learning to be responsible for what they think become part of their journey and spiritual walk.

Just think you are entering a new phase of your development too. It is healthy you are afraid and have so many questions. That is part of the spiritual walk and journey. You are right on target, stay with your feelings, and your questions. Read James Fowler (see below). And get someone to walk with you down this path you are on, someone you can trust.

Abi's Reading Room James W. Fowler's relevant books:
  • Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development
  • Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian
  • Faith Development and Pastoral Care

Additional Reading:

There are also a variety of theories on Faith Development other than James Fowler's: Check out Faith Development Theories

And last, definitely not least:

Ask the Matriarch: A First Call

Peripatetic Polar Bear and RevAbi wrote this week's answers—I merely stitched them together.

Teri of Clever Title Here writes:

I am about to accept my first call as an Associate Pastor. Do you have any tips for negotiating the salary package, things to watch out for in a new church, transitioning from student (or missionary, in my case) to pastor, moving, etc?

Congratulations on having your first call as an Associate Pastor. These are great questions that all of us need to be asking ourselves when we are appointed, get a call, or decide to move up.

When it comes to salary, look at the big picture
For starters, negotiating the salary package may not be as involved as you think. Unlike businesses, churches don't have as much wiggle room for negotiating in money matters. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Tax savings and financial security:One area where you can negotiate financially is in how much money is housing allowance, and how much is salary. Since housing allowance is untaxed, do not underestimate your housing costs! Be sure to talk to a tax planner or an accountant, who can help you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your budding relationship with the IRS in your new role. Check with your denomination's pension advisor and insurance agent. PPB knows others that have negotiated clothing allowances and book allowances in exchange for less salary—less taxes, again—and Abi points out that you can also negotiate continuing education funds (sometimes it's required).
  • Getting there: Are they required to pay for moving expenses? Find out how much relocation allowance is available, if any.
  • Job description, schedule and leave policy: Some of the other areas that you'll want clear—up front—are study leave, study leave money, days off, sundays off, expectations for how much work is in the office and how much can be flex. Be sure you get a clear job definition with the hours you're expected to work and your responsibilites spelled out. Get it in writing, too—for instance, your salary has to be in writing for tax purposes, but sometimes churches just want to keep this stuff verbal and tell you not to worry about it—but then they start demanding more of you. No, no, no! And watch out for the catch-all "other duties as assigned." Does that mean the Senior Pastor can put on you anything, at anytime? How much authority will you have, and how much independence?
  • Environment and supplies: Will you have an office? What do you require or need to fulfill your responsibilities as Associate Pastor? Secretarial help? A budget for your ministry areas? Will you do your own copying? etc. These kinds of questions can be addressed at this time. Also, needed repairs to a manse should be agreed to ahead of time, as well as anything that needs done to an office. (PPB assumed that since her office had no chair, one would be didn't.)

How to negotiate (and not lose the farm)
When it comes time to actually negotiate, here are PPB's recommendations.
  • Compare apples with apples. Don't ask for 3 pigs and a duck because the Episcopalians (Lutherans, Methodists, etc.) in your town are paying 3 pigs and a duck. Find out what the going salary is for your denomination and your region. Salaries vary widely by region and by denomination. Find out, also, your judicatory's minimum standards, if there are any.
  • Don't ask for everything at once. Have a backup plan. Give them a chance to say yes. So, if the offer is 2 pigs and a rooster, and you were hoping for a chicken also, ask for the chicken, but if the answer to the chicken is no, then ask for something you do want that doesn't cost them anything (or very little). "Could I take 2 pigs in salary and pull a rooster out for a book allowance? Could I have a quarterly retreat day?"

Preparing for the transition
PPB offers three suggestions:
  1. Find more experienced folks for advising. "In my case," she writes, "that meant folks outside my geographic region because I was overly sensitive about my lack of practical knowledge (practicality was not the strong suit of my theological education). I went to continuing ed events where I knew I would find wise souls. Scholarships are often available for new or underpaid ministers. If you go to events where you are one of only a handful of newbies, I think you'll find you get lots of support, attention (me loves attention), and wisdom."
  2. Stay in touch with your seminary friends. They're in the same boat, and are a good place for serious whining. ("My graduating class has an electronic newsletter that is still going strong--only now it's in larger print!" she writes.)
  3. Start a blog. Oh, wait--you have! See, you're already ahead of the game!

Helpful links and required reading
Abi, our ever helpful matriarchal book- and link-finder, offers these sites and book titles.

  • Ministry is a High Calling (Aim Low): Reflections of a Parish Novice by Kurt R. Schuermann
  • Surviving Your First Year as Pastor(What Seminary Couln't Teach You) by Angie Best-Boss
  • Effective Ministry as an Associate Pastor by Robert Radcliff (Abi notes that it's kind of male-centric, but otherwise fine.)

Hello.... is it you I've been Searching for...

Good Lawdy!!! Our 'gatekeeper' goes on vacation for a week and when she gets back THERE IS A QUEUE formed outside the Revgalblogpal Welcome Wagon!

Chartreuse Ova From the blog: twisted lamentations, psalms, parables and ramblings of a Christian mommy. I was called to motherhood a bit later in life than most moms and I love it! Recently, I've begun to hear the echo of an earlier call. Only it is not growing more distant, but louder each day.

The Quixotic Pastor From the blog: Native Texan lesbian anglo female, enneagram 5, Myers-Briggs INFP last time I tested, partnered for 7 years and counting with my dear heart whom I dearly love and who dearly loves me. Originally ordained in the United Methodist Church, I am now a pastor in the Metropolitan Community Churches, the first Christian denomination to my knowledge not to only welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, but to affirm them as a part of God's intention for creation. I serve two pulpits in Mid-Michigan. DH and I have two dogs and are the domestic staff for two cats.

Sean From the blog: I'm the minister of South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City, Utah. I've been blogging for about three years, first anonymously, and then here. I have a partner and two teenagers, a passion for poetry, and an affinity for process theology and thought.

Sojourner's Journey From the blog: I’m on a journey to know more about Christ. Come join me as I seek Biblical truth. Grow with me as I allow Christ to mold and shape me into His image. Let’s experience life to the fullest, as God intended! I’m only visiting on planet Earth, my real home is in heaven…and one day, I’ll head for my mansion in the sky!

The Ear of Your Heart From the blog: The adventures of a canonical novice in a Benedictine monastery out in the boonies. This is merely my thoughts and experiences as I journey towards first monastic profession. I'm 26 and starting my third year in community. I'm studying the vows and learning the organ at the moment.

Mild Mannered Blogger From the blog: a young, mild-mannered blogger and his alter-ego--as a very new (solo) pastor--working together to find a faith and a church that might take root and grow in public spaces, in marketplaces, in dailynesses, between elections and the evening news...wherever we actually live and work and love and fall down.
and we're both thankful for the company...

News from the Wilderness From the blog: From a little corner of northwesternPennsylvania, this blog is a collection of thoughts about Art, Prayer and what is means to play hide and seek with God, then found. My teaching career is winding down after 30 plus years. Children are grown. I am feeling compelled to pursue another direction, the thoughts of selling the house and moving to land of pink flamingos is not in my future. I am pursuing work full time in the sacred arena, after having rejected organized religion in my youth. It draws me back in a rediscovery of what it means to be human, live in community and seek God together, through more mature eyes.

The Kitchen Door From the blog: There was this cheerleader who decided to become an Episcopal priest... Nope, not just a silly joke. Stay tuned as we see where discernment leads me.

Be sure to check them all out and give them a nice welcome. When you are done introducing yourself to them and you think we don't have enough diversity here at the revgals then please lodge your complaint at this website:

Have a great day everyone!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

While You're Sampling the Potato Salad...

...a note that we are looking both for Matriarchs -- RevGalBlogPals with some "chops" in ministry who are willing to help mentor others -- as well as for more questions about ministry to which our present team of Matriarchs can apply their wisdom and experience. Dealing with difficult people in your parish? Don't know your pyx from your purificator? Want to find out how to fix the church boiler with duct tape and piano wire? Ask the Matriarchs!

And...I forgot to mention this in the potluck post below...if you would like to nominate a blog post of your own or another RevGalBlogPal for inclusion in our roundup this week, please add that link to the "Comments" section.

Wednesday Festival Potluck: First Pass!

This week's Wednesday Festival nominations were a bit thin, so I began my own spelunking expedition through our blogs -- and what a groaning board we have created! So much life and thought and creativity out there.

Unfortunately, 'round about the C's on the blogroll list last night, the list suddenly disappeared from the RevGals' sidebar. Maybe that was the Universe telling me to go to bed. But here is a very quick preliminary stroll down the first stretch of the RevGals' blog buffet, with more hot dishes and Jello salads to appear on the table later today:

Amy at Faith Musing , inspired by theologian Marva Dawn, ponders the theology of food, and asks the question: Can we really feast if we don't know how to fast?

Quotidian Grace, whose daughter is getting married soon, attends a very meaningful shower , in very appropriate weather.

Look out, Peter Ostroushko! Tripp is out to become a mando maestro , thanks to a canny mandolin teacher.

It sounds a little like a tale from Lake Wobegon...RevAbi relates a church picnic gone wrong .

Jeff at Philosophy Over Coffee tells us what he learned over summer vacation.

Pilgrimscrybe is seeking book recommendations for a televised book club with a Christian perspective.

Erin at Construction Time Again blogs about the scary-cool phenomenon of her young daughter growing into her own person, while on a related note Sally at Eternal Echoes muses on the challenges of parenting older children.

Got writer's block? Then you'll relate: Jan at asks for prayers for a friend in the throes of dissertation.

I have to go to work now (and I mean RIGHT NOW)...but stop back this evening for more stops on our traveling feast!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: better late than never edition

Dear friends, I started to post this earlier, then my laptop died, so here I am once again.

Boldness. That's what leaps off the page at me when I read the Ephesians passage for this Sunday. The author asks for boldness to speak the mystery of the gospel.

We see so many outrageous claims made every day by the culture: "Buy this (car, beer, cologne, lipstick) and it'll make you irresitable to whomever you're trying to attract!" I remember back in high school, when the kid running for Student Council President promised pizza for lunch every day, and a soda machine that dispensed Mountain Dew for free--anything to get elected.

The culture has become immune to outrageous claims. How then are we to make the bold and outrageous claim of the gospel?

This is the question I am pondering as I prepare for the coming Sunday. How about you?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Seeds of Hope Garden

Today’s Mission Moment was submitted by our fellow RevGalBlogPal blogger, Brother Terry. His small (35 member) congregation in Cash, Arkansas established the “Seeds of Hope” garden in an 8,000 square foot plot of land behind his home. The project is unique because the produce is shared with everyone in the community, regardless of their financial status.

You can read more about Seeds of Hope here.

Brother Terry wrote this message about the garden:

"Not long after I answered the call to preach in Cash, the Lord put a burden on my heart to reach out to those in our community who are trapped in poverty. I began to research the subject and discovered that Generational Rural Poverty like we have in this area can only be defeated with a holistic approach. Monetary resources, medical care, education and hope are all ingredients in the recipe. Good nutrition is a prime ingredient. In the developing world, poverty is symbolized by starving children, in the rural South, it's obese kids. The poorer the family, the poorer the nutrition.

We began our "Seeds of Hope" garden as an effort to supplement people's diets and to educate them on how fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to prepare and good tasting.

It has been a wonderful blessing."

Keep sending us those ideas for Monday Mission Moment features! We’d love to hear from you—just click on the email link in the sidebar to Monday Mission Moment and tell us about a mission that is dear to your heart.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Prayer

Another prayer from the reverendmother archives... blessings to Sue (Inner Dorothy) as she finishes her work with the General Council.

Secure our steps, O God—
on rough terrain,
on shifting sands,
on fine, wide roads,
on narrow paths.
Make our footsteps firm.

Secure our steps, O God—
in the boardroom,
at the water cooler,
in the school yard,
in the checkout line.
Make our footsteps firm.

Secure our steps, O God—
chasing after deadlines,
trailing after toddlers,
scrambling toward the finish line,
clamoring for security.
Make our footsteps firm.

Secure our steps, O God—
pacing through hospitals,
wandering through the hurt,
tripping over the unforeseen,
meandering through the grief.
Make our footsteps firm.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another Saturday, Another Rockin' Preacher Party

I don't know about you all, but as we slide into the umpteenth "bread of life" Sunday, I'm in need of a little extra inspiration. So, for this week's party, I invite you to come with me to a virtual space modeled after the place where my muse seems to reside these days.

The table is set today in a one-room lodge set on a peaceful lakeshore. The coffee is brewing courtesy of one of those mysterious early risers, and I've set out bowls of granola and yogurt (THE camp breakfast). Because it's just too appropriate to pass up, there's also plenty of fresh bread. Pull up one of the rocking chairs, or curl up on the cushy seat that spans the entire windowed wall - or join me out on the porch and take in some fresh air from the swing or an Adirondack chair.

I'm working mostly from the Proverbs 9 passage, and talking about the various voices that call out to us from all corners, demanding things of us, versus the voice of Wisdom that offers us a place at the feast. Doesn't it feel like it should be a communion Sunday? God's blessing be with each of you as you ponder and prepare.

(And yes, I realize that this doesn't sound terribly "rockin'," despite the post title. I have confidence that we'll get there as the day goes on.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brilliantly British Friday Five

In the spirit of My Word! and Says You!, Songbird and Kathryn offer up a Brilliantly British Friday Five.

Below you will find five phrases seen or heard by Songbird on her British holiday. Use your imagination to define them. Points will be granted for humor. If you are one of our British RevGals, don't play, but please e-mail either Songbird or Kathryn to let us know of any definitions you find particularly amusing or inventive. There will be lovely prizes provided by Kathryn (Diocesan magazine, St. M's notelets, history of St. M's, parish magazine--come on Barbara Pym fans, I know you want that last one!!!), so do your best!

Adverse Camber

Butts Wynd

Plague Church

Free House

Mind the Gap

As always, please let us know in the comments if you play. A direct link to your blog will no doubt attract more visitors! Once again, the code is:
<a href=http://www.url-goes-here>what you want the link to say</a>

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ask the Matriarch: Grace and Toxicity

This week's theme: What do you do when grace fails you in dealing with difficult staff members and parishioners?

Editor's Note: Our questions this week have been edited for length and to ensure confidentiality. If your question is featured, I will make sure you receive your answers in full by tomorrow morning.

From Troubled:
How do I deal with two long-time members who are trying to cause problems? There have been harsh words—one told me that the reason our membership was declining was because I was a “terrible pastor," and they have accused the current leaders of “pushing” them out of the positions of leadership.

They've complained that they were no longer receiving emails about church activities, cc’d to the next person up in my church hierarchy. Turns out they had been removed, in error, from the email list. I responded that they had been returned to the list, thanking them for drawing it to our attention, and ignoring their threats of demanding mediation. Their conduct since then has included patronizing remarks from one of them implying that I was not qualified to be in my position, with a tone that says, “this is my church, not yours.”

I hate conflict. I don’t want to be a doormat, but I don’t want to allow my own anger and hurt at them to prevent my doing what I should be doing as their pastor. Yet even though I try to draw them in, it's always their way or the highway. I have tried to point out that the church is not theirs, nor mine, but God’s, which gets pooh-poohed by these two, who think that talk of faith is not practical enough.

I have dealt effectively with controllers before, but these two have me stymied.

Also this week, from Stumped:

I asked our one of our ministry directors to form a committee to select some new robes. She (and the committee) selected something I really, really don't like. I've given my opinion again, but they have decided to go ahead and purchase the awful robes.

She has been here much longer than I have—maybe 20 years? And when I got here several years ago, I was told that she had "quite a power base." She has sway over the administration council; they are all relatives or people with whom she's had a relationship a long time.

This is not the first time I have had issues with her. We occasionally (but continually) get into conflict, really, power struggles over all sorts of things. My first Sunday, I selected three particular hymns and had the secretary publish them in the bulletin. During the service, she told the congregation that there had been a typo and did three completely different hymns.

She once told me that she has no respect for "women who think they can be pastors." She only responds to me when I "act male"—that is, when I take out the Pastoral Authority and use it like a bat. I really don't like doing that—in fact, I can't stand it. What should I do?

Let's start by tackling both these questions at once, and then we'll look at some of the specific issues. One of the things you will all be tickled to note is that the matriarchs answer these separately and then I edit them together—but they totally agree on what should come first.

You're No. 1
Your first priority should be to take care of yourself—with double exclamation points!! As Susan from Sense and Nonsense notes, "Know yourself as a unique and beloved child of God. Have fun, laugh, play. Whatever it is you do to remind you that you're you, triple the time you spend at it."

RevAbi agrees in spades. "Do some things to relax, let go. Go to a spa, get a facial, manicure and a pedicure. Go see a movie, Go for a walk. Let go of the anxiety. Take your day off—in fact take two or more. Get yourself calmed down. Now repeat after me, this is not your problem, this is theirs. This is not your problem, this is theirs." Doing so will help you clear your head of anxiety and approach solving the problem with a fresh perspective.

Even you, as trusted counselors, may at times need your own trusted counselors—as RevAbi notes, a therapist, spiritual director, mentor or peer that you can pray with, meet with, support and be supported by, and be accountable to. Susan notes that your troublemakers are "hooking some of your stuff"—pushing your buttons, finding your hotspots. "Talk with someone who knows you well who can help you reflect on it and strategize ways for you to not get hooked.

And be sure to give the higher-ups (of whatever authority) the downlow. "Be sure your judicatory continues to know what is going on," writes Peripatetic Polar Bear. "This situation sounds like it will fizzle out, but if it doesn't, you don't want them blindsided (plus they may be able to offer you some much needed pastoral care!)"

"Have a heart to heart with your board, too," she writes. "There's no need to get nitty gritty with them about all the he-said, she-said, but let them know there's a conflict, the steps you've taken to try to mediate it, and that you expect it to fizzle out eventually. Enlist their help in damage control and in letting you know what's going on. Having been on a church board where a similar style of argument was going on, I was just relieved to have it in the open, to know the pastors knew, and to know they were responding. That way I could do rumor control."

Required Reading
This may well be something we tie into this column every week. Starting next week, I'll be sure to post links to the titles our Matriarchs recommend. Susan says to get your hands on Edwin Friedman's Generation to Generation. "The first couple of chapters have saved my sanity more than once," she writes.

One of Friedman's recommendations is to have complainers write everything down, she adds. "You don't have to read it. It's not good for your self-esteem. Just put it right in the trash. They feel like they're getting their message to you, and you get the satisfying "thunk" of that crap hitting the can."

"Also, I recommend Never Call Them Jerks by Arthur Paul Boers," Susan continues. "All the other books on antagonists or clergy-killers or well-intentioned dragons made me paranoid."

RevAbi, however, mentions those books exactly: Antagonists in the Church, How to identify and deal with Destructive Conflict by Kenneth C. Haugk and Clergy Killers: Guidance for Pastors and Congregations Under Attack by G. Lloyd Rediger. But the one she recommends most highly is Healthy Congregations by Peter Steinke.

Use Multiple Choice
For "Stumped," Peripatetic Polar Bear shares a good way of ensuring that bad choices aren't made: set them up with "3-year-old choices;" in other words, give them choices, but spell them out and keep them simple. "Arguing about the robes at this point at this point is futile," she writes, "but in the future, ask 'of these three robes, which do you select?'" By giving her this kind of choice, you can help her feel somewhat in control without giving her total control. But if there's ever any more questions about what music to choose, try this one, PPB suggests: "I'm torn between Don't Pick the Ugly Robes, Jesus and Jesus loves Women Pastors for a closing hymn next week, what do you think?"

Online Resources
Susan writes: "The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is an excellent resource for especially tough situations. They offer telephone counseling in addition to to excellent workshops and mediation for pastors and churches."

RevAbi offers these links:
Dealing With Difficult Employees
Dealing With Difficult People
Dealing With Two-Faced People in Your Church
Dealing With Pathological Antagonists

Keep Them in Prayer
Don't forget, notes PPB, to continue to hold them in prayer. "Reach out as needed, but disengage from the toxicity as much as possible," she writes. "It's about something other than you. They ate something that tasted bad, and now they're barfing and you just happen to be the person in front of them."

And meanwhile, we revgals and blogpals will send speedy prayers your way, for Stumped and Troubled, and anyone else who feels pulled in bad directions. If anyone else has something they'd like to share, feel free to comment.

Stay tuned next week, when we'll be examining first calls and staying grounded after ordainment!

Family, Friends and all that....Late late not quite Wednesday Festival!!!

This should have been posted yesterday and I apologies and grovel in my forgetfulness....I have no defense and will probably miss loads of people who deserve to be read, so if that includes you please leave a comment at the end of this post.

First and so important we continue praying for Cheesehead though the funeral is over there are still so many hard times ahead... Chelly posts a prayer for her here
More prayer is needed as Possible Water helps a family to mourn the loss of a child following a road accident

Moving is a theme at this time of year Pam has moved on to pastures new to take up her first position as a Probationer In the Methodist Church in the UK, drop by to encourage her in this new role.Peter is also on the move...Canticles has moved into a new role starting teaching at school, Mindy is moving into a new season of life as Bebo starts High School another child moving on, or should I say out- of his crib anyway is Gabriel... Go read Erins account

Emily is back at Seminary... Prayers for everyone starting their new year of study, that God will bless you richly at this time... Micah Girl is moving into a busy time too.
Lorna is chronicling some of her time away from home and family- also studying I am also preparing to go to Summer School for a week

Emily at Hazelnut reflections has found things the same as they ever were... Back from vacation and right into the thick of it...

On a personal note pop by and encourage Mary Beth- give her a hug....

Songbird has been on her travels and is sooo proud of Son No 1... I am sure she will have much more to tell...

Singing Owl posts about a juxtaposition in her family life... Smallest Angel also awaits a new arrival...

So there it is my O so short round up... Please please add a comment if I've missed you

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

If you have read the previous post about "Your prayers are coveted", then you know that Cheesehead has her hands, her heart, her soul, her mind, her body full with Pastoring her church, community and family. If you have not, you need to read it, plan to be part of the prayer community at the time in your time zone that is equal to the times listed for prayer. Also there is a link to Cheesehead's posts about what is going on, or you can click on Cheesehead in Paradise on the sidebar to catch up. I am praying, and I offered to post today's Lectionary leanings in her place.

Here are the lectionary readings for this week. If you are UMC, you will be using for the O. T. passage 1 Kings 2:10 - 3:14 ;for the Psalms you will be using Psalm 111; also you will start with verse 51 of John 6 instead of 53 and go through to 58. Let's see what else, oh yes, the Episcopals in our midst get to choose between Psalm 137 or Psalm 34:9-14. Okay that's the scriptures for this Sunday; Which way am I leaning, besides "leaning on the everlasting arms"? I am leaning on Paul with Ephesians 5:15-20. Why don't you all who have had your fill of bread come on over to the Ephesians passage, you could preach on Jesus transforming lives even those who have addictions, and how important a community of faith is in dealing with addictions. Anbody see an elephant in the living room? (That's one of the sayings from AA, and it has to do with denial.)

Now for those who are still new at preaching, which I tend to consider myself at, here are some resources that I have found helpful. Perhaps as you comment, you can add some others that you use whether on the web, books, etc. After I read the scripture, pray over them; I usually start with TextthisWeek, especially if I am unsure of which passage to preach from, or if I am planning ahead. Lots of good research, commentaries, and other links. I then go to Sermons & Sermon - Lectionary Resources to check out other resources, thoughts, ideas, and illustrations. I also go to Desperate for their Lectionary Discussion forums, you'll have to go to their sidebar to click on the passage you are preaching on to see the discussions.

But I would like to emphasize that we have two of our own revgalblogpals who have good websites on the lectionary passages, BethQuick and Dylan's Lectionary Blog. They are really good at what they do, and thought provoking.

Now, what are you preaching on Sunday?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Your Prayers are Coveted - 8/16/06, 1-5 p.m. CST

As many of you know, Cheesehead's church and community has been through a terrible, unimaginable tragedy. You can read about it here and in subsequent posts, if you haven't already.

The purpose of this post is to ask for the concentrated and fervent prayers of us all for CH and her community on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 16. The visitation will be from 1:00 - 3:00 Central Standard Time, and the funeral (with Cheesehead officiating) at 3:00.

Here's a resource for figuring out what time it will be where YOU are, at that time.

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy

Katrina Eleven Months Later

As we approach the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I am sharing a post from my friend and fellow blogger Shayne Newell (General Thoughts), who gave me permission to copy it for Monday Mission Moment. Shayne, an elder in my church and young mother of two lively toddler-age sons, spends her “spare” time as an attorney with a large Houston law firm. Recently, she volunteered her expertise to help some of the many Katrina victims in the Houston area, through the Houston Young Lawyers Association' and wrote about her experiences on her blog.

Shayne's experience reminds us not only that the consequences of that tragic event are still with us, but that there are lots of opportunities for mission and service with professional associations and community groups as well as from churches. Thank you, Shayne, for agreeing to share your experience with the RevGalBlogPals.

Katrina Evacuees -- Eleven Months Later

I spent yesterday morning volunteering at a housing clinic for Katrina and Rita evacuees who had been denied FEMA rental assistance. I admit that I went into it with some skepticism. It has been almost a year since the disasters. Surely these people could have gotten back on their feet enough to pay their own rent if they really wanted to. But work is somewhat slow, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some pro bono legal work. I didn't know anything about FEMA appeals before I got there, but I learned fast!

After getting some on-the-job training, I was sent to a huge room where attorneys were working one-on-one with people who had been denied assistance and wanted to file an appeal with FEMA. As it turns out, FEMA had been denying people aid for ridiculous reasons. For instance, a FEMA inspector was sent to survey the damage at a particular residence in New Orleans and denied rental assistance because the resident did not show up to meet the inspector. Of course, many of them are living in Houston and many other places throughout the country and are without the means to travel to New Orleans. Sometimes FEMA didn't give any reason at all for denying rental assistance.

The appeal papers take time to fill out and were confusing, even for me. I spent a good deal of time with a man named Troy. As he filled out his paperwork, I glanced at his birthday: February 29, 1976. He's 3 1/2 years younger than I am, but I never would have guessed it by his appearance. Incidentally, in non-leap years, he celebrates his birthday on both February 28 and March 1st. I told him that sounded like the best birthday of all -- 2 days long!

Anyway, in working with him, I learned that he evacuated New Orleans literally with nothing except the clothes on his back. He was extremely nice and good natured, despite all he had been through. He doesn't appear to have much education and his income is minimal. After FEMA cut off his rental assistance and he got evicted, his ex-girlfriend was gracious enough to take him in. She had also evacuated to Houston and her FEMA assistance is still in place. I didn't ask what kind of work he did, but he said that immediately before Hurricane Katrina was the "slow season" at work, so he wasn't bringing in much money. Other than a few months' rent, which was cut off in March, he has received no FEMA assistance other than the $2000 voucher that was distributed to all the evacuees last fall.

I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I left Houston right now with nothing except the clothes I'm wearing and whatever is in my purse (at the moment, that includes no cash except a few coins) and went to Tulsa. I don't know anyone there and wouldn't know where to start -- how do I find a place to live, furnish it, find transportation, feed myself, and find a job, particularly if I have no education and few vocational skills? In what circumstances would I find myself a year from now? I think it very likely that I'd be sitting down across the table from a volunteer attorney at a housing clinic sponsored by Legal Aid and asking for help.

It's easy for those of us unaffected by the hurricanes to feel that it's time that people moved on with their lives. I think that most of them are moving on, or trying to, but it can't happen on some artificial timetable. I pray that, as the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, those of us who have not had to suffer through this particular tragedy will be reminded that rebuilding an entire life (in Troy's case, 30 years) can't be accomplished in a matter of months.

Have a story or idea for Monday Mission Moment? PCIT and I need to hear from you. Email us by clicking on the Mission Moment link on the right sidebar of this blog.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Prayer

Reverendmother here (again), filling in for Sue as her church's General Council begins and the wonderful worship services she's been planning these many months become a reality.

A reminder: Be sure to nominate yourself or others for the Wednesday Festival. This week's topic: Life and All That: Family, Friends and Me, too! Check the sidebar under "Send us e-mail." Nominations are due Monday night. (And don't forget our ongoing features: Mission Moments and Ask the Matriarch. Let's hear from you!)

And now, a simple prayer of praise for today--gently used from the reverendmother archives...

You are…
Holy One, Rock and Redeemer,
Rabbi, Teacher, Son of God…
Word-made-flesh, God-with-us,
Messiah, Anointed, Lamb of God.

You are…
Beyond all names, surpassing all wisdom,
A joyful new song, a cry in the night…
Greater than knowledge, finer than riches,
Our clarity of hearing, our clearness of sight.

You are…
Desire of our hearts, center of our worship,
Strength for the journey, our emptiness filled…
An answer to our questions, a question for our answers,
God in three persons, mystery revealed.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Preachers, Party On!

Once again, I'm setting the table late, before I go to bed, so the early birds among us can get started before I plan to be awake (it's been a long, draining week here, and I'm going to get as much sleep as possible!)

Unlike Songbird last week, I'm all out of mojo...but I have java, and that's better than nothing. The coffee is set to go - love that timer! I've left cranberry nut muffins on the table. Pull up a chair and get comfy; it's likely to be a long day for some of us.

I'm tying together the Ephesians and John passages to talk about how we live together in Christian community. The idea that keeps running through my head is what eats at us vs. what we eat (bread of life), but I'm not sure where that will go. I'm eager to hear what you all are thinking!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Join the RevGalBlogPals, Incorporated!

Dear RevGalBlogPals,

The last year has been an amazing one! From a July 2005 comment-fest at St. Casserole's place, we have grown to a group of over 200 members, published two books of devotions, and donated approximately $120 to Heifer International (from our CafePress store proceeds) and approximately $1,100 to Gulf Coast hurricane relief. We have also forged amazing friendships and gained valuable spiritual friends and supporters.

Our future plans include more publications and applying for grant funding for some type of retreat or professional education events for members. In order to best accomplish these goals, we have determined that we need a more formal structure, and dues to cover the associated costs (including filing for incorporation and non-profit status).

As you may recall from Quotidian Grace’s post of July 22, RGBP recently incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Texas. We have a temporary Board of Directors: Songbird is President; Quotidian Grace is our VP and Secretary; and Mary Beth (I) am treasurer.

Annual dues are $25 USD, but those enrolled as full-time seminary students are eligible for a $10 USD student rate. We ask that those of you not in the USA obtain an international money order in US dollars for the dues. If an international money order is not feasible, please notify us via the email below.

IMPORTANT! As always, all who meet the guidelines are welcome to join, be, and remain members of the RevGals webring. There is no cost attached to membership in the WebRing. Membership in the corporation will allow you to vote in elections of permanent officers and participate in decisions regarding the group, but NO ONE IS REQUIRED TO JOIN!

To receive a membership application: please send an email to and put "request application" in the subject line. Please, also, sign your name or blog-name to the message - we want to be sure we are not sending this info out to spammers!

EDIT: We suggest that you fill out the application on your computer and return it to this email address...moving toward the paperless future! Of course you will still have to send me a paper check or money order. For those to whom I've already sent the .pdf app form, I'll resend it as a word doc...'cause I don't have the smarts (yet) to make a fillable .pdf! - mb

Questions? Please let us know in the comments!


Mary Beth, Songbird, & Quotidian Grace

Friday Five: Bursting with Fruit Flavor

Reverendmother here...

First, don't miss the new "Ask a Matriarch" feature below. Leave a comment--we all have wisdom to share, even us newbies--or submit your own head-scratcher for next week. And thanks again to those seasoned pastors who offer their expertise!

On to the F5:
Well, those of us in the United States are on high alert for air travel. Thank heaven, it appears that a huge disaster has been averted. Meanwhile, dreadful conflicts continue in the Middle East and around the world. We here at RGBP certainly hope and pray for safety, peace and fullness of life for all the peoples of the world.

Galatians 5 describes the fruit of the Spirit. With all the sadness and despair out there, we certainly need it! So, the Friday Five is simple. Pick any five of the following attributes and go wherever the Spirit leads you... your choice! Suggestions: When have you experienced this attribute? When have you struggled with it? Or who embodies it for you?

Or if you're feeling light-hearted--just assign a fruit to each one. I think Generosity is a Banana, don't you?


As always, let us know if you play. And I will refrain from throwing overripe fruits of the Spirit at you if you link directly to your post :-D

To create a link, use the following format:
<a href=>what you want the link to say</a>

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ask the Matriarch: Transitional Insanity

Welcome to our new Thursday evening feature! First--a note on protocols. Many of you have concerns with privacy, and I've erred on the side of caution. When you send a question, let us know how you would prefer to sign your question--or whether you would prefer not to.

Second, send your questions to Ask The Matriarch.

This week's question comes to us via Sleepless in the Suburbs:
I am in my very first senior pastor position. And, amazingly, this is the very first time that I have climbed up a rung in the career of my choice in quite some time. So, now I am somewhat sleepless trying to manage all the new responsibilities.

What day-to-day practices can you suggest to keep the transitional insanity to a minimum? What practical and spiritual disciplines have assisted you in such a transition?

Well, first of all—congratulations! Two of our matriarchs, Susan of Sense and Nonsense and Rev Abi know just the chaos of which you speak.

Wakers, Sleep
Susan writes: " You mention sleeplessness. The first thing you can put on your list is: SLEEP. That's right--get a nap, take a snooze, doze, rest! Think of Jesus catching z's in the boat in the midst of the storm. The disciples are in a panic, 'We're all gonna DIE!!' They say to Jesus, 'Do you not care?'

"During his ministry, Jesus gives us a good model for appropriate pastoral self care," she continues. "He's not constantly available to the disciples or to his followers. He takes time away for his own personal and spiritual needs. He spends time with friends."

Quiet Time
Rev Abi is also transitioning to a bigger church with staff to manage, more responsibilities, more needs. She writes: "You have asked a very good question as to how to handle this transition in a practical way and then with spiritual disciplines. The number one thing I do is: PRAY. Pray all day long. Pray whenever I can. But most of all, I have found that if I come to the office early, it is quiet, and I can quieten my mind, my heart and my soul to focus on God, and then be able to listen. I'm not always able to do this consistently, but it really helps."

Go on Walkabout
"I also WALK," writes Rev Abi. "I walk through the sanctuary up and down the pews, maybe pausing where I feel led to, and pray for the members, the visitors, our worship team, the ones who missed, the ones with needs, the ones who work so hard in the church. I will stop at the altar for a long time. Sometimes I sit down or kneel, and pray, confess, and seek God's direction. I walk through the rooms and pray for all those who use those rooms, the Christian life Center, the teachers, leaders, the students."

For that matter, take it up as a deliberate exercise program. Rev Abi wears a pedometer and aims for 10,000 steps a day. "My walk is a walk with God, and my physical health helps my spiritual health," she says.

Keep It Holy
Don't forget your Sabbath. "Yes," writes Rev Abi, "It's a day away from work, the office, the church, the people. A day to be with God, rejoice, worship, rest, play. I heard that is was a good idea to plan a second day for doing those family household chores, etc and to keep that separate from the day of Sabbath."

Susan agrees: "I think it's also important to distinguish between a 'day off' and a true sabbath day. Your sabbath day is not the day you mow the lawn or do the laundry or pay the bills. It's a day of intentional rest and spiritual renewal."

Use the Buddy System
Rev Abi notes that she has trouble being disciplined and intentional, so she has a spiritual director to help her stay on the path, to keep her focused and diciplined in my Spiritual growth, nurture and love of God. "He has me using a specific book by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben Job: A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants."

Spiritual friends are also important, she adds. "Someone who will support me, listen to me pray with me. Someone to be accountable to."

Required Reading
Rev Abi recommends the following books:
  • The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins
  • Making a Good Move by Michael J. Coyner
  • Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation by Lawrence W. Farris

Another book that many matriarchs recommend is David Allen's Getting Things Done. It's a good book on organization, task management and detail orientation. There are several blogs out there that focus on how to use the book in your work and life:
David Allen has his own website for "Getting Things Done" also.

The most important thing you can remember during all of this is that there is a system that will work for you, and all you have to do is discover it. That will take a little experimentation, a bit of practice, and a lot of patience, grace and time.

All our best!
The Matriarchs

Welcome Wagon

will smama is deep in Vacation Bible School this week, so I hope you will join me in welcoming three new RevGalBlogPals who have joined recently.

Mid-Life Rookie is blogging at Ministry Moments and Other Musings
She writes:
I'm a mom, wife, and second career seminary student. I am on the journey toward ordination in the United Methodist Church. I love watching God's healing work in my life and in the lives of others.
You may recognize her as a recent participant in some of our comments threads.

Rivkah blogs at Go and Do Likewise
She describes herself as
A mom of a 2 year old, a wife of a workaholic, a candidate for ministry. Isn't that enough?

The Feminarian blogs, not surprisingly at Feminary.
She asks
What happens when a socially liberal theologically confused inclusive tolerant feminist Episcopalian goes to one of the world's top evangelical seminaries? Let's find out.
Stop by and see what's happening!

Welcome to all of you!! RGBPs, stop by and leave a comment!

If you are reading this and thinking, "Hey, I clicked on the Join button a long time ago, but I'm not on the list!" you probably haven't added the WebRing code to your blog. That's a must for becoming an official member of RevGalBlogPals. If you need advice about the how-to, please send an e-mail to (Caveat: I am the tech support person and will be out of town for the next week. I'll reply promptly on my return.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday Festival: It's BlogFun Time!

Nothing in the world makes a revgal (or, in my case, an accidental blogpal) appreciate the matriarchs more than jumping into the roundup fray. They make it look so easy, so lo and behold, I volunteered to help out. Easy, it's not! But fun? Absolutely! And if you have blogfun you want to share--photos, vacation stories, funny bits, word games, memes, amusing anecdotes involving our blood and fur relations, you name it--let us know in the comments.

And off we go-----
Memery Lane:
Popular recent memes have included:

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted:
Ah, the summer of 2006, with its crazy heat wave--lots of people just had to get away. Some have left their intarwebs (internet connections, that is) behind or just got back to them after being away.

But others are wired no matter where they go.

Some are just.. going. PamBG is afk through her move. Mibi is getting settled in after hers. Heck, I'm still unpacking and I've been here four months. But at least I'm getting a vacation soon, myself--one I've been looking for since I was about 6.

This Place Is Going to the Dogs (and Cats, and the Hideously Trenchant Children)
What would life be without our pets, nonhostile garden critters and those-who-call-us-mom-in-reverential-and/or-exasperated tones? Probably quieter. Contemplative Chaplain has a protacted conversation with Moses about his hopes for joining the NHL. Sue's cat provides evidence of why we say "God bless you" when someone sneezes. She knows something's afoot, and she doesn't like it—and she can see it coming before we can, now, apparently. St. Casserole's tabbies are totally pandering for birthday presents. (In case you missed it, check out their little dress-up party not too long ago.)

From the kid side, Songbird's mother-growing pains will resonate with any parent of a teenager (including me). You know how you tell your kids not to talk to strangers? It's harder when the strangers are annoying you, as shared by Journey Mama.

Overheard at Possible Water: the things kids say are priceless, and, at times, out of this world. I just worry when they start levitating. Or when they go, as in Pink Shoes' case, incandescent. Be sure to help Bad Alice with the theological exam she got the other night--from her six-year-old.

Fun With Lawnmowers, Sharpshooters, and PhotoShop
A short story told in three links:
Carmen mowed a labyrinth into her lawn a week or so ago.
But before you let Reverend Mommy come to your labyrinth, beware the cyclops. And its minions.
It's okay, though. Lorna will defend you.

In the meantime, here's something completely different-- and in need of a caption-- at Fresh-Cut Flowers.

That's Good For What Ales Ya
Sally, bless you a thousand times over for offering up the Beer Prayer. I suspect I might be able to talk DFH into a church wedding now with that one.

Word Games Are Really All About Math
Check out Reverend Mother's Fibonacci Poem.

Twerpette gives us the Dialectizer, a handy tool for the next time you get a hankerin' to read the RevGals in SwedishChefese. Bork! Bork! Bork!

Knit 1, Swap 4
Mary Beth shares an opportunity for knitters and swappers to BOTH knit and swap, inviting you to join The Procrastiknitter's Dishcloth Exchange. ("But HURRY!" she notes. "Deadline to join is Thursday, August 10!") She also went to knitting camp with mom and her 9-year-old niece.

Emily of Hazelnut Reflections shares Adventures in Harlotry--Yarn Harlotry, that is.

Speaking of knitting (or, well, not), haven't you played trivia with us yet? CathyKnits has the scoop on how much we rock!

RevGals Gone Wild
Last, but certainly not least--HeyJules shows us her wits.