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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet & Greet

A short and sweet Meet and Greet:

Angela at hearthside.
She describes her blog this way: Adoptive parent with dh/partner and two boxers(really I'm their butler). Moved around a lot when I was younger b/c my family was military and divorced: the Netherlands, Germany, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina… Hadn’t lived in one place more than 2 years until after college. Former teacher and librarian. Currently, I’m being educated as one of a group of lay ministers for a small parish of Lutheran churches. We have been waiting to adopt a child from China for three years.

Stop by and give her a warm RevGals welcome!

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Living Flame of Love

Blessings for Pentecost! In honor of the multilingual miracle we celebrate today I offer not one but three music videos. The first and second are settings--one in English folk style and one polyphonic, in the original Spanish--of St. John of the Cross's lovely poem "Living Flame of Love." The third is a bilingual Hebrew-English song entitled Bo Ruach Elohim, "Come Holy Spirit." Enjoy them, and let us know in the comments what you sang today in worship.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Prayer for Pentecost Sunday

Holy Spirit,
you poured yourself out on the people of the early church, pour yourself out on us now.
Holy Spirit you set their tongues on fire with languages so as to speak to one another in ways that could be understood.
Set our tongues on fire to speak in different languages and ways so others may hear the good news about Jesus.

you said you had to go away so that the Holy Spirit, the advocate, the counselor would come and it was so.
Come once again Holy Spirit as the advocate that we all need, as the counselor we all need, and as the helper we all need.

Come Holy Spirit, fan your flames of love and empowerment, set us on fire for you once again. Bring life to each of our dry bones.

11th Hour Preacher Party: Greatly Exaggerated Reports Edition

Good morning, gals and pals!

Tomorrow the liturgical among us celebrate a great festival of the church. We get to wear our red stoles! We may be including Confirmation (and sometimes therefore Baptism) in our services. Will there be time to get through all the business of the day and preach, too?

Whether you're raising up dry bones or being changed by a mighty wind or still deciding where the heck you're headed, please join us here for the Preacher Party.

I've got raspberries and blueberries and a really fine pot of coffee and an array of tea possibilities, too. Let us know what you're up to today, whether you've thought up a Children's Message (lighters? sparklers? fire code breaches?) and what you hope to accomplish in your preaching tomorrow.

And if you've got nothing, well, there's always The Delta Rhythm Boys:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: The BIG To Do

Greetings from the land of the Big To-Do!

It seems like every year I enter into the summer with a growing list of HUGE projects/events/trips that seem to have a permanent place on the 'to do' list.
This year I have a huge move pending so that takes up an entire list all on its own, but it doesn't take a big event like that for me to make plans bigger than my summer can hold!
How about you?

Is this the third summer in a row you have made a pledge involving your garage and actually getting a car into it?
Did you once again miss the registration deadline for the continuing education event of your dreams ?
Are you starting to think you couldn't even find the tents, let alone get it together to pull off a camping trip?

Here is your chance to get it out into the open and OWN your Big To-Do! Who knows? Maybe making the list will help you move the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-Da!

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do?
2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?
3) What trip is on your Big To-Do?
4) What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do?
5) Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?

Thanks for playing. Be sure to make a link to your blog in the comments so that I can check out your answers.... or at the very least put checking out your answers on my to-do list. ;)

Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation in the comment box: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how to: click here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - What to Say Edition

Writer's Block...don't you hate it when it's newsletter deadline time and you just don't know what to say?

I write a "From the Pastor" article for our congregation's newsletter every other month. (I'm an associate.) I feel like this column should be devotional in nature, more like a sermon than a news article. But I often struggle with what to write about. How should I decide? Sometimes there is something in the life of the congregation or community that sparks something, but not always. What are some good topics when my well is dry?

First, a word from our newest matriarch, "Sunday's Coming", who can be followed at
Not trivial at all: on the one hand a letter is shorter than most sermons, but because it’s written people can go back over it and read it again – so in some ways you can’t ‘get away with’ things. I think you’re right to go for something reflective.
I’ve tried:
asking people for suggestions (in person, by email, on website...)
relating to dates in the calendar (St Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc)
having a series on ‘big’ questions (love, death, suffering, etc)
& even googling a question like ‘What do people most want to know?’
None of these has been totally successful, but none has been a total failure either. Just occasionally someone will refer to something I have written & it can start a really good conversation. Mostly I would want to encourage you to keep at it and live by faith – it’s amazing what the Holy Spirit does behind our backs, sometimes... Or maybe with Pentecost so close I should goes ‘over our heads’!

Singing Owl, who blogs at The Owl's Song offers the following:
I used to write a similar column. When stuck, I often read the writings or devotions of great men or women of the church—not to copy them—to get inspired. Two wonderful resources for this, both from Renovare, are “Devotional Classics” and “Spiritual Classics.” Many of the selections are relatively short, and all are well worth reading and pondering. Sometimes I would take a broad topic about which much could be said and break It into a series of articles. Like, for example, PRAYER. Big topic…so maybe consider an article on what prayer is, then one on why some prayers seem to go unanswered, and so on. Prayer, faith, hope, love, grace, mercy—all these broad topics lend themselves to pondering and “dissecting” into digestible bites of spiritual food.

Sue, who blogs at Inner Dorothy adds:
Hmmm.....I tend to write newsletters that are seasonal in nature, so the topic is sort of set for me. I like the idea of alternate month newsletters - staying connected is so important. I suppose there is the obvious "What's Happening Now" kind of topic, in which you keep folks up to date with the latest activities of the church. What if you added a theological reflection to an otherwise ordinary "announcement" type of article? In other words, try turning "We're having our spring tea" into a reflection on the wonder of God's creation and our celebration of it, along with a summer reminder of our human responsibility to be good stewards of God's earth.

You get the idea. Turn what might at first glance seem like an ordinary idea into a deeper Spirit-filled and thought-full reflection.


How about a poll? You could include an opportunity for folks to tear off the last page of the newsletter and drop it in a box in the narthex or on the collection plate answering questions such as:
* how do you like the time of worship?
* would it be helpful to you to have a printed copy of the sermon (for the hard of hearing)?
* do you attend our church's social events?
* if not, why not? Could we provide transportation if that's a problem?

There are a lot of good ideas here, but I am sure that we haven't exhausted them all! So please bring your ideas to the table, using the comment function at the close of this post.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

the late ms. wednesday fest

I'll put up nominated poats later today...the BlackBerry isn't cooperating on that.

In the meantime...share what's up in your blog worlds!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Unforgettable Fire Edition

Lessons for the coming Sunday can be found here .

What do the Holy Spirit and a charcoal grill have in common?

I thought about that yesterday as we made Memorial Day dinner on a park grill; I watched the initial rush of flame shoot into the air as we lit our charcoal; then the rhythmic dance of flickering "tongues"; finally the warm orange glow illuminating the whitened coals.

On Pentecost we celebrate that first dramatic rush of the Holy Spirit onto the infant Christian community. But in our other lessons we hear about the other, quieter ways in which the Spirit moves.

How will you help your faith community "catch the fire" this Sunday? Please share your insights as you plan, pray and write your way toward Sunday.

(Artwork from Episcopal Cafe' -- check out the art blog!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

RevGalBookPals Summer Reading Survey

RevGalBookPals would appreciate your input as we plan for the summer. Some of our previous books have been well-received and enthusiastically discussed, while others have not. We would like to widen the circle involved in making book suggestions.

In the comments here:

1. Please suggest books you think might be work for our discussions.

2. Let us know whether you would like "lighter" books for summer reading.

3. If you don't have specific books in mind, feel free to suggest categories.

4. Tell us whether we need to stick to our usual parameter of waiting for a book to be available in paperback. (For instance, Barbara Brown Taylor has a new book; should we read it together now, or wait?)

5. If you might be willing to host a book discussion, let us know that, too!

Happy Summer Reading,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Afternoon music video- Organ Improvisation

It's not often that I have the opportunity to hear organ improvisations, This lovely improvisation is fitting for this Sunday. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" is a favorite of many. Enjoy this arrangement/improvisation of this popular hymn.

What hymns did you sing in worship today?

Sunday prayer

just as you prayed for your disciples so long ago
Pray for us,
Pray for our wellbeing,
Pray for our protection.
Pray for your joy to be made complete in us.
Pray for our spiritual growth.
Pray for your truth to be made complete in us.

we often do not know how to pray,
So pray for us,
Pray with us,
That we may be one with you,
One with each other, and
One in ministry to the world.

Pray for your weak ones,
Your strong ones,
You ones who are have illnesses,
Your ones near death,
Your ones who breeze through life,
Your ones who struggle in life.

Pray for those who have lost loved ones,
Those who have especially loved ones in past wars.
Those who have lost ones in the present wars.
Those who fear theirs may die in these wars.

We join you in these prayers for all your people,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Avoiding Ticks Edition

Good morning preachers!

Avoiding ticks - - that's what I'm telling myself I'm doing since I will have to write my sermon sometime today (or tonight, more likely) instead of playing outside. Yesterday on my day off, I did some SERIOUS weeding in the over-grown jungle that is the weird side of our yard/uphill wooded area. (At dinner my husband found a tick embedded in my ear just south of where I got the upper cartilage pierced while I'm seminary.) New to this house and area of the country we loved the beautiful purple flowers the bloomed all over the last spring. We thought nothing of just letting them go. A year later and a year wiser we have discovered they are horrible creeping weeds. There's a sermon for another day in there. In fact, I think it was about this time last year that all those parables came up.

Anyway, how's your writing going? This is my first time hosting the party, but I'm not a stranger around here. I'm excited to be giving this a shot, and hope we have a great writing party together.

You can find the discussion from Tuesday here. I'm sure the breakfast food will be served shortly, but until then the coffee's on. Help yourself.

I hope you find what you need - creamer, sugar, a children's sermon, the elusive "way in," the right words for Memorial Day if you are in the US and struggling with honoring that appropriately. I'm working with the gospel and can't be more thrilled to be almost done with my 3 week series of Johannine epistle and discourse work.

What are you working with today?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Five: Vacation, All I Ever Wanted...

I'm showing my age...this was an anthem of my high school years. Wanna hear it? Give this link a try.

While you're bopping along to that (or perhaps holding your ears...?), let's think about VACATIONS! I certainly am!

1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home?

2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:

3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?

4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)

5) What's your DREAM VACATION?

Bonus: Any particularly awful (edited to add: or hilarious) vacation stories that you just have to tell? ("We'll laugh about this later..." maybe that time is now!)

As always, let us know in comments if you play. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation in the comment box: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Power Play Edition

Our question this week arose as a comment in the ATM column two weeks ago...

Despite being in full time ministry 15 years now, I have just recently come into a charge where the unofficial female lay leader, who happens to be church secretary (and wants to be my personal assistant) is severely threatened by my presence - and she has her own band of supporters who also make life difficult. I'm doing my best to be squeaky clean and professional and not get caught up in the power games that are ongoing but I resent the energy it is sapping when there is a huge parish to be served. Any advice?

From Sue, who blogs at Inner Dorothy
I often wonder why so much of our professional energy is taken up with "putting out fires" when it could be used in so many other, more Spirit-filled ways. But alas, such is parish life. I think you are doing exactly what I would recommend. Do your ministry, be professional and do everything in your power to disarm the power games. In my experience, if you don't engage in the games/battles for power, they fizzle out very quickly. Soon the unofficial female lay leader will look behind her and find out that she's out there with her banner waving, but no one will be marching behind her. Instead they will be admiring your maturity, professionalism and strength of character.

I know - all of that is easier said than done, but it's worth the effort. Ignore the nonsense and punch a pillow when you get home to let all the frustration out. Trust that God has your back and keep on with your ministry.

Karen suggests that anyone in this situation review a few good books on "Churches as Family Systems"--and perhaps pay for a consult with someone who specialized in this field if you think the situation is bad enough.

Mompriest from Seeking Authentic Voice also recommends a very useful book: Antagonists in the Church, How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict” by Kenneth C. Haugk.
There are many complicated and not so complicated reasons why people pull “Powerplay” maneuvers . Sometimes it is a fear of change. Sometimes it is a need to control. Sometimes it is just someone who has been waiting for an opportunity. And sometimes it is a person who is an active Antagonist.

The Characteristics of the antagonist: Is his or her behavior disruptive? Is the attack irrational? Does the person go out of the way to initiate trouble? Are the person’s demands insatiable? Are the concerns upon which he or she bases the attack minimal or fabricated? Does the person avoid causes that involve personal risk, suffering, or sacrifice? Does the person’s motivation appear selfish? The antagonist has a negative self-image, is aggressive, narcissistic, rigid, and authoritarian to a greater degree than a “normal” person with some similar characteristics.

Conflict with an antagonist cannot be addressed in the usual “healthy” ways because they are not healthy people; the antagonist is not interested in healing the relationship, they are not interested in the healing that forgiveness can bring; the antagonist will not change; they act this way in church and in other areas of their lives out of a sense of low self-esteem;, but churches have a way of tolerating this bad behavior longer than most other areas of life.

Any meeting with an active antagonist has the potential to be reduced to a three ring circus with the antagonist the ring-master. The primary concerns of the antagonist at every meeting are: How can I control? And How can I disrupt? These may not be conscious concerns.

The response to an antagonist:
  • Follow Established Policies;
  • Use Clear Channels of Communication and Teach Healthy Communication;
  • Have Job Descriptions;
  • Use a Broad Base of Responsibility;
  • Discipline that Works – whatever your denominational discipline procedures are – follow them;
  • Let People Know What you are going to do before you do it;
  • Have a United Front;
  • Have a support group for the church staff (and vestry?).
Of course the person may not be an “Antagonist” in which case some healthier responses may work. These include setting some good boundaries and building trust. Focusing on the needs of the church and building on the strengths of this situation are more important than catering to the person who is demanding attention and detracting everyone from the work that needs to be done. The mission of the church comes first.

From Jan who blogs at A Church for Starving Artists
Dear Sister,
This is one of those really difficult issues that makes us question:
- Is it ever a good idea to have parishioners in staff positions? (it's hard to fire a church member) - Are some lay women angry at clergywomen just because they too would like to be in professional ministry and aren't?
- Can you change a system that doesn't want to change?

First you need to pray your head off. Ask God to give you the demeanor, the words, the wisdom to handle this. (You know this part.) Then, you need to put on your big girl pants and have a meeting with this secretary and your personnel chairperson or someone else (preferably a man or someone she respects) and share that you are in a difficult situation in that you are both her supervisor and her pastor.

Boundaries are crucial: she cannot be your employee and your parishioner in the same breath. (Example: I once told our nursery director - who was a church member - that she could no longer do something and she came back with "I need you to visit my sister who is really lonely.") Stay on point with this sister in the Lord.

Next, you need to have a meeting with this secretary and her posse. This is required. They will not want to meet, but they have to for the good of the church. "I know you care about our church and for the health of the church, I need to meet with you." Again, take at least one leader with you who is supportive. And just share the truth: I am the pastor. If we are going to thrive in this ministry and serve God and this community, we are going to have to work together. My role is ___. Your role is ___. I really want to work with all of you but I've found it difficult because of: (share specific comments or situations that made it difficult to do your ministry.) Be authentic and direct. Favorite mantra: "In a healthy church . . ." as in 'In a healthy church the staff doesn't gossip about the pastor." Get a coach or counselor.

And if this doesn't improve - you probably should leave for your own sanity and well-being.

And from Earthchick at Earthchicknits
What an unpleasant and potentially dangerous position to be in, not to mention a toxic working environment. It's hard to get specific advice without knowing the specifics of what is going on, but in general I think the course you have chosen (being professional, not getting caught up in the power games) is a wise one.

Is there a pastor relations committee and/or personnel committee you could talk with about this? I have found that it is so important not to deal with this kind of problem alone. If you can bring others into the loop (without slandering the secretary), you may find your own energy less sapped; members on such a committee may also have more history with the secretary and could add a helpful perspective as you grapple with how to deal with her.

In your position, I would also want to do my best to reach out to her "band of supporters" on an individual basis - help them get to know you as their pastor, rather than in whatever light she is casting you. You may also want to consider documenting (confidentially) any problems you are having with the secretary. You never know when a written record of events might be necessary when dealing with personnel issues.

There's a lot of excellent advice there an insight or experience that you might add? Please use the comment function to join in the conversation.

May you live in God's amazing grace+

image courtesy of

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Festival: I'm Late!

Sorry this is so late...this day has not unfolded in the way I had planned it to!

Gord reflects on what an irritated eye may be saying about being the church.

The Accidental Seminarian says: I should be graduating this year but had to put it off as I had to return to work. I had an exam today but didn't think to ask for prayers - so I'll do it now. I had to go back to work to pay my way through the remainder of my seminary course, so have a pretty busy schedule. There are times that it all just gets too much for me, I lose motivation and want to give up. There are times that I am just too tired and too overwhelmed with the task ahead so would welcome your prayerful support!

- You have got it, AS! Hang in there!

Guess what, Elastigirl is blogging her pilgrimage to Iona! Go share her visit.
What's up with you this week? Share your favorite posts in the comments. And don't forget to nominate for next week by emailing to

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "'Til We Meet Again" Edition

Lessons for the coming Sunday can be found here .

At our place the other Sunday, our recessional hymn was the old favorite "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again." I thought of that while reading Sunday's Gospel lesson, where we find Jesus, on the eve of his arrest, taking care of his friends -- ironically, the same friends who, a few short hours later, will abandon him -- by commending them (and, by extension, us) to the care of his Father.

What does the Gospel lesson have to say to us about living here in that place between the "now" and the "not yet," with Jesus alive and leading the way ahead of us, but out of our sight?

And some of us may be moving Ascension Day lessons and images to this coming Sunday. How will we handle the challenge of making this touchstone in the life of the Church more than what a friend of mine jokingly refers to as, "Beam Me Up, Dad!"?

As always, please share your insights as you work and pray your way to Sunday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meet and Greet: May I Interview YOU? edition

Grab a cup of coffee


and greet our newest blog member:
reverend mom at Ministry and Parenting. She describers her blog this way:I've been a pastor for almost 25 years, a parent for 19 years, a daughter for 51 years and a sister for 46 years. My daughter came to me "for the weekend." Five years into that weekend I adopted her. Physically, she's over 20. Emotionally, she's about 13 (on a good day). She has multiple diagnoses: developmentally handicapped, possible fetal alcohol, reactive attachment disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, possible schizoaffective disorder, type 1 diabetes, and a seizure disorder. Here are the records of the challenges and rewards of being a solo pastor, a single mother, and the daughter of aging parents.


Then pull up a chair and spend some time with me while I interview you! To respond copy the questions onto your blog, answer them, then leave a comment here with a link back to your blog. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation in the comment box: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to,
click here.

1. Where do you blog?

2. What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?

3. What gives you joy?

4. What is your favorite sound?

5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?

6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?

7. Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.

8. What color do you prefer your pen?

9. What magazines do you subscribe too?

10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?

11. Why are you cool?

12. What is one of your favorite memories?

13. Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Afternoon music video- All about you

We sang this as a part of our worship this morning and it and the sermon ( I was preaching) challenged me deeply, funny how God does that sometimes! If you want to read more you can find it here. Being called Jesus friends was our theme, and we also sang the more traditional Love Divine, a good Wesleyan Hymn for our Methodist congregation!

How about you, what touched or challenged you this morning, what did you sing? Let us know in the comments.

Prayer for Easter 6B

Loving God,
We come before you humbly thanking you for your love,
We pray for those in this world who don’t know your love,
who have not experienced your love,
who are in loveless relationships,
loveless families,
loveless jobs,
and loveless lives.

We thank you for your joy,
we also pray for those who live joyless lives,
whose joy has been taken from them,
and who long for a just a little bit of joy in their lives.

We thank you for your friendship,
we pray for those who lost their friends
or are in need of a friend,
or who don’t know how to be friendly.

Lord you put your song in our lives of love,
joy and friendship
may we sing that song to those in this world
who have forgotten the song and how to sing it.
Lord may your song fill all our lives,
all our communities,
all our churches,
and our entire world
so that the entire universe resounds with your song. Amen

Saturday, May 16, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Spring Fling Edition

Good morning, preachers!!

It's a beautiful spring morning in this little New England corner of the Northern Hemisphere. It's a day for gardening and yard sales and fundraising walks and school field days college graduations and an evening for proms and parties.

What's happening in your world?

We had a great discussion at Lectionary Leanings this week if you need to prime the pump for your writing/planning.

I'm offering up coffee and tea, apple bran muffins and an encouraging word. We can do this!

Chime in below and leave a comment; we had some new preachers introduce themselves last time and I hope we'll see more today!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Five: Friends

Ever since I found out I could be the hostess for the third Friday Five of each month, I have not been able to get the thought of friends out of my mind. Being an only child (all growed up) who moved around a lot in my lifetime, friends have always been very important to me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: "The way to have a friend is to be a friend."

So today let's write about the different kinds of friends we have, like childhood friends, lost friends, tennis friends, work friends, and the list goes on. List 5 different types of friends you have had in your life and what they were/are like.

As a bonus, put a link to a new (to you) blogging friend and introduce us!

As always, let us know in comments if you play. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation in the comment box: what you want the link to say goes here. For a complete how-to, click here. myspace graphic comments

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Getting to Know You Edition

Spring is here, and so is first call interview season. This week's question comes from a candidate who is anticipating a few of the questions that call committees will ask her:

I am in the call (first) process for my denomination. Invariably with the first phone conference call the question comes, in various forms. Tell us a bit more about yourself and your family. I realize the desire to know about this potential person seeking a call in the church. And I also realize there is "their need" to know about marital status etc. If I have a need to know about schools in the area, I can ask. If I have a need to know if there are options for a spouse/partner to obtain employment...I can ask.

Does my gender and marital status make a difference on my ability to pastor a potential church?

I am single and have always been single. I have found this raises two questions. The first is sexual lifestyle and the second is how can you be effective in counseling couples with marital problems since you have lack "experience" in that area or with families with children who come to you for pastoral counseling. (note: my short answer was that I knew my limitations and would not hesitate to refer someone to a more specialized person...and that I was more than capable of dealing with the God-aspects of the people coming to see me).

In answering the "tell me more about" question, part of me wants to ignore giving them my marital status is not part of my call to the church. I also value being transparent...but resist feeling the urge to have to "explain" my status all the time.

Are other single women finding some of the same sexism? Wanting the male pastor with wife and 2.5 kids...or at least a married female pastor. Ministry is my second career and I am quite comfortable in my singleness. I do not look for that to change.

Our candidate asks for some specific advice on how to respond to the interview and the pastoral counseling questions.

Call committees are charged with the task of getting to know the candidate they will ultimately recommend to the congregation. In our denomination, a judicatory staff member will clearly identify appropriate and inappropriate questions for call committees.

Sue who blogs at Inner Dorothy and hails from Canada writes...
The question "tell us a bit more about you and your family" is a loaded question. Underlying it is the question of sexual orientation, gender identity and all kinds of other things that in my country NO employer (including the church) can ask under the Charter of Human Rights. My suggestion would be to reply with any answer that doesn't answer the question. In other words, talk about your family of origin, where they live, how often you see them, how your siblings are excited for you in your new calling, etc... anything but the "ARE YOU MARRIED OR PLANNING TO GET MARRIED?" red herring that they are whacking you with.

From Jan who blogs at A Church for Starving Artists
I was single when first called (and remained single for first 5 years in professional ministry.) My first interview after marriage and first child - going into the interview with baby spit up literally on my shoulder, I was asked if there was any way I could be a homosexual. (!) In other words - married or single - committees ask ridiculous questions as well as good questions.

Mompriest who blogs at Seeking Authentic Voice points out:
Unlike what may be possible in the secular world, as clergy we are not really able to have a private life that is completely removed from the congregation. Churches are community and clergy are part of that community, even as we lead the community. Also, unlike the secular world the family members of clergy often become part of the congregation.Therefore, like it or not, who we are as clergy persons in our professional and personal lives becomes important information for congregations.

From Jan:
The best advice I was given as a single person seeking a first call in professional ministry was this: when the committee asks if you have questions or comments for them, let them know that, as a single person, you will have friends visit you. This will be essential for your own emotional well-being. Sometimes they will be male and sometimes they will be female. Sometimes they will be married and sometimes they will be single. Some will visit from out of town. Some visitors will be family. It will be important for you to have a personal life - just as it is important for them to have a personal life.

Jan also addresses the questions that may arise about counseling:
It sounds like your imagined answers are sound. Pastoral care is not about experiencing every possible life situation and then sharing and comparing your own personal life experiences. It's about listening well and having authentic compassion. And as you said, you will consult others as necessary. In fact, a healthy congregation might engage experienced married couples to assist with pre-marital counseling as part of their ministry. Healthy, faithful, experienced parents might be tasked to lead parenting groups to support other young parents. Ministry is a team effort in a healthy church, and you job - as pastor - would be to ensure that such leaders are equipped. You are not the sole minister in the congregation if we truly believe in the priesthood of all believers. And being single/married/dating/gay/straight - none of those things matter when it comes to real care for each other in the church

From RevAbi who blogs at Rev Abi's Long and Winding Road
As far as doing Marital Counseling, you can get more training, or take CEU classes if you want to know more. I have counseled couples when I was not married and counseled families before I had children. Those things don't necessarily make for a better counselor or for a "fit" with the counselor. There is enough material out there to help with your counseling, and even if you knew how to do it; you would need to refer at a certain point anyway. The referral would happen at 6 sessions or less. It is harder to be Pastor and Counselor to a congregation. You are applying for a Pastor's job not a Counselor's job, and you can share you see yourself as the Pastor who does short term counseling as proscribed by your denominational structure.

Some final words from Mompriest
I think the most important thing is to be comfortable with who you are, answer their questions to the degree you feel you can with confidence and integrity. Find out who this community is, where their values are, and if you think it is a good fit over all, rehearse your answers to questions like these so that they reveal as much as you'd like in the way that reflects who you are, saying nothing more than necessary to be both transparent to the degree you desire and reveal your comfortableness with who you are.

Most of all, trust yourself and God, a good call is waiting to find you!

Do you have first hand experience or insights that would help our candidate prepare for the interview process? Are sexism or other -isms still rearing their ugly heads in your vicinity?
Please add your thoughts by way of the comment function.

And please send more questions our way at

May you live in God's amazing grace+

image courtesy of

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Beginnings, Middles, and other things

Widening Circles is, after a long hiatus, moving forward in the process of discernment toward ordination! Please keep her in your prayers.

It’s commencement time…please keep seminarians Elastigirl and Rev-to-be-Mibi in your prayers as they finish seminary and look forward to their futures in ministry, the job market, etc. (Elastigirl is finishing a seminary class AFTER graduation by heading off to Iona the day after commencement…! now that's sweet...)

Any other RevGals starting or finishing school? Don't want to miss a Sa-LUTE! to anyone. Let us know in the comments! Also, I know of several high school and college graduations in ring members' families; if you are writing about that, let us share in the good news!

Sally shares a poem and a grand ministry story .

Rev. Joelle marks a terrible anniversary, that of the ICE raids in Postville, IA and the human crisis that continues as a result.

I've been to visit my childhood library and learned a big story that I never heard, but that was in front of me all the time.

What other stories do you have to share? Remember that you can nominate a post for the Fest by emailing

Blessings on your each and every day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "All You Need is Love" Edition

Lessons for the coming Sunday can be found here .

Just the other day at our house we listened to the Indigo Girls' cover of the Youngbloods' "Get Together": Come on people now/smile on your brother/everybody get together/try to love one another right now.

Try to love one another. That sounds about right; because loving people can be hard work. And yet Jesus commands us to love one another. How can one be commanded to love?

I don't know about you, but for me this coming Sunday's lessons raise more questions than answers. What questions -- or answers -- are you pondering this week, in light of the lectionary? Or are you using other lessons for your worship theme and sermon? As always, please share your thoughts!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Amena Brown - He is here

I know, this is not technically "music"! Still, I find the line between word and music be be a thin one. I both sing and speak the psalms, and hear music in each way.

The lines in this poem about "His Name," along with these verses in the selection from the first Letter of John my community read this weekend, prompted me to think about the what it means to be able to call on the name of Our Salvation. Our Salvation is not some nebulous theological concept, but a tangible reality, someone we can touch - someone we can name.

...we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us. [1 Jn 3:23-24]

How did you call on the name of God today in worship -- in song, word or deed? Share with us in the comments!

Prayer for Easter 5B/Mother's day

Oh God you are so like a mothering hen to us,
You cry over us, protect us, and care for us;
God we thank you for mothering us
And we thank you for the mothers of the world.

Oh God you are the Vine dresser,
you make sure the vine is healthy,
and strong,
we thank you for making sure
we are healthy, and strong.

Oh God you are like a loving mother,
You nourish us with your love and grace every day.
Oh God we thank you loving us like a mother.

Lord, we pray now for those
who need your healing, and caring touch.
We pray for those who are the ones among us
whose mothers have died or are dying.
We pray for those who children have died
We pray for those who have had the disappointment
of not being a mother or
who are going through some kind of infertility treatment
or looking to adopt.

Lord in your mercy put your arms around each one
and hold them in thy tender embrace of love.

O God we thank you for tending to us,
We thank you for your wise counsel,
We thank you for pruning those things
that suck the very life out of us
and keep us from abiding in you.

May we abide in you always.


cross posted at revgal'sprayer blog and rev abai's long and winding road.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: How Does Your Garden Grow Edition?

Good morning, gals and pals! This morning the corridors of the education wing are lined with, you guessed it, flowers! Baskets, bedding plants, and all manner of green and colorful things, waiting to be planted in the warm spring ground. I'll also be helping to teach a group of 4th graders just a little bit about the Apostle's Creed this morning. And of course, there are those readings all about love vines and branches and love and baptism.....

How does your garden grow this morning? I've been thinking of a lot this week about Jesus' command to "abide in me": how life is all about staying connected -- to God and to one another. How does your garden grow this morning? What threatens to cut you off from the Source of Life, and how do you keep connected? I commend to you the conversations on these subjects earlier this week here.

This morning I am actually making blueberry pancakes (a rare treat in our household), and invite you to pull up a chair and join us. Also, of course, have a cup of coffee or tea; share your journey through your sermon preparations, your children's sermon ideas, or any thoughts, opinions, etc you have about this very complicated 5th Sunday of Easter, and Mother's Day.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Five: A Bug's Life

As I was walking the beach today, I was surprised and delighted to find it swarming with ladybugs. The sweet little red beetles are one of my favorite insects and also my daughter's blogname--though as of this morning she was thinking of changing it to Butterfly. I'll keep you posted.

This got me thinking about spiritual insect trivia: Did you know that medieval mystics and theologians esteemed the bee for its dedicated work and transformation of ordinary ingredients into sweetness? That Spider Woman is an important creator Goddess to many Native American tribes? Or that Francis of Assisi was reminded of Jesus not only by lambs being led to slaughter, but also by worms (think "I am a worm and no man" from the Psalms)-- so he picked them up and took them out of stomping-vulnerable spots?!
In that spirit, this week's Friday Five is a magical mystery tour through God's garden of creepy crawlies!
1. Ladybugs or ladybirds? Pillbugs or roly-polys? Jesus bugs or water skeeters? Any other interesting regional or familial name variations?
2. Stomp on spiders, carry them outside, or peacefully co-exist?
3. Favorite insect?
4. Least favorite?
5. Got any good bug stories to share?
Bonus question: share a poem, song, quotation, etc. about insects.

As always, let us know in comments if you play. Post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation in the comment box: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to,

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Passing the Peace Edition

Our question this week is a timely one:
My congregation has a weekly tradition of "sharing the peace" before the offering. Those in worship often shake hands, give hugs, or otherwise share greetings during that time. It has been suggested to me that we ought to suspend sharing the peace because of the swine flu outbreak. It's important to know that the state in which I serve is far, far north of the Mexican border, and that there are no indications of any swine flu cases in our area or in the state. I personally think the suggestion is an overreaction and that it is unnecessary to take such precautions at this time; I'm concerned that media frenzy about this is already encouraging too much paranoia. What do others think?

From one of our new matriarchs, Mompriest who blogs at Seeking Authentic Voice...
The invitation to share the peace is just that, an invitation. One may always choose not to share and simply greet without any extension of the hand or cheek. Personally I think this is a bit of an over-reaction. I live 45 minutes from the border of Mexico and we are not worried about this, nor are we forgoing the peace. We are a hugging congregation! ... I think an exchange of the peace is an important ritual that should not be alleviated out of fear. I also think that safety measures can be put in place for those who might be worried.

Another new matriarch, Sue, who blogs at innerdorothy, addressed the flu concerns in her congregation last Sunday:
"We are a caring family within the body of Christ, and sharing the peace is a joyful part of our worship. In the past week, news reports have been made about concern over a certain flu virus that has affected certain parts of the world and certain parts of our country. Some experts are now saying that the so-called pandemic is no worse than any other late-season influenza outbreak.

That said, it would be best to use common sense and even better to err on the side of caution. If you or anyone in your family has been coughing or feeling unwell this week, please refrain from handshaking or hugs and simply offer the peace with your voice and your heart. Others will understand."

Jan who blogs at A Church for Starving Artists joined many of us in encouraging common sense:
Everything we touch (hymnals, pews, doorknobs) could be infecting us. One of our elders is literally the #2 person at the FDA and she's told me that if we are simply smart, we'll all be fine. Smart means that if you are sick WITH ANYTHING, stay in your fuzzy slippers and pj's and eat soup at home. Don't come to worship/work/playgroup/Starbucks. Wash your hands often. Don't sneeze on people. And hugging is "safer" than shaking hands.

Karen notes:
If you are in a public space where people are coughing, sneezing, etc, there are enough air-born germs floating around that suspending the passing of the peace is more symbolic than anything from a health safety standpoint. Folks who are really worried or especially vulnerable should probably just stay home.

Yet anther suggestion for common sense action during cold and flu season is to have hand sanitizer visibly accessible in the worship space, and perhaps even place individual packets in the pews. All communion distributors at our church use hand sanitizer before sharing the elements.

Jacque who blogs at comptoncaresupdate notes that her congregation has only changed the worship leaders' communion practice:
I would not presume to say what others should do, however, we are not stopping the Passing of the Peace at this time. We feel the situation does not call for that at this point. We are having the elders and pastor drink out of separate small communion cups instead of sharing the common cup as they usually do. (The congregation already uses individual communion cups.)

Stacy who blogs at earthchicknits offers an important point:
I agree that the suggestion is an overreaction and I think you are absolutely right that the media has already created too much hysteria around this. The last thing I think we pastors need to do is to inject anxiety into the liturgy... I think our job is to model non-anxiousness in the face of the fear, and to extend care and compassion to those who may be afraid, without allowing their fear to set the tone for our worship and fellowship.

Diane adds:
Schools here in some areas have closed, but now the state is saying, "maybe we overreacted." There may be a time when we should abstain from passing the peace, but I think it is too early to do that.

What has been the response in your worshiping community? Do you have some words of wisdom to add? Use the comment feature to share your thoughts and suggestions.

May you live in God's amazing grace+

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wednesday Festival: The Vine

Art from Thaden Mosaics.

I'm thinking a great deal this week of how Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. This means we are connected to each other, and it seems to me that it's only in our connections and mercy and forgiveness for one another and others that we are able to bear fruit. There are some wonderful connections to be made in the posts nominated here.

Joelle says, "I gotta little conversation going on at my blog asking if we are not obligated to be tolerant of those who we deem intolerant?" Go on over and weigh in!

Jan Richardson shares, "I'd love for my fellow RevGals to know that I've launched a website at This new site enables churches and other communities to download my artwork for use in worship, education, and other settings. The site includes all the images from my blogs The Painted Prayerbook and The Advent Door, as well as artwork from my books such as In Wisdom's Path. I'm thrilled about the opportunity to offer creative support to congregations and other groups in this way."

Sally says, "Help! I need inspiration and prayer. I am working on my final MA paper, and will graduate in June, and will be installed as a minister in a Circuit in September…. Right now though I am brain dead and need help!"

Sophia participated in the annual Blog Against Disabilism Day with a post on Mary Magdalene and mental illness.

Singing Owl comments, "I had a recent conversation (sort of humorous) at our district council that has me wondering whether others think it is true that men hate going to church. And if so, why? And what can be done?"

What are your connections this week? Do you have posts that you wish you'd shared, or nominations of others in the ring? Please give them to us in the comments if so!

Remember to share your nominations for the next week's festival at

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Me to We" Edition

Lectionary texts for this coming Sunday are found here .

My pastor is fond of saying, "Christianity isn't about me n' Jesus under a blanket with a flashlight" -- in other words, the Christian faith may have a personal element, but it's never private; we're all in this thing together.

And that's what our lessons this week all seem to tell us...whether it's Philip responding to a unique opportunity to share good news with another, the Psalmist proclaiming the news of God's saving acts with the rest of the faith community, the author of I John reminding us that "love is a verb," and a sacred duty to one another, just as God has loved us, or Jesus' metaphor of Christian community as a vine -- a living, organic system with Christ at the center, whose component branches receive sustenance from the Vine in order to work for the good of the whole.

What are your thoughts as you study, ponder and pray your way into your sermons and worship planning this week? As always, please share!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Meet and Greet

It's Monday Meet and new members you will come to know us by our feet - this photo taken at our most recent Big Event in Arizona. Here a number of us got to know one another in real life, while some others got to meet again with friends from the past. Today we have four new bloggers (or, uhm, eight more feet):

RevSis at grace-capades describes her blog this way: I pastor a small but growing United Methodist congregation just north of Fort Worth, Texas. I'm married to a wonderful man (aka "The Preacher's Wife") who supports and encourages me without fail. We have two sons, the eldest is in his senior year at Texas A&M University and the youngest is a sophomore in high school. Parenting is an exciting adventure, with lots of twists and turns and tears and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter! Rounding out our family is Jasmine, the grumpy queen of cats; Big Tail, the psychotic calico cat-dog; and Rigby, the princess of the house, a rescued pound pup. Yes, we have lots of hair in our house!

RevSonja at grace and peace describes her blog this way: I am a United Methodist Pastor in a rural community in Oklahoma. I am married with three children (almost all grown) two dogs, and a cat. As the kids put on their facebook site... "if you want to know more just ask."

Staying Awake at staying awake in missouri describes her blog this way: I'm an Episcopal priest and a hospice chaplain. I've discovered through the years that staying awake takes practice.Part of that practice for me is photographing the beauty and oddities I find in my travels as a hospice chaplain serving ten rural counties.

Wanida at accidental seminarian describes her blog this way: ’m a seminarian, a woman, a God-follower, a searcher, a friend. This is a place to talk theology and talk politics. There will even be times that the two will be synthesized as both are my passions, both drive me, both are the focus of my work and my life and both impact how I see and interact with the world around me. This blog offers me the space to discuss, explore and share my involvement in the world of politics while studying for the ministry. It will contain my views, which I neither attribute as the official position of my church or of the political party I am a member of and actively involved in. And, when life is just a little too busy for me to blog, will micro-blog over at Twitter so you can also follow me there. Blessings and a never ending supply of chocolate cake.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Video: The Lord is My Shepherd

On this Sunday, learning about the Good Shepherd in many churches, I offer you "The Lord is my Shepherd" from John Rutter's Requiem. I think it paints a wonderful musical picture of the text.

What did you sing in worship today? Let us know in the comments!

Sunday prayer for Easter 4B/ Good Shepherd Sunday

O Lord, our Shepherding God,
come close to us now
Come near us in our time of need.

Shepherding God,
we need you in our time of anxiety.
We need you in our time of economic uncertainty.
We need you in a time of a globe trotting disease.
We need you to bind our wounds, pour your healing ointment on our heads .
We need the briars, brambles, and burrs puled out of our fleece and skin.

Shepherding God.
you guide us with your voice,
Help us to listen and follow no matter where your voice leads.
Help us to trust you.

Shepherding God,
protect us from the hired hands, that do not really care for us and have in the past neglected or abused us

Shepherding God,
thank you for your son who did lay down his life for hose who follow him and for those who are not in the fold yet..
Lord we pray for those who don’t know the shepherd, whose life circumstances kept them from knowing the good shepherd. We pray that by our actions, our behavior, and our reaching out into the community, they may come to know you

Shepherding God,
Renew us, Guide us with your love and renew us with your peace. Amen

Saturday, May 02, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: The One with the Shepherd

Hello, preachers and kibbutzers!! Welcome to another 11th Hour Preacher Party!!! If you're new here, or have been lurking, I hope you'll leave a comment and introduce yourself this week.

It's Good Shepherd Sunday tomorrow, for those of us following the lectionary, one of those annual events that sometimes taxes a preacher's inventiveness. To catch up on our thoughts from earlier in the week, check out the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings.

Where is the shepherd's voice leading you this week? Have anything special planned for the children's time? Share your thoughts here and we will encourage each other.

Do you have a lot on the schedule today? Tell us in the comments, and you may be sure of a sympathetic hearing!

I'll keep the coffee hot and the Diet Cokes chilled as we gather around this virtual table and get another one written, together.

(The Mafa painting of the Good Shepherd can be found on the Vanderbilt Lectionary site.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Five- celebrating the seasons of life

It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer. The BBC web-site tells us that:

Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.

Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.

I believe that we live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real celebration, and marking the passages of life;


1. Are ritual markings of birth marriage and death important to you?

2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.

3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?

4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?

5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?

As always, leave a comment if you play, and to encourage visitors to your blog, add a direct link to your post, using the following formulation:
<a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>

For a complete how-to, click here.