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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ask the Matriarch—Was it you? Was it me?

Two years ago, a family of five moved to town and became a part of our church community. They were directed to our congregation by a colleague of mine who had been their minister prior to their move. The parents are lovely people, professional, energetic and fun. Their three children are delightful. Mom helped with Sunday School, Dad led the youth for awhile, but dropped it when work commitments increased and he felt he was unable to give the youth group the attention it needed.

And then, last spring, gone. Just gone. I called several times and left friendly messages saying we missed them. I sent a personal note in their spring newsletter saying that I hoped they were well. When I returned from holidays in late September, several people asked me, “Where are the Smiths?” I said I didn’t know, but would try again to contact them.

A woman in our congregation has called them also, as has the Sunday School coordinator. At first, Mom Smith, said, “Oh yes, we’re coming back, but it’s been a rough summer, illness in the extended family and other issues....but we’ll be back.”

More recent contacts have been met with a bit of a chill. I have called at different times, never getting an answer, just the machine. (Call me paranoid - Caller ID???) At this point, I don’t think we will see them again.

My first response is: “What did I do or say to alienate this family?” It may not be about me at all, but that doesn’t mean I will stop feeling responsible. Does anyone else experience this?

Karen says:
In my experience this happens fairly frequently. Mostly it has little to do with the pastor. Among the reasons I’ve observed: the family got too involved too quickly and feels the need to pull back, the kids are getting busier and busier with weekend sports and/or the parents’ work pressures are increasing and they are feeling the need for down time more than for church on Sundays--especially if they are usually put in charge of something when they show up, someone else in church has done something that offended them or put them off, the kids have gotten involved in the larger, stronger youth group at another church and the parents want to be with the kids so they are all going there, or there is a big family problem they don’t want to be public about: marital problems, kid on drugs, etc. And yes, once in a while the pastor has done or said something that caused the rupture.

I think you have to make the effort to contact them and give them an opportunity to share what the issue is--though they may not be able/willing. (Also be aware that the reason given may not be the real reason.) It’s also nice if someone other than the pastor contacts them, so they know it’s not just the person who is paid to care that misses them and is concerned. But if they are not open or responsive, I think persistent pressure to come back or explain why not can cause an even more pronounced and permanent withdrawal.

What often happens when an active, young family leaves, however, is that other church leaders globalize this departure as an opportunity to say: See, our church is failing in every way. One thing you can do as a pastor is to help these folks put things in context. Our culture is becoming more and more transient. Over the course of time, members will come and go as their needs and priorities change. This may or may not mean there is a huge congregational problem.

Jan says:
It’s not about you.

Yes, it’s possible you preached a sermon that hit a nerve, or somebody made an inadvertent but hugely offensive comment, or a stranger thoughtlessly criticized their delightful children. But sometimes things happen and we can’t let it get to us personally. (Which is of course exactly what I’d be doing in spades if this situation were mine.) It’s quite possible that something has happened deep within the private lives of this seemingly perfect church family and they are too mortified to fill you in so they’ve gone MIA. Think: scary secret life.

It sounds like your congregation did all the right things: called, showed interest and concern. The only thing you might do at this point, simply to soothe your own mind is to write a brief, genuine note and say that you miss them and “whatever they are praying for, you are praying for.” And leave it at that. You may never hear from them again. Or you might.

Abi says:
I concur with what the other matriarchs have said. Yes, sometimes the person or family leaves because of what the Pastor has said, not said, done or not done. But more often than not you will know that, they will let it be known somehow or another, not always.

Like Jan, I think that you all have done a lot to reach out to that family. And I think it is important that the laity does a lot of that, because they are the church, they are the caring hands of Christ in the community. It may be that these people come back when they get through whatever they are going through, and it will have helped them stay connected through others.

In asking around about my church and listening, one of the things I have found is that this church has not been a youth friendly church. So it has had a history of families leaving this church to go to the church down the road with the bigger youth group. This is something important to know, and to deal with.

But to say it is you, yourself, maybe the old tapes of criticism playing in your head, that won’t stop playing. Perhaps writing that note like Jan suggests, or going to talk about the critical tapes to someone else. Even if it is something you said, it is something that can be dealt with. But the “not knowing” makes it hard to figure out—much less address—what’s wrong. Perhaps it is time to begin to let go. If you continue to hold onto the idea and the feeling that you are the responsible one, you’ll wind up miserable, hating yourself, and blaming yourself all the time. Ultimately, we are responsible for ourselves, our choices and decisions. If I left a church because I disagreed with the preacher, I would have left every one I have ever belonged to.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday Festival Street Parade

Hi and welcome to another fabulous Wednesday festival. This is my first round up, and it is full of great stuff.

In my part of the world we have just celebrated The Fisher's Ghost Festival. This is our regions annual festival; some regions celebrate people, events or nature. We celebrate a dead man, Fred Fisher's, ghost.
So I thought I would throw a Wednesday Festival, ala Fisher's Ghost, with a street parade, stalls, a carnival and most importantly fireworks for you all to sit back and enjoy.

First we have an Indian themed Float from Good in Parts, reflecting on India's unique society, specifically the caste system and her experience reading the Times of India.

This is followed by a wonderful float filled with all the things we are thankful for.
Besomami shares a picture of her beautiful girl.
Lutheran Geek reflects on the freedom that comes with the quirky, wonderful, fabulous, families that know you best and love you most.
Jill has found her writing mojo again with a fantastic list of things to be thankful for, and the peace that comes with being still by Christmas lights.
Sally has been challenged about the depth of being Christian and is grateful for it. Sally is also celebrating the amazing achievements of her daughter at her graduation. Congratulations Emma!!
Sue at Inner Dorothy
is thankful for Ordinary Time and for all those who have contributed.

This is by far the largest float in the parade!

Now I am seeing a fabulous float made up of a collection of sermons, firstly Sally's sermon, Christ is King, and also Pambg's sermon, Christ is King of Heaven and Earth.
This float concludes with a very entertaining hymn also from Pambg.

The next float is called Quest. It has a number of questions people would love an answer for.
Featherlessbiped is a RGBP newbie and is asking about accessibility and professional boundaries ie mobile phones. Drop around and say hi.
asks the question, "What makes a good Sound Check?" (for me it's the Sesame Street counting song)
Pink Shoes is asking "What are you reading?"
And Reverend Mother asks about the giving of cards and Gift cards during this festive season.

Psaltery, Sue at Innerdorothy and Deb, are parading on the Christmas/Advent Music Meme float, don't forget to wave.

Deep South has her own multimedia float with beautiful images from the Deep South and the new Johnny Cash tribute video.

Our next float is called Ponderings. It is a wonderfully diverse mix of Snowflake's, David's last word's and God's presence from Milton, a fabulous read.
And an inner journey about the transition from Seminary back to the real world from

And our final float in the parade today is Sally as she looks toward advent, with less tinsel and tea towels, and more angels and also looks at ways of warding off burnout.

Well that brings us to the end of our parade for the Wednesday Festival. Thank you to all those who have contributed, making a simply astounding street parade.

Please continue to nominate those wonderful blogs which are out there. Because although Fisher's Ghost only comes out once a year, the Wednesday Festival comes around every week!



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Advent 1C

"Happy New Year!" This is how I intend to greet my parishioners on Sunday morning. I shall then watch them look at me quizzically while they wonder if I had just a little too much wine on Thanksgiving.

I love the first Sunday of Advent. I love purple, I love the wonder and the waiting, I love exchanging the "Year B" books on my desk for the "Year C" ones. My congregation? Not so much. They want to dive headlong into Christmas. (Okay, not all of them, but many, and they are vocal.)

I often find myself in the role of cheerleader on the first Sunday of Advent, trying to convince the congregation that this year, Advent will be Magical! It'll be so cool, you'll want it to last longer.


So once agan this year I'm stuck trying to preach Advent 1 in a way that doesn't sound apologetic, as in , "Sorry for everybody who showed up hoping to hear 'O Come All Ye Faithful'. Let's sing a rousing chorus of 'Comfort, Comfort Ye My People' instead. One more Sunday of this, and you get to see the cute little kiddos do their Christmas pageant, I promise."

The Lukan lection this week seems to paint a picure of expectation. I believe my best chances lie therein.

How about you this week?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Meet N' Greet


Young and Collared - In her own words: Trying to hear God speak in daily life, through my experience as a twenty-somthing young woman on her way (God willing!) to ordination. There will be a quiz later to determine who checked out her blog. Because if you do then you will know what 'Diwali' is.

Common Places - In her own words: Random mutterings of an overeducated bibliophile and sometime theologian. Go check out her 'thankful' list.

Let's see now... who shall we meet... How about Christine Valters Paintner!

Got blog? (where do you blog)
At The Sacred Art of Living (

What gives you joy?
Spooning with my husband, walking in the woods, silence and stillness, leisure time with great friends, creating, writing, laughing, being fully present to the beauty of the world.

What is your favorite sound?
The deep and longing notes of a solo cello

Describe a perfect day in your world.
Sleeping in, fresh fruit for breakfast and a pot of Irish Breakfast tea, recording my dreams and time for writing and journaling, playing with art materials, stretching slowly, relishing silence, going for a long hike with a good friend, a warm bath with dead sea salt, a nourishing dinner of fresh fish and vegetables, watching a movie with my beloved and then snuggling until we fall asleep.

You have up to 15 words: what would you put on your tombstone?
She witnessed to the sacred mystery beating at the heart of the world

What color do you prefer your pen?
Purple, pink, or green!

What magazines do you subscribe to?
Sojourners, Spirituality & Health, National Geographic, Southwest Art (great collage images!)

What is one of your favorite memories?
Hiking in the mountains of Austria in the summers when I was growing up, reaching those far off huts for a bowl of homemade knodel soup.

What is something you want to achieve this year? This decade? This lifetime?
Make more and more time for writing, for art, for dreamwork, for hiking, for cooking, for being.

Peace, friends and prayers for Songbird and Reverend Mommy and hubby. All three are battling nasty illnesses. Blech!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunday Prayer

Gracious and Loving God, we thank you today for so many blessings...

...for one another... for families that provide care and nurture.. for friends who know us well and like us anyway.. for good neighbours...and for the people who are there when we need a helping hand.

...we thank you for our four-legged friends and we pray for domestic pets without homes and those who live in abusive or neglectful homes.

...for your creation and all its wonder. God, help us to be better stewards of its beauty and richness.

...we thank you for the church, and for this time we share together as your people. On this Reign of Christ Sunday, we pray that the realm that Jesus dreamt of and taught us about, will come to be. Guide us, God, and help us to create your best hope for our world.

We pray now for those whom we have named here this morning – and all of those we know to be in special need of your grace.

We pray for peace, God. We pray that the kingdoms of this world will stop their warring madness and find the humanity in one another...that they will look into the face of their enemies and see themselves reflected back, recognizing once and for all that we are all your beloved children – and that your greatest hope for us is that we live together peacefully.

May it be so, most Gracious God, and may it begin with each of us. And now, as Jesus taught his friends, we pray together singing…


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival: it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

11th Hour Preacher Party: Saturday on the Couch with Songbird Edition

Good morning, my preaching compatriots. I'm coming to you from my living room, where I expect to be tucked up on the couch most of the day, afflicted with a variety of upper respiratory symptoms and a few in other categories, too. All I can say is I'm thankful it isn't Sunday today! I'm not sure how I would get up and go, much less speak, since swollen glands seem to be part of the package of fun.

How have you managed to preach when sick? And what are you planning to preach tomorrow?

I'm afraid the refreshments here today are along the lines of tea and ginger ale with crushed ice, but you are welcome to bring along whatever you need to encourage your work today.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday Five

Reverendmother here...

My husband accompanied my brother this morning to stand on line for a Nintendo Wii. They headed out at oh-dark-thirty this morning but were, sadly, thwarted. There were 30 people in line for 6 units. They are trying to be philosophical about it--"That's the most I was willing to do, so I'm OK with it... imagine the people who waited for hours!" my brother said.

So this is a "Black Friday" Five (aka Buy Nothing Day) in honor of the busiest shopping day of the year:

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo?

2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity?

3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything.

4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture?

5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3.

Leave a comment here to let us know you've played.

And if you can make a link, and if Blogger cooperates, so much the better. Here's the formula:

<a href="the URL of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

In other words, have your blog post open in another window, then cut-and-paste the link to your post right into the formula above. At the very least, if your name and your blog title don't match up, do tell us that much.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

We Gather Together

We gather together to share our Thanksgivings!

This will be an open comment thread where you may share something you're thankful for, ask for help with the turkey,
muse about family gatherings, or moan about eating too much pie.

It's also a reminder of Delurking Week, which has been a joy thus far. Grab the image for your blog and let the Delurking continue!

Whether you are eating the traditional turkey, or deep-frying it, or awaiting your tofurkey from the oven, may you have a day blessed with generosity of heart and spirit and may traveling mercies attend you wherever your journey may lead.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday Festival: Thanksgiving Delurking!

Well, Delurking and Thankfulness are all the rage around the blogring this week!

If you haven't been doing it, get on out there! All you need is a comment. If you haven't got a comment, leave a blogstone: (O) If you haven't got a blogstone, you need a new keyboard!

With Thanksgiving, it's a great time to mention that Carmen's town survived a tornado last week (more photos here), so she definitely deserved to spend a night at the movies, where she saw and really enjoyed Casino Royale ("okay," she says, "so I’m a Bond fan"). Anyone else seen any good movies lately?

Sunday's Child has written about her First Thanksgiving memory here.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I am alwasy thankful when LutheranChik shares recipes! Here is one from her "ongoing intrafamilial chicken-wing cookoff."

Sally's thankful for a wonderful weekend, and for her son Chris's 21st birthday! He and his family have overcome so many challenges - it's a wonderful testimony.

Lorna writes of a mysterious package received in the mail at just the right time :) She would appreciate your prayers in light of recent difficulties. She greatly appreciated the funny shared by Will Smama here.

As Deb gets close to the end of her semester, she is thinking about many things. It's like reading serial essays! Two thoughts on Job (one - two!) and two about breastfeeding on airplanes (another one - two!).

And on a totally different note (hee hee) Milton has had some fun with The American Music Awards.

Last week I did some writing about death (and life) and then pondered my upcoming Thanksgiving pilgrimage (oh my, the puns won't stop coming! somebody help me!)

RevEm is celebrating her 100th post!

Rainbow Pastor has a great and deeply moving post on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The ever-tuneful Psalmist has some very talented guest cat bloggers! On the pet front, Cathy needs any assistance available from pet owners who have dealt with the dreaded Bad Breff issues...and still speaking (loosely) of animals, Cathy also has a Frog Hat that you should not miss seeing, and Mindy won the coolest thing ever.

Psalmist also shares a two-part reflection on what we should NOT sing! Part the First and Part the Second. I mean, I am this is great stuff, especially in the comments. ROFLOL!

Of course, Advent is right round the corner! Even so, come, Lord Jesus! I know I have read on the ring (but cannot now locate) some good reflections on fully celebrating that season, rather than jumping hands and feet right into CHRISTMAS MANIA the day after Thanksgiving. Anyone who would like to share such, please do so in the comments.

And it is NOT too early to think about Pantipalooza! This awesome event returns for its second year. It is the brainchild of Princess Mindy (she of the Thankfulness List and Delurkey Cow fame) and a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine's Day while helping others. Start your shopping for that event early...and you won't be stressed when V-Day comes around!

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving Day, whatever form it may take for you and whoever you spend it with. Looking forward to reading about it in your various spaces.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Come, Lord Jesus

This Thursday, as we sit around our dinner tables and thank God for the blessings of food, family and friends, some of us might do so in the words of the beloved table grace, "Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest..."

But who is this Lord Jesus? In the coming Sunday's lectionary readings we find Christ praised as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last...the one who is and who was and who is to come...the Almighty. Yet we also see him, in our Gospel lesson, as a Lord who puts his Lordship aside to stand by us and suffer with us in our pain, weakness and vulnerability.

As I write this, I'm looking at a reproduction of the Sinai Christ Pantocrator on my home altar. The Lord of All's luminous image extends a kingly benediction, as he looks out on us with triumph, wisdom and resolve. Yet his eyes -- his eyes -- are the eyes of a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

What are your thoughts on our paradoxical Lord, our Savior who stoops to conquer, this week as you plan your sermons and prayers? How do you approach the concept of Christ's sovereignty in a contemporary world where monarchy is often associated with despotism on one hand, frivolity or irrelevance on the other? Or are you planning your worship around other texts? As always, share your insights here and on your blogs!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monthly Mission Moment--Holy Smoke!

So I'm lookin' at the RGBP website wondering, Gosh, I wonder why no one has posted anything for Monday when it hits me ----it's the THIRD MONDAY! Time for a Mission Moment!

This Month's Mission Moment comes from Rhiannon at Sundae, Sunday.

In the midst of the music and the booze of Austin's notoriously rowdy 6th Street district is St. David's Episcopal Church.

Established in 1848, St David's boasts one of the largest Episcopal parishes in the nation and takes up an entire city block downtown, including a multi-level parking garage popular with late-night revelers. Our janitor, Gus, is often at the church late into the night and he had the opportunity to see the inebriated partiers staggering towards their cars, getting ready to drive home even though they were in no condition to do so.

Gus didn't like the idea of those kids driving home drunk, so he did something about it. He's not our Rector, he's not on the vestry, he's not even on any of the committees that so visibly do good works throughout the community. He's just a "regular guy" who, because his work for the church isn't glamorous, gets overlooked.

Like any true Texan, Gus believes in the restorative powers of Vitamin B --barbeque. He organized a few of his fellow maintenance workers to start serving up bbq, sausage, and other goodies to the hungry folks walking back to their cars. The Holy Smokers were born. They set up tables, chairs and a giant pit smoker in the alley by the parking lot and, wouldn't you know it, the folks who were wobbling towards their cars, stopped and ate some bbq instead.

If you have a unique and innovative mission project that is working where you are, let us know by clicking the Mission MOment button on the sidebar. See you in December

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thanksgiving Delurking Week

There are so very many things in our lives that we can be thankful for. I personally, am thankful for such a wonderful group people represented by the RevGals and BlogPals and our community here online. At Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom recently, some of us were noticing that there has been a drop in commenting recently. So, in honor of Mindy, Princess of Everything, we are having a Thanksgiving Delurking week! (Please notice the cow; that's for Mindy).

Place this image on your blog and announce Delurking Week, starting today and going until November 26th. When you visit a blog, you can either just say "Thank you for blogging" or place a blogstone (o) (The invention of PPB of The Ice Floe) or whatever verbage the Spirit moves you to leave.

Let the Delurking begin!

Sunday Prayer

Gracious and Loving God, we give you thanks for this day and for the blessings we find in it. We thank you for all the goodness around us – for small and great acts of kindness that remind us of your presence in our complicated world.

We thank you for the people who inspire us to live lives of faithfulness and compassion. We thank you for the prophetic voices who call us to remember that your love is for all people. Thank you for those who work for the cause of peace and justice in your world, and guide us to do likewise.

Grant your presence and your peace to all in need of your grace and healing. We pray for all who are ill in body, mind or spirit…for those who are poor, or hungry, or oppressed…for those who feel no joy in the passing of each day…and for all who have been hurt or excluded from the best things in life on the basis of their race, gender, socioeconomic place, sexual orientation or physical and developmental ability.

Be with all of these, O God, and pour out the blessing of your Spirit upon them, and bring them the peace of knowing your amazing grace. Guide us as we go from here, that we may be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. May we see the face of Christ in everyone we meet, and may we embrace the world with your peace, your justice, and your love.

And now in the name of the One who taught his friends how to pray, we sing together…


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival: it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party

(Lest I forget again and leave Songbird to cover my butt, I am posting this before I go to bed.)

Good morning, preachers! The coffee is on, and it's STRONG, because I for one will need it that way. Despite all efforts, I have not even started getting words down for this week's sermon, and today is going to be a whirlwind of activity. I'm hoping that some of you will bring goodies, because I have had zilch time this week to bake.

I'm off lectionary this week so that I can preach something that fits with our annual congregational meeting. What are you all thinking? What brilliance is spewing forth from your minds/the Holy Spirit this week? And can you please send some this way?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Five: Giving Thanks

It's that time of year. In the U.S., college students will be on their way home, traffic on the highways will be at its highest point, cooking and baking will ensue. But before the gorging and napping begins, let's take a moment to give thanks.

Please tell us five things or people for which you are thankful this year.

Leave a comment here to let us know you've played.

And if you can make a link, and if Blogger cooperates, so much the better. Here's the formula:

<a href="the URL of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

In other words, have your blog post open in another window, then cut-and-paste the link to your post right into the formula above. Or as reverendmother pointed out last week, if your name and your blog title don't match up, do tell us that much.

Edited to add: Widening Circles suggests adding the quotation marks I have now added above. I make my links without them, but if that will help, go for it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ask the Matriarch: The Catty Retiree

Recently I went to see a retired pastor. She has retired to a local church of which she was once (a long time ago) the pastor, because ordained pastors in the UMC are rotated around the conference.

Her congregation does not have a paid pastor at the moment—the designated pastor in charge drives through once a month to give communion and to attend the board meeting. Instead, her church employs two part-time workers, both in their 20s, one of whom will be made a local pastor in due course. Even together, they are not paid a full salary: One is paid 50% and the other 25% of a church worker’s income (which is less than a pastor’s).

IMHO, they are doing a brilliant job. In an era where other UMC churches here are stagnating or diminishing, theirs is growing and they have managed to attract a lot of young people both to the youth work and the Sunday morning services. They have also worked hard with other groups, including older people; only the junior church (i.e. Sunday School) is floundering because there is no teacher, and kids have stopped attending.

The former pastor is critical of them because they don't work 24/7. To put this in perspective, the one who is employed 50% works for 3 full days (20-24 hours) a week, excluding Sunday services, has one official day off a week, and uses two days for studies. The other person works fewer hours, but still probably two full days a week plus Sunday services. Both also tithe of their free time and work to build up the national youth work (including one full weekend a month and additional time for behind the scenes stuff).

My question to AtM is: What is a reasonable amount of time for a pastor / church worker to spend 'on the job' ... and what is the best way to deal with veiled criticism like this partcularly when the pastor in question is an active member of the congregation?

Not casting stones

Quoth the matriarchs:
Jan says:
We often see:
• abused clergy
• congregations who don’t give their staff a day off/raises/Christmas presents
• members who are bullies (and pastors who are bullies too for that matter)

My mantra often starts this way: In a healthy congregation . . .

In a healthy congregation . . .
The staff models Sabbath-taking so that the congregation remembers that only God is God and the world does not spin based on our or our church staff’s efforts.

In a healthy congregation . . .
Pastors are paid fairly, thanked generously, and respected faithfully.

In a healthy congregation . . .
We recognize that we don’t own the church; it belongs to God.

And of course, we want a healthy congregation.

And Abi says:
I concur with Jan with what she says about the healthy church. It should become a mantra for us, for our people, and for the higher ups. We should print out what she has written and post it on the wall.

Then when any one starts the whining, complaining thing? Just point them to that. Keep a copy ready to hand to the whiner, and say now go home and repeat this seven times then come back and talk to me. :)

But seriously:
First, the retired minister: She may be feeling “set out to pasture,” since there is a retirement age in force in the UMC. But just because she is retired does not mean she has to quit: She could consider offering herself to preach, or pastor a little church or in a big church to do pastoral care, lead small groups, or lead worship. Perhaps she needs to ask around. Her complaints tell us that there is some other feeling, problem beneath the surface—and it may just be that she wants to participate more herself, or it may be that she sees them as having less of a workload than she did (not realizing or caring that they have other vocational pursuits such as mission work and education, to say nothing of their scaled-down compensation). Ultimately, though, we can guess, but we cannot know what.

Second, salaries for ordained ministers on the whole are on the rise, but that is more due to healthcare costs, insurance, the number of retired pastors, etc. An individual pastor may not see it in her take-home pay. Your conference has a set minimum salary for pastors, and the churches can work from that minimum up. (I personally think the minimum is too low.)

Third (for all of us, including the put-upon part-timers), set your boundaries and stand by them. It is very important to be clear with yourself as well as the congregation members how many hours you will work—and be firm about it. Now certainly there are crises, deaths, etc, but even then one needs to rest to be able to do the work again. Even Jesus did that: He worked hard and then took time away. A Seminary Professor of mine. Dr. McSwain taught me that, and encouraged me to use Jesus as our model of work and rest. And so I do my best to do that.

Ask for help
For veiled criticism, you can use the system and the leaders to work for you—to support you in taking care of yourself to be the pastor you need to be. If it happens to me, I can send that person to the Parish-Pastor Relations Committee chair, ADMIN chair, or the district superintendent to support me—I don't have to do it all by myself. But if you don't have them or whatever your hierarchy offers as higher-ups on board with you, or they don't agree or understand, then they can work against you when veiled criticism comes. This is a little long, but I hope it helps.

In the previous appointment, one thing I learned is that it is not the number of hours I work or how busy I look, it is how efficient I am within the time I work. When I am not working efficiently, I need to step back and look at what is going on with myself. Usually it is that I have not taken time away, have not had Sabbath time or time with friends; or I am not utilizing all the people in the church to do their ministry as well.

And a quick footnote: Ask the Matriarch is taking a breather for Thanksgiving next week, but we’ll have something fun for you to do while you’re lapsing into your Turkey Comas. Advent is right around the corner: Be sure to send your holiday-season themed AtM questions to — and we’ll be back 11/30!

Why Incorporate?

There was a comment on my blog yesterday asking me to explain what advantage there was to incorporating RevGalBlogPals as a tax-exempt organization. Since this is a great question, and one that other members of the blogring may have, I answered it in a separate post here for those of you who are interested. If you have any other questions, please put them in the comments to this post and I will do my best to answer them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday Festival

It's been rainy here in my part of the country. The leaves are too wet for raking and I'm putting off my Thanksgiving preparations for a few more days, too. It's the perfect time to sit back, relax, and and enjoy this feast of words from our fellow/sister bloggers.

For starters, let me introduce myself, since this is my first Wednesday Festival—and on top of that I've recently packed up my blog and moved it from One Foot in ... to Widening Circles, down in the Ws where no one will ever get to it in the blogroll. I've been hanging around the RevGalBlogPals for a while because there's a part of my heart that just loves reading about the daily life and work of women in ministry; I'm a sort of preacher wannabe myself, as I explain here.

Now, on to the good stuff ...

If Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, can December be far behind? Oh yes, it's that time of year again! As we enter the season of Christmas/Advent planning, Sue has a meme of questions about seasonal music What are your favorite and least favorite Christmas and Advent hymns, and which ones make you want "to run screaming into traffic"?

Sally is thinking about December, too, but in a serious way. She is looking for ways to escape the consumerist treadmill and make the season a time of reflection.

Also in holiday planning mode, Steph is in search of Baltimore-Washington area folks she might meet during her trip home next week (or whenever else she heads that way).

In her post titled Leading the Contemporary Service Meditation, Mrs. M. asks for guidance from experienced Revs about how to deal with working under clergypersons with whom you have difficulty communicating effectively, and how to improve the situation.

Natalie is a United Methodist teenager who never thought much about sexism until it was discussed at a youth program she attended last summer; now she wonders why she has never personally met a woman who is senior pastor of a church and why, at least in her experience, no one talks about sexism in church.

Another of her posts, which describes her youth group and is called Why I’ve given up, inspired Lorna to think about how well her own church is serving its younger members. Lorna has also written about starting a new chapter in her life.

Meanwhile, when Carmen and both her kids were sick, huddled under blankets on the couch watching TV, they learned something about how followers of Jesus should treat their stuff from a fictional, animated girl named Lola.

More mom thoughts from Chelley, who offers a story from the lighter side of single-mothering a son. It's about the time her little boy wanted to "shave"—and where do you think he started?

Revem is celebrating a birthday (many happy returns!) and has shared some things she's learned in the past 32 years about life, love, and ... peanut butter?

Pam has been reflecting on faith, doubt, and the "fact of Christ."

Milton has been thinking about grace, trying to figure out how to deal with daily life in a way that connects with the expansiveness of grace, reaching beyond the confines of his own small world.

And to close with something completely different, Sarah tries her hand at writing a murder mystery after the style of Thomas Aquinas. Hilarity ensues.

That's it for now. Don't forget to nominate for next week. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

RGBP Inc Granted Tax Exempt Status

Today I received a letter from the IRS granting RevGalBlogPals Inc. tax exempt status under section 501-c-3 of the Internal Revenue Code. This means RGBP Inc. is now qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts. The ruling is retroactive to the date of the incorporation of RGBP which is July 17, 2006.

Now that we have tax-exempt status RGBP Inc will be eligible to apply for and receive grants from foundations as well.

The RGBP Inc board will meet electronically Monday, November 20 to elect officers and begin plans for the organization. The minutes of the meeting will be posted on Tuesday morning on the RGBP blog. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments and we will respond to you.

The "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana" edition of TLL

Okay, that joke doesn't have anything to do with the lectionary--yet. I just saw it on Studio 60 last night and thought it made a funny visual. YMMV.

This is my last sermon to write before Advent, having been graciously given the Sunday after Thanksgiving off. I feel as if I need to cram a whole lot into it. Is anyone else fighting this temptation?

This week's lection has a gospel lesson that I heard pretty consistently in my childhood, growing up in a premillenialist/dispensationalist household. (Say that three times fast!) I never really understood what "wars and rumors of wars" really meant, since I grew up during the tail end of Vietnam, and it seemed as if there was always somebody fighting somewhere.

I'm hoping this week, through prayer and study, to unlock the mystery of this passage and find the hope within. How else can we prepare for Advent without a little hope?

What mysteries are you pondering this week?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Meet n' Greet

Hey all! First we have a couple of folks to greet...


Get Her Words Out: Thoughts of an MTF transgender seminary graduate working her way through the PC(USA) ordination process. Go over and support her as she is in process and all of us pcusa'ers know what THAT's like. OI!

besomami: Mom to two amazing kids, wife of a pastor/graduate student, interim pastor of a PC(USA) congregation in the desert southwest. Be sure to scroll down and check out the SWEET fire truck the kids were driving around at a birthday party.

Don't forget to head on over and give these folks a nice 'Howdy!'

And now for the meet...

Let's hang out with cathyknits! Cathy knits and more - a lifelong lay Episcopalian who is also a member of the religious order Daughters of the King. She is a wife, mother, teacher, and friend. She sings, knits, reads, and prays. Not necessarily in that order and can do many at the same time.

1) Got blog?
Oh yeah, I got blog –

2) What are your favorite non-revgalblogpal blogs?
You mean there are some? Oh there are a few
– Yarn Harlot –
Mason Dixon Knitting – and a new one I just found – Time goes By – what it’s really like to get older -

Professionally, I like Education wonks -

3) What gives you joy?
Singing, reading, my students, family, gardening – oh life in general!

4) What is your favorite sound?
This is only ONE of my favorite sounds – it really isn’t fair to ask for a favorite – anyway, I love listening to the cicadas on a summer evening.

5) Describe a perfect day in your world.
No phone, no tv, reading a book and knitting, no responsibilities.

6) What do you hope to hear once you reach the pearly gates?
Oh another sound – well, I told my daughter once that I sure hope they had a bathroom up in heaven when she asked me if there was one. So I better say I hope I hear the toilet flushing.

7) You have up to 15 words: what would you put on your tombstone?
don’t think that if I am cremated I will have a tombstone – so perhaps I am exempt from this question

8) What color do you prefer your pen?

9) What magazines do you subscribe to?
Southern living, A Taste of Home, Weavings, Birds in Bloom, Interweave Knits, Creative Knitting, Mailbox (teacher magazine)

10) Why are you cool?
Because I embrace dorkism

11) Got a funny story?
One of the funniest stories about church that really happened – one of my friends, Chuck, God rest his soul, was layreading. He got ready to announce the psalm. “The portion of the Psalter appointed for this day is Psalm 23 found on page 784 of the Phone book – then he said – well we know that’s not right – our phone book isn’t that big…. And then said prayer book. (I have no idea what psalm is really was or what page it was on – those are arbitrary for the story). We all had great fun with that one. Hope Chuck is laughing right now….

12) What is something you want to achieve this year? This decade? This lifetime?
Get the addition to our home so Mom can have her apt!
Decade – I would like to go on an Alaskan cruise.
Lifetime – sometime I would like to sing with the Berkshire Choral Festival (okay – the decade and lifetime could be interchangeable).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sunday Prayer for Remembrance/Veteran's Day

A big thank you this week to Gord who agreed to share his Remembrance Day prayer with us. Thanks Gord!

God of peace and love, on this 11th day of the 11th month we once again gather to remember. We remember that in Jesus of Nazareth you have called us to be people of peace saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and reminding us that we are to love our neighbour and our enemy as we love ourselves.
But we also acknowledge that there are times when we as a global community fail to live out those words, times when young men and women hear the call to don the uniforms of their country and serve under their flag.
Today we give thanks for all who have chosen to serve their country. We give thanks for their bravery, their commitment, and their love.
But we know that when armies meet on the field there are always some who don’t come home.
And so we pause in the memory of those who went and did not return to mothers and wives and children left behind.

We remember battles at Ypres, and Passchendale, and Vimy Ridge in the war we were told would end all wars, battles where the blood of enemies mingled in the mud and water of France and Belgium.
And we remember those who fell in the war that came a scarce generation later. And again young men died in places like Hong Kong, and Ortona, and Dieppe, and Juno Beach, and in the Netherlands.
We remember all who fell and were buried far from home, or who sank to a watery grave in the cold Atlantic.

Then as the years past the roles changed and we sent our best to help keep the peace in places like Cyprus, and the Golan Heights, and Cambodia. And still some died and were buried.
And now, in these last few months we find that our young have returned to the battlefield, only to have 42 of them return in a coffin carried solemnly to a waiting aircraft.

God, whose hope for the world is peace, on this day we not only remember the fallen of Canada who lie buried under a military tombstone. We remember also the fallen of Germany, and Japan, and France, and Australia. Or Italians, and native Afghanis, and English. This day we honour all who die as a result of humanity’s common failing to live in the peace you have hoped for all these millennia.

God, we pray too for those who returned from battle forever changed by what they had seen. For those who bore, and still bear, wounds of body and soul. In particular we remember those from within this Legion community who have died since the last time we gathered in this way: (read names from bulletin).

And now, God of love, as we have remembered and honoured, we prepare to go back into our everyday lives. May the remembering we have done here today reawaken and strengthen our commitment to work for peace, true peace. Help us to remember that peace will never truly come from a gun barrel but from the depths of our hearts. Help us remember our calling to be peacemakers at home and abroad, in the big things and in the small. And may we never forget the cost that has already been paid.

God of peace that surpasses all understanding, we pray our remembrances and our hopes in the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who taught his friends to pray by saying together:
Our Father, who art in heaven…



Don't forget the Wednesday Festival: it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is click on the hyperlinked words: RevGal Wednesday Festival to create a mail message to the Festival team.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too!

11th Hour Preacher Party

It's that time of year for many preachers, the dreaded season when we turn to the gospel looking for a message to encourage giving and find the widow's mite. The Stewardship committee is looking for a pep rally, but we have a text that reads one way superficially and quite another when you dig deeper.

I'm reading about the widow today, and more about Ruth, too, because I remain unsettled about the message needed tomorrow. (When in doubt, be a bluestocking.)

Where do you find yourselves, fellow preachers?

Fortunately, it's a quiet day here. The coffee is on, and tea is a possibility, too. When I take the dogs out, I'll pick up some donuts from our great local place; just wait 'til you taste the molasses glazed!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Five: What's Red and Blue and Purple All Over?

Before we get to the Five: a query from RevGalBlogPal Susan Olson:

Thank you, revgalmatriarchs for allowing me to cut into the normal programming. I have been asked to nose about an article on young female clergy bloggers for a mainline vanguard liberalish magazine (I love pseudonyms). If you are a clergy woman (or RC professed religious), blogger, and 32 years of age or younger, I'd love to talk to you. If you are interested in talking, please drop me a line at susan.olson(at) For those over 32 who are young at heart, I hear you, I salute you, I join you---but I'm in need of the chronologically young for this one!

Susan Olson (not Cindy Brady--she's Susan Olsen---and if you were thinking that, you're probably not under 32.)


And now, on to the Five.

Those of us who are in the United States have just been through quite a topsy-turvy election. During the campaign we heard a fair amount about red states and blue states, when in fact most of us live in some shade of purple. And so... a lighter look at those confounding colors:

1. Favorite red food

2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person.

3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide?

4. What has you seeing red these days?

5. What or who picks you up when you're feeling blue?

Dare I tempt the all-too-temperamental Blogger by inviting folks to link?
<a href=URL-GOES-HERE>what you want the link to say</a>

If you're not feeling that daring, at least tell us the name of your blog, if it's not the same as your username. And we'll do our best to stop by!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ask the Matriarch: ISO Good CPE

Thursday TOTALLY snuck up on me this week. Are the rest of you as busy as I am? Wow!

On to the question:

Dear Matriarchs,

I'm wondering what advice you would give seminarians for choosing a clinical pastoral education placement. I'm a first-year seminarian and will have to figure out both within the next few months. How does one find a good supervisor? How do you find the balance between a placement that will stretch you but not so much that you barely survive it? How do you sustain yourself spiritually during CPE? What advice would you give for getting the most out of the experience? What advice would you give to someone who has previous experience in a medical setting, but not as a chaplain?

Thank you!!

A resounding chorus from our participating matriarchs this week (Peripatetic Polar Bear, Jan, Abi and St. Casserole): Talk to people who have done CPE at that location and with that supervisor before, and think carefully about what sort of placement interests you.

Ask around
“There will probably be folks at your seminary, and if not, simply ask the hospital if there are former students willing to talk,” says PPB. “Each setting is very unique, and the ins and outs are best heard from previous students.” Also, ask some of the other students about various supervisors they’ve had, says Abi. Jan notes that if you ask your trusted friends, they can give you “solid CPE recommendations. So much depends upon the situation: the hospital, the particular unit, the supervisor.”

Writes PPB, “That said, there is a certain sense of bravado that accompanies CPE students. Don't be surprised to hear all sorts of stories. Remember, though, that these stories matter because they were departures from the norm, not the norm. And, expect to be challenged by your CPE supervisor. It's a unique role—a combination of teacher and mentor.”

One thing to consider is whether you would prefer a male or female supervisor, says Abi, and she points out that you can visit the website for ACPE at for a list of supervisors and settings, as well as a FAQ section.

Choosing a placement

And there is the question of what CPE area most appeals to you. “Which one(s) interest you?,” asks St. Casserole. “I did CPE in a med-surg hospital and loved all of my quarters in two different hospitals.” What are you well suited for, she continues, will help you determine how to “stretch” healthfully. “The ‘stretch’ of CPE is the strength of the program,” she explains. “Learning about yourself in a clinical setting will help you in ministry. What makes you angry and why? What provokes you and why? Are you trying to save those entrusted to your care or are you allowing God to work through you? How can you be available to those who hate what your represent? How do you provide care to the staff? All these things and more are ‘stretching’ exercises for ministry.”

Jan notes that sometimes women are always put into pediatrics or labor/delivery and neonatal intensive care (NIC) units. You may be more or less inclined to avoid the addictions unit. You might want to seek out a placement with a rotation, so that you can experience many different units.

Location, location, location
Jan offers these questions to consider when choosing a placement: “Is the hospital staff used to/respectful of chaplains? Is it a church-based hospital that might have an immediate issue with women in ministry? That could bad for you. Is it a teaching hospital? That could be good for you. Is it a mental health hospital? That might be very helpful if you are going into parish ministry.” Abi notes that other variations from hospital placements include correctional facilities and nursing homes.

PPB was sustained spiritually by the beautiful folks that she visited—mostly the elderly, and by my persistent use of music as therapy. “I would go home and play the guitar,” she says. “When I was on-call (we did 56 hour on-call weekends), I'd bring my guitar. It became important to me to be creating new material in the midst of so many endings.”

To sustain oneself spiritually, one needs to spend time in prayer, worship, meditation and prayer, writes Abi, but don’t forget you. “Be sure you have friends outside the CPE setting that you are with, and are doing other things with,” she says.

St. Casserole agrees that you should continue with your regular spiritual disciplines. “You may learn more about your faith in CPE. Seeing God in the midst of tragedy in a clinical setting is a spiritual and theological act,” she says.

Déjà vu?
Don’t forget what you know as someone with previous experience in a medical setting, but don’t depend on it either. “What you know already will be of help to you in CPE but I believe you will see yourself in a different way when you act as a chaplain,” says St. Casserole.

Jan agrees, and notes that sometimes if you go in thinking you know what’s going on, you may make things worse. “As a pastor, my worst experiences with CPE students/certified chaplains have occurred because they assumed too many things.” Once, she was sitting in blue jeans with an elder at bedside of her dying ex-husband—she had called Jan in the middle of the night to ask her to come because, even though he was a terrible husband, she didn’t want him to die alone. “She told me ‘bad husband stories’ all night, and when the time came for him to die, a chaplain came in and assumed that F. was the desperately grieving wife and I was the shattered daughter and she proceeded to pray a long, long prayer about how much we were going to miss ‘our loving husband and father.’”

Getting the most out of it
First, be prepared for it. Jan once did 23 baby funerals in a single month—which also coincided with a broken engagement. Sustaining herself during this time was incredibly challenging, and she doesn’t recommend doing CPE during a difficult personal time. “Ways to battle overwhelming sadness/hopelessness?” she says. “Surround yourself with good friends, write about it in your blog, hone your dark sense-of-humor skills.”

If not your blog (or another, more anonymous one), Abi suggests a journal for recording your personal observations. “Be open to learning, experiencing, asking questions, and be open about yourself,” she says. “Learn to give feedback without belittling the other person and to receive feedback as well.”

PPB writes, “I did my CPE as an extended unit, something I'd recommend to others highly. I was able to integrate my study of theology and the normalcy of my on-campus life with hospital life, and that worked really well for my personality.”

And St. Casserole offers, “My advice for getting the most out of the experience would be for you to invest yourself in the program as much as you are able.”

Perhaps some of you would like to share your CPE anecdotes? What to look for, what to avoid? Post them in comments below. And if you have a question for the matriarchs, send it along to

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wednesday Festival

Dear friends,
Here follows the Wednesday Festival, posted a little bit early.

Enjoy the reading -- there's lots of good stuff out there! And don't forget to nominate for next week. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged!
Reverend Mommy is in a picture sort of mood. She has put up some pictures of their fall
"cruise" around the lake and pictures of the silver bowl that she reclaimed from the trash. Also, she has found out what her obit will say. Like all the cool revs.

Going on to Perfection has had her first pastor's article appear. She also has a profound ecological, ethical, conservationist, theological post that we have all probably thought but not said.

Hipastorzwife2b wrote this parable of the book case that Jesus probably would tell today, at least to his disciples.

Terrapin Station asks us the all important question? If you're an Elder, does that make you old? Go help her figure out all the denominational differences.

Musings from the First Year Out has pictures from her ordination. Go wish her congrats.
And she has an important question about having hobbies as a minister.

Walking Wet proposes crossing a church's stewardship drive with the public radio/public television pledge drive? Maybe she is on to something. It must be the money, donation time of year because Cheesehead had two posts on it; one on the wrong kind of poor and the other on the wrong kind of generous.

Vicar of Hogsmeade writes passionately about her struggle with Rhuematoid Arthritis. Songbird has a wonderful story about being Set Free to be who she really is.

Big Dunk has a good post on the recent downfall of Haggard as does Inner Dorothy and Musings of MicahGirl is heartbroken over it. Juniper68 at Possible Water shares her take on Ted Haggard.

How many of the revgalblogpals are writing the great American Novel as part of NaNoWriMo?

Carmen's been doing some thinking about cars, God and unpacking.

Revabi wants to know your thoughts on creativity and preaching? Is creativity a part of the preaching process? Is creativity part of your preaching process? Another Unfinished Symphony shares a meditation on Isaiah.

Musing disciple has some parish members working to pave the way for a spring mission trip.
Christine is asking "where are all the men?" over at her blog, Sacred Art of Living.
She would love to hear from others about their experiences with male participation in spirituality programs. Milton has a great post on why church matters to him.

Rebel without a Pew asks how do you deal with compassion fatigue, especially among members?

Quotidian Grace has posted a preview of the upcoming PCUSA Moderator's Conference that she will be attending later this month in Louisville, KY. Also, she is serving as an election official in her precinct and will post about the events of the day in Tom Delay's precinct that evening.

Cheers, Pink Shoes

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Vote Early, Vote Often Edition

Hi friends, I hope all of you in the US voted today, or are planning to vote before the polls close! I went early this morning and did not have to wait in line. Two years a ago I waited almost two hours, even though I got there 30 minutes after the polls opened.

This week I am involved in a pulpit exchange with a sister church, who has asked me to be their guest leader for their New Consecration Sunday. Luckily, the lectionary fits quite nicely. I will concentrating on the 1 Kings passage about the widow of Zarephath and the Gospel story of the widow's mite.

The stewardship program this church is utilizing focuses on the deeper spiritual meaning of our tithes and offerings. The thrust is this: it is not enough to give merely because we are blessed with much. Let's face it, God does not need our measely little offerings. What God does instead is invite us to be co-creators with God in bringing about the Kindom. In this regard, giving fulfills a spiritual need of ours, and is not merely a "portion given back" to keep the church doors open, the lights on, and gas in the pastor's car.

I'm excited to be a part of this program, and honored to have been asked to participate. What are you wrestling with this week? Are any of the rest of you deep into stewardship campaigns yourselves?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Meet n' Greet: Reboot Edition

It's getting late so let's RAM ahead! Come on up and greet the latest to our neighborhood - don't be afraid. They won't byte.

Okay, I'm done with that. On to the intros!

Traveling Mercies (although I must admit I like the url better, 'theology nerd'.) Here you will find "The musings of a seminarian soon to be clergy on all things sacred and profane." She describes herself as "pastor in process. lover. explorer. reader. preacher. at this point in major transition."

Erica Schemper: "Presbyterian pastor, teacher, preacher, mom, occasional runner and biker, seeking to be a good disciple and make good disciples of my own kid and the kids I pastor." She has cats and a new baby girl... AND knitting needles. Don't all of those things come standard in the revgalblogpal kit?

You've Really Got to Love Your People: Reflections on life as a young, progressive, female pastor in (mostly) conservative rural America. I've been doing this church gig for over four years now, but people still say "You can't possibly be old enough to be a pastor!" Everyone says this is a good thing, but... Someone asked me recently if these four years have been a good ride. Yes, indeed. Not easy, but good. And full of stories, too many of which have been lost. Here's to saving stories!.

Take My Hand: I'm a United Methodist teenager making my way through the joys and trials known as American high school life, while looking forward to the future's possibilities in my life and Church.

there's a new wind in the Windy City (let's hope it doesn't break... sorry, it's been a long day). Written by Rachel Frey she says: I am the planter/visionary pastor of Wind of Peace Church - a vibrant, progressive, and inclusive church start-up in Chicago's South Loop. It's a great gig; I mean, I get to work for justice and to share the good news that life - and the world - can be radically different.

Amor Fati: Brooklyn: A place dedicated to learning to be present to myself, God, and others. I'm a thirty something new mom, teaching at a Christian college, feeling like a pastor but not ordained.

Head on over and introduce yourselves, and if like my older parishioners you also feel the need to apologize for me that's okay too.


Meet n' Greet Debacle

I am posting quickly from a coffee shop (with toddler running around) to say there are major computer malfunctions going on at home/office.

Meet n' greet will hopefully make it by the end of the day. Sorry...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trivia Challenge - October's Winner!

It's been quite the month over at RGBP Trivia Challenge - some categories are simply..... humbling. Other categories are so easy that the test of the challenge is over time and not content. However Satchel Pooch is October's winner and a big hip hip hooray goes to her.

Now, if you have never played, you are in for some fun - 10 questions - and the topic changes according to... well.. sometimes it is the Friday 5 that is the inspiration and sometimes it is the season. We learned that the World Series brought in the topic of baseball, but not many of us knew much about that topic.

Interestingly, there is an "awards" section now in Trivia Challenge which are called "Trivia Bucks." For each answer one answers correctly, you get a buck - so now, as I type this, I have enough for a "cheesy award". These are fictitious - but you can "buy" them if you like.

OK - this entire month, we have been in the top 25 quizzes - and sometimes in the top 10. Would it not be oh so cool if we were #1 in the number of participants.

Satchel Pooch gets to choose a favorite topic/category for being number 1 this month. Go raid her comments on her blog and put her site meter to the test. She hangs her hat at a communal type blog - Real Live Pirate - me thinks that though this blog is not an official RGBP blog, I bet that it or some of the members of that blog COULD be a part of the ring. And just perhaps this might be the catalyst for Satchel Pooch to get her a blog started. How 'bout it Satchel?

OH yeah... leave a comment on a topic you would like to see on the trivia challenge.

Sunday Prayer

Sue is feeling under the weather today so she asked me to post the Sunday prayer--here's one from my archives...

Life-giving God, we give you thanks and praise for your abundant grace. With a mighty hand you parted the waters and provided a band of Israelite slaves with the gift of exodus—a way out. In the same way, O God, grant safe passage to all who need it today—passage through the turmoil of illness, grief, and despair; passage through poverty and oppression; passage, perhaps, through toils and snares of our own devising. Where chaos swirls around us like mighty waters, lead us by your Spirit. Let us find solid ground in our walk with Jesus Christ, our guide and friend.

Powerful God, in the desert you smashed apart dry stones and made waters to spill out, enough for everyone. Forgive the times we do not trust you, when we demand miracles on our own timetable. You provided water in the desert, and manna sufficient for all; forgive us when we hoard and store up your abundant gifts for our own use. Give us the courage and faith to speak out for those in need of liberation and justice. Give us the words also to witness to your life-changing gospel in a thirsty world.

We thank you, resurrected God, that you rolled away the stone of the tomb, and a new creation poured forth. Justice and mercy roll down now and forever; peace and hope reign always. Help us to claim this new reality, in our lives and for this world. We pray in the name of Jesus, the risen Christ. Amen.


Don't forget the Wednesday Festival: it's easy! Anyone can play!

All you have to do is e-mail the Wednesday Festival team (see sidebar) with your nomination.

Nominations should be from your own blog or another RGBP ring member's. Please include a brief description of the post (a sentence is fine!) and the URL for the post, too.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

11th Hour Preacher Party

Friends, I'm home on a break from the church fair. My sermon is a gleam in my eye, except for a section about my daughter's braces. How goes it with you?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Five: Nothing But the Tooth

We are in the throes of what will (hopefully) be the final set of braces in this family, and so my mind is on the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

Please share your thoughts on the following:

1) The Tooth Fairy

2) Flossing

3) Toothpaste Brands

4) Orthodontia for Adults

5) Whitening products

If you play at your blog, please leave a comment here~and if you can make a direct link, so much the better!

I understand the link suggestion may have been confusing and have updated this part of the post. Try doing it this way:
<a href="">what you want the link to say</a>

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ask the Matriarch: About that Mission Thing...

Seeking to Serve writes:

My question is inspired by the Monday Mission Moment! I serve a downtown parish in a small city. The congregation is full of good folks—they spend their time tutoring, leading scouting troops, volunteering for Habitat and at the hospital. We also have a well-funded outreach budget, since 10 percent of all bequests and memorial funds are dedicated to outreach. However, our outreach/missions activities are... scattered. If you asked Ms. Mary Parishioner about the outreach efforts of our church, I'm not sure she'd really be able to give a good answer. So our outreach committee would like to find more structure—first of all, so that we are more effective in our outreach, but also so that our congregation really understands itself as a congregation engaged in mission in particular ways. How does one go about gathering the various scattered-but-worthwhile efforts into a coherent vision of the way in which we live out the Gospel? I have a feeling that this will involve more that making a list, checking it twice and showing it to people... what else can we do before this energy surge goes away?

Many thanks!

Abi says: How awesome that your church is ministering at the level it is! How beautiful! One idea is to have a Mission Fair that can emphasize these different involvements, and spotlight the persons involved. Each group can have a booth with brochures that show how people can be involved. I have seen this done at several different big churches.

On Sunday can have mission moments during your announcements, or invite your parishioners to come see videos of people doing missions and talking about what they get from that. You can have a brochure that describes your various missions to hand out to people and to include in "welcome" packages.

Also, some people take issue with some things about Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio, but we can learn from them, as they do a good job of involving people in missions and outreach as well as promoting it.

St. Casserole:
Why not bring up the mission of the church in worship by praying for each, Sunday by Sunday?

What about having a Moment for Mission (not an original idea, the PCUSA does this) in worship? Habitat, for example, is the focus one Sunday; another group is highlighted another Sunday. Someone speaks about the mission mentioning any current needs and how one becomes involved.

It's a good thing to have diverse mission projects. You are allowing people to choose what they have an interest in and where they think they can do the most good. I'm not sure it's a problem to be scattered around in missions. I'm grateful your church reaches out.

I think involvement in many smaller projects is probably typical of many churches of that size. I wouldn't see this as a weakness, but would use communicative tools to regularly highlight the individual projects and persons (see below).

How about a volunteer mission coordinator who is the “go to” person on all things outreach? If your parish has a mission/vision statement, look at how each of those activities fits. (And if they don’t fit, then rethink if you really need it.) For example, if your vision statement involves something like Changing the World or Making Disciples of All Nations, identify how tutoring/scouting/building houses brings that about. It sounds like your members are good about Ministry in the World and you should tout that.

Use all your communication tools. “Ministry of the Month” in your newsletter and bulletin inserts. Post notices on your bulletin boards. During stewardship campaigns, my church includes a checklist of all its mission groups with its pledge letter so that I, as a parishioner, can sign up for more information. Kids have science fairs where they deliver “posters” that have all the information on whatever their science project—you can do the same for your mission fair, and when it’s over, the posters can live in your parish hall or library or any other appropriate place for people to see. Mirror that information on your website.

Speaking of mission, folks, here’s one for you—last year, I would not have been able to had it not been for a friendly priest who helped me get to the polls when my car broke down. I’ll post more about that on the Lounge, later, but in the meantime, the holidays approacheth; send us your Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas related questions at And if you have a unique “talking up mission” strategy to share, please do so in the comments!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

For All the Saints: Wednesday Festival

A blessed All Saints' Day to everyone!

You say you didn't get enough of that Halloween candy? Well, leave it alone, and go check out something far sweeter: Reverendmother's girls and Songbird's Princess in their Halloween costumes! EDITED TO ADD: And photos of Mindy and the Baby Gator, back when BG really WAS a baby! AND photos of the cutest little bug you ever saw, and of Quotidian Grace and some darling little girls.

Walking with the Lord
Moving along to November: Amy Yarnall shares: "Life and faith shape my perspective... and gratitude makes a significant difference in how I see the musings during the month in which we give thanks..."

Songbird writes beautifully about the fear of listening to Jesus' question, "What do you want me to do for you?" After reading it, Musing Disciple was inspired to write a lovely and moving meditation on meeting Jesus face to face.

Did anyone think ministry was going to be easy?
Well, it takes exercise and honesty, folks. Queen Mum has a great post about the muscles required for ministry. And Divine Cupcake is heading off on a mission trip, but first she has taken a stand!

Don't miss InnerDorothy's post in which Sue's psyche pays an unexpected visit...

But of course, first is ordination!
Teri (Clever Title) has been ordained! And, in case you were doubting it, she LOVES her new job!

You Have To Take Care of Yourself
Lorna has posted on refreshment with a great post entitled Tanked Up (it's not what you think!) I need to print this out and post it by my computer! Then she immediately had a reminder of how fast we can get back to Running on Empty.

Human Relations 101
Salt For The Spirit confesses she has told a marital lie, and is going to quit doing it. It is a great lie, though!

Whatsoever You Do to the Least of My Brothers...
Remembering The Alabaster Jar gives us the lowdown on that (RED) shirt at the GAP. Just how is a $50 T-shirt going to end poverty?

RevAbi has a great post on Lost Voices. Even though it is about losing her voice from being sick, it is also about other voices being silenced or lost.

Just Celebrating!
Amy at Stories from the Red Tent has finished her seminary application! Huzzah, and go and read! Wonderful and moving stuff.

Sally says, "I’ve at last been brave enough to produce a Tarot reflection on the garden of Eden and a longing for wholeness!"

JWD celebrates the completion of her comprehensive exams by overdosing on a week's worth of General Hospital in one day! Did you know Luke and Laura are about to celebrate their 30th Anniversary?! (Boy, does THAT make me feel old!!!)

And we have some wonderful images of the Kingdom: here and here - from Carmen, In the Open.

Things We Love and Ponder
PreacherMom says, "My RGBPs have great taste in books and media. What about podcasts? I'm looking for some advice..."

Christine (Sacred Art of Living) is inspired by a poem, and by EVERYTHING that increases her.
Julie at OneHandClapping points us to "an interesting discussion we are having over at Emerging Women on the topic of raising the minimum wage."

And, at Terrapin Station, I'm thinking about All Saints and All Souls' Days.

If I missed you, or if there are other fantastic posts out there from The Week In Review, please let us know in the comments!