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Friday, July 31, 2009

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Child's Play Edition

While traveling with my 4 year old we were both pleased to find a HUGE indoor playground. Now he can maneuver himself around those things no problem but I have found myself at the top level of what amounts to a glorified hamster tube more than once either rescuing an article of clothing or The Boy himself. There was a small part of me saddened to find that I no longer had the convenient excuse to be a kid and go up in the playground, but mostly my aging knees and back were quite happy to skip the experience.

Maybe you are better at it than me, but my first-born, responsible demeanor rarely lets up enough for me to do frivolous silly things – like playing on playgrounds – without a good reason. My friend will stand up in a crowded restaurant and serenade me with an operatic rendition of Happy Birthday. My sister is very good at grabbing the joy in the moment. I seem to need a child to bring it out in me and even then… it takes a lot.

Today’s Friday Five celebrates the spontaneous child in all of us… ar at least the one that we admire in someone else:

1) On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being I can’t do this now I am about to jump into a pit of plastic balls at the mini-mall and 1 being I can’t do this now until I can get all of the fonts on my blog to match – where are you?

2) What is the silliest/most childlike thing you have done as an adult?

3) Any regrets?

4) What is the silliest thing you have ever seen another adult do on purpose?

5) What is something you wish you did when you had the chance?

BONUS: For our ‘I told you so’ sides – what thing did you skip doing and you’re really glad you did!

Please let us know if you played in the comments including putting a link to your post.

Also, I am currently at a retreat with limited internet access so if once you post you could check and comment on the person who posted before you, I would REALLY appreciate it! I will do my best to come around and check on them when I can!

Thanks for playing!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - It's My Body... Edition

Today's question gives us all opportunity to consider how much, if any, of our personal health concerns need to be communicated to the people with whom we serve.

Hi my sisters and fellow servants in Christ! I'm working through something for which I thought your group might be able to provide insight. I am a pastor in medium size church. Ordained women are a relatively new concept and practice in our denomination. In a few months I have to have surgery - specifically a hysterectomy - which will necessitate my taking at least 6 weeks off. My concern is how do I inform the "board" as well as the congregation? I'm having a hard time with the idea that people will know what I'm having done. I know it's kind of foolish in this day and age, but I'm a product of a generation that only whispered about such things and then only among women. I'm frankly, embarrassed to have to tell people about such a personal issue.

Because of the newness of women in ministry in our "tribe" I don't have anyone else to talk to. I have great male pastor friends, but the next closest female is in another state. I'd welcome input.

First of all, we offer our prayers for your health and renewed well-being!

Sue, who blogs at
innerdorothy was the first to weigh in...

I understand your concern, especially given that women's ministry is fairly new to your denomination. I spent six months on medical leave last year, so I hear what you're saying about how much or how little the congregation needs to know about your absence. In our denomination, we are fortunate to have a Restorative Care Plan - part of which specifically states that the minister does NOT have to reveal the reason for any medical absence. Any questions about the medical leave are to be directed to the individual's Restorative Care worker. Those questions are met with the following "Your minister is on medical leave and needs some time away. The reason for her/his absence is confidential, but she/he appreciates your concern." End of statement. No one needs to know the type of surgery, or even that you're having surgery at all. All they need is a note from your doctor or surgeon saying that the time is medically necessary. If people ask you directly, you might say, "Thank you for your concern, but I would prefer not to discuss it." My guess is that they won't push any further. Rumours will no doubt spread like wildfire. If people don't have information, they usually fill in the blanks with whatever they imagine might be going on. Let the rumours fly as they may, don't concern yourself with them. Rather, use the six weeks to heal and rest your body and soul from what is major surgery. Your body will need that time to heal itself - let other people's questions and curiosity be their problem, not yours. That's the best advice I've got, and it comes from my own experience. It may not fit your situation, but there you go.... I hope it is helpful in some way.

Karen adds...

I'm having a hysterectomy next month as well. What helped me was remembering a time fifteen years ago when the Senior Pastor at the church where I was an Associate had to have prostate surgery--probably an equally "embarrassing" male equivalent. He was very straightforward about it--didn't mince words, but didn't give unnecessary detail either. I've just sent out a letter to the congregation explaining what kind of surgery I am having and how long I will be out of the office. (I did this after clearing the medical leave with our Personnel Committee and with Session.) Since the letter went out ten days ago I've gotten nothing but supportive feedback--including over 20 women who have assured me that they've "been there, done that" and that I will feel SO MUCH better afterwards.

And finally, mompriest who blogs at seekingauthenticvoice speaks from some very recent experience...

This is a timely question for me, as one who has literally just gone through this. I too felt very vulnerable, embarrassed, and had no desire to share with others what I was about to go through. Very personal. What I discovered is that it is so common that nearly every woman had had one, and almost every man had helped his wife through one.
Some critical decisions: do you know for a fact that you will be off for 6 weeks? Will the surgery be abdominal or vaginal/laparoscopic? Abdominal means 6 weeks off work! Vaginal means any where from 2-6 weeks off - plus a BIG difference in how one feels and what one can do and the amount of pain. I was one of the lucky ones, needing only two weeks off.
This is what I did: I scheduled vacation time (three weeks), and figured I would return to work as able, and in a limited capacity following that time off. I exercised and got myself into excellent shape so I'd have stamina for the surgery. (Exercising may not be an option, given the cause of your symptoms). I told a few key people of the pending surgery (my parish administrator and some of the staff). I arranged for an email to be sent to the parish the day before the surgery (I wrote it, the Parish Admin sent it) informing the parish of my surgery. A follow up email was sent the day after I returned home from surgery letting the parish know how I was doing. Most of the communication to the male leadership was done via email. I did speak to a few of the women. Many of the women said to me, "You are having the surgery EVERY woman wants at some point in her life." That may not be true, especially if one is young and wanted children, then it could be a heart break. BUT for a middle aged woman who was tired of the annoying symptoms from this failing organ, it was absolutely true. In other words, it is common, and there will be a lot of understanding from women who have had it and men who have helped the women in their lives recover from it.
And in case no one has offered this, go here for more info and support: hystersisters
Prayers for you. You will feel better when it is all over!

Do you have any insights or advice to add? You can do so by using the comment function.

And remember, your questions about life and ministry are always welcome! Send them to

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Tweeting and dancing and preaching and laughing...

**Songbird has a beautiful and thought-provoking post titled "Laughing Jesus."

**Hey, you know that dancing wedding processional Youtube video - the one that's gone viral in the last week? Sure you do. But if you somehow haven't seen it, Mibi has it posted at her place, (see that link) along with an interesting conversation on whether you'd be officiating at a wedding that started that way. Weigh in, won't you?
**Deb cues us into a great opportunity:
"Hey, I think every RevGal should follow Rick Warren... at his request!. Here's his tweet: 'Friends, I'd like to FOLLOW any church planter or pastor. Please send me their twitter name. Tell them I'm at @rickwarren Thanks!'
I don't think he is expecting women to follow him, so let's."

**Scott says: "I'm doing a series of story sermons within the Bread of Life section of John's gospel over the next few weeks. The first of the series is here."

**Holly shares a request she got last Tuesday for a Sunday sunrise service: "We're having a ceremony to Honor the Ancestors. Native American elders will participate, but our usual clergy guy will be out of town. Could you give an invocation and homily about the shared history of indigenous peoples and immigrants in our state?" Here's how it played out.

Thanks to all for the great nominations! Please let us know what YOU are blogging about in the comments. Remember to send nominations to

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Bread of Life Edition

Readings for the coming Sunday can be found here .

I'm typing this while in the throes of an evening snack attack; I'm hungry, but I don't know quite for what.

That seems to be the human condition. We want...something. We don't know what. So we try to fill that emptiness with "stuff" -- with possessions, or "trophies," or experiences, or busyness.

In this Sunday's Gospel lesson Jesus suggests to those who've come to find him that they're wanting to fill themselves with the wrong things; with things like bread and circuses that ultimately fail to satisfy. I am the Bread of Life, he tells them.

How might that text preach for you this coming Sunday?

Or perhaps you've been following the David story in your sermons. How will you tackle this Sunday's installment, where David is confronted by his own guilt and the tragic, ugly circumstances of his wrongdoing?

Maybe, this green and growing season, you're thinking of preaching on the Ephesians text and its instructions for life together as a community of faith.

Or maybe your sermon text is all of the above. Or something else entirely.

In any event...what ideas are you kneading in your mind right now? What leaven is slowly working through the texts for you? As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated by us all as we pray, preach and plan for Sunday!

Monday, July 27, 2009

RevGals Book Pals: The Alto Wore Tweed

The Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer is the first in the comedic Liturgical Mysteries series. I came across these books last year and have now read every one of them, including the latest, The Diva Wore Diamonds.

Hayden Konig, chief detective of St. Germaine, in the North Carolina mountains and part-time organist/choirmaster of St. Barnabus Episcopal Church, is the protagonist. The author is also a choir director so much of the satire and humor in the books is best appreciated by readers who have spent time in church choirs of any denomination. Schweizer makes many references to his favorite classical sacred music recordings in the books, and I confess that this has sent me over to ITunes or on several occasions to buy them for myself.

Schweizer is evidently a big Raymond Chandler fan and so each mystery has a “novel within a novel” as his hero Hayden Konig dreams of writing the next big gumshoe story and his efforts are intertwined with the main mystery story line.

Another unique feature of The Alto Wore Tweed, and the other books, are the musical parodies that are part of the plot. Readers can actually download the musical scores and listen to performances of these parodies such as The Moldy Cheese Madrigal from TAWT on the publisher’s website.

I contacted Mark Schweizer and he has agreed to join in our discussion today, so please feel free to direct comments or questions to him.

And now here are a few questions to get the conversation started:
  • What did you think of Schweizer’s Chandler-style mystery parody? Did it enhance or detract from your enjoyment of TAWT?
  • TAWT includes several musical parodies: The Moldy Cheese Madrigal, The Christmas Penguin and The Three Queens. If you enjoyed them, which one was your favorite? If you didn’t like them, why not?
  • TAWT also satirizes the Left Behind series, the Re-Imagining Conference (we Presbyterians sure remember THAT kerfuffle), and competitive community Christmas displays. What did you think of those satires? (Note to those RevGals who may be sensitive to Schweizer’s characterization of the woman priest in this first book: the rest of the series features the Right Rev. Gaylen Weatherall, priest and later bishop, as a beloved recurring character.)
  • Before I forget, there was a murder mystery in the book, too! How would you rate it?
  • Why are the North Carolina mountains a popular setting for books featuring religious characters, e.g. Jan Karon?
  • Did you enjoy TAWT enough to recommend it to someone else or to read other books in the series? If so, why? If not, why not?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Prayer for the eighth Sunday of Pentecost

Merciful God we praise you for your unfailing love.
We praise you for feeding our hunger for bread and for “the bread of life.”
We praise you for taking our little basket of fish and barley loaves and using it to feed others.

Lord we ask you for your care and healing touch for those who are sick.
We ask for your compassion on those who are suffering in our world.
We ask for you comfort for those who are grieving.

We thank you for your daily tender mercies.
We thank you for your daily love.
We thank you for your daily grace.

We call upon you Lord to empower us as we declare who are to a world who needs you.
We call upon you Lord to inspire us as we seek to inspire others.
We call upon you Lord to strengthen us in our own weakness.

We ask all this in your son’s name,

cross posted at revgalprayerpals and rev abi's long and winding road

Friday, July 24, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Baskets of Bread

I'd like to share my newest favorite "bread" recipe. The neighbors taught me tonight at our cookout in my backyard. We provided homemade pizza dough which was cooked on the grill. They provided the yummy delicious-ness of fire-cooked dessert.

You take a tube of refrigerated breadstick dough - plain, the seasoned kind would be gross - and separate out all the individual breadsticks, lying them unrolled, flat on a plate or cookie sheet. Then you find a good thick stick - about 3/4 in diameter or thicker is nice. Spray some non-stick cooking spray onto the cooking end of the stick (but not into the fire). Wrap the breadstick in a single, spiral layer around the cooking end of the stick. Cook 'til golden of HOT campfire coals. When it's cooked, pull it out, slather it in butter, then cover it in cinnamon sugar. Delicious!

So, my baskets were full to overflowing last night with this true sign of the kingdom of God. (Is that blasphemous?) How are your sermon baskets feeling? Anyone wondering how "enough" is going to come out of "this? Anyone have loaves and fish to share?

After our lovely campfire night, I'm hoping the family will let me sleep in a little, but we'll see what happens. If I'm not here when you wake up, feel free to grab some coffee; I'll set the timer! Can't wait to see how the Spirit is moving among us this weekend!

Friday Five at the Perfect Church

ATTENTION! Not trying to get anyone in trouble here. So have FUN with this. It is possible!

Please pardon me for talking about church in the summer when many of you may be on vacation. However, the church we are talking about today is the one you dream of. I've been thinking about this because I miss pastoring and preaching, because I am sending in resumes, and because...well...jut because. So have some fun with this. Tell us five things that the perfect church would have, be, do...whatever.

We can dream, right?

To link to your post in the comments, copy and paste using the following formula: <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, July 23, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Brides, Grooms, and Babies Edition

This week's question invites us to think about if and how we allow our congregations to help us mark joyous transitions in our lives...

I’m wondering what advice other female pastors have to
give about baby showers. I am pregnant with my first child and serving as a
pastor at a church. I anticipate that folks at the church will want to throw me
a baby shower, but also anticipate feeling awkward about receiving gifts from
parishioners. What tips do you have for handling this appropriately? I’m
guessing a similar question could be asked about wedding showers, since that
applies to other clergywomen.

Sue from Inner Dorothy begins...
Hmmmm............I wish I could help you with this one, but unfortunately I had been married and had grown children before I ever entered ministry. Given that situation, I feel highly unqualified to answer this one. I did, however, just have a milestone birthday which the congregation wanted to celebrate with me. They had a lovely cake after the service and gave me the most beautiful flowers. A few people gave me cards, and our former admin assistant gave me a small but meaningful gift, all of which I accepted with a hearty thank you.

I understand however, that your situation is much different. On the one hand, there may be hurt feelings if you say "No, but thanks anyway" when someone wants to have a baby shower for you. On the other hand, there is that unspoken inappropriateness about clergy accepting gifts from parishioners. It's a dilemma, to be sure.

My thinking about baby showers (and maybe this is just a personal thing for me) is that they should never happen before the birth of the baby. Ever. Church showers or not. I'm not a superstitious person, but a practical one. The needs of the family are better known after the child is born.

What if, instead of a traditional baby shower, you asked them to have a Baby Blessingway like the one we had online for reverendmother? People could come and bring a favourite poem, or write a letter to the new baby for the keepsake box, or even record a message or a piece of music. Perhaps someone could be responsible for creating a prayer circle that will begin when your labour begins. Someone could make sure that a candle is burning and that your family is being prayed for when the birthing starts. That way, the gifts would be more symbolic and less "where are you registerd?" centered.

Just a few thoughts from someone who has not been there....

mompriest who blogs at Seeking Authentic Voice
It is a good idea to let our parishioners care for us, in a limited way. Done appropriately this builds mutuality and deepens trust. If they want to have a baby shower ask that it be a theme, like baby clothes, something relatively inexpensive. You can also make the theme a two for one: one baby item for the Pastors baby and one item for the local foster children's association - so that every little gift to you is matched by a gift to a charity. Also, one couple I know asked that all their gifts be a donation to a charity. That's an option too - have a shower, but all gifts go to a charity.

Earthchick at earthchicknits offers some first-hand experience
I would absolutely allow them to give you a baby shower if they desire. I feel very strongly about the importance of allowing ourselves as ministers to receive the care and love of congregants, in whatever appropriate ways they seek to give it. Accepting the gifts they seek to give is a way of honoring them, just as they are seeking to honor you by giving. You will be giving them a gift by allowing them to celebrate this milestone with you, and the celebration may also help to alleviate some of the anxiety they may be facing over impending maternity leave and/or your changing status (into a mother, and therefore someone who may not have as much time for them).
The women's group in the church I serve threw a shower for my husband (and co-pastor) and me when we were expecting twins five years ago. It was a church-wide event - there were some elderly men there who had never been to a baby shower! Even though other church members had only had showers attended by a small group within the church (the choir, or a women's circle, for example), the birth of pastors' children seemed like a nice occasion to include every part of the church family. It does feel a bit awkward to be the center of the entire congregation's attention over something that is not church-related, but mosty we just felt honored at how sweet and generous congregants were with us. Some of the drawings and notes the children of the church made for the shower remain some of our most treasured baby shower mementos. (In fact, we recently showed our sons some of these drawings, which they thoroughly enjoyed seeing)
My advice would be: yes, let them do whatever they would like to do. Just make sure that you give a small thank-you gift to whomever does the organizing, and that you write a thank-you note for each gift you receive (instead of a blanket thank-you note in the church newsletter, for instance).

And finally, a little something from Diane at faith in community
One of my friends went to seminary in the late 1970s, when there were still few women ordained in my denomination. She remembers talking with congregations who were having some angst about calling a woman pastor. "What if she gets pregnant?" someone asked. My friend's response: "Throw her a shower!"
If the congregation in question is a healthy one, my inclination is to go ahead and let them throw a shower, and receive the love and grace that they extend at this time.

What do you think? What stories or advice can you add? Use the comment function to let us know what you think...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Summer Sampler

Image: Corbis

You are invited to join See-Through Faith on a voyage of discovery. She is also wondering if God is lonely.

Sally is asking for our prayers as her Chris is undergoing his heart surgery today. Sally, we are with you.

Christine at Abbey of the Arts invites us to this week's Photo Party...go see!

Kristin at Liberation Theology Lutheran shares a wonderful post, Come Meet My Gods.

And a new feature for the Wednesday Festival: the classifieds! Betsy says: "I'm Betsy, a RGBP poster who has a church blog, but not a personal one. As a result, I can't really link to this offer, but the Wed. Festival was the one place I could think of to put it: in cleaning out drawers, I came across 2 of the small white plastic tab collars for clergy shirts. I don't have any shirts of that type anymore, and it's not likely to be a hot item on Freecycle, but I wondered if one of the RGBP folk could use them. I'd be glad to drop them in the mail to anyone! If someone is interested, a note in the comments would let me know to get in touch via e-mail."

Happy to help, Betsy! I'm sure that one of our folks will be glad to take you up on that offer.
Let us know what you are writing and thingking about using the comments. And remember to nominate for the Festival each week at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Supersize It" Edition

Readings for the coming Sunday can be found here .

What are we to make of God's abundant love and extravagant grace? That's the question this Sunday as Jesus demonstrates these things in a very tangible, tasteable way to a hungry crowd.

What are your thoughts as you prepare to talk to your congregation about Jesus' feeding of the 5,000? Or are you going to address the walking-on-water miracle, tacked on almost as an afterthought to the text? Or are you preaching on another text this Sunday? As always, share your thoughts here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Author To Join Mondays Book Pals Discussion

Hot off the presses--

Mark Schweizer, the author of this month's RevGalBookPals selection The Alto Wore Tweed, has agreed to join our discussion of the book which is scheduled a week from today!

See the left sidebar for a link for more information and to purchase the book.

The Alto Wore Tweed is a great summer read and the first book in Schweizer's hilarious Liturgical Mysteries series. So if you love it, you can always read more.

Monday Meet n' Greet

We have one new member to introduce today, and while her Blogger address is new, she had a long history of blogging in another format. I hope you'll welcome Christina Whitehouse-Suggs, who says:
I'm a chameleon who struggles with finding a color of my own. I'm a performer who often loses my voice only to find it in silence. I'm a minister who is more comfortable among sinners than saints.
You'll find her as c_w_s at Thoughts from the Journey and on Twitter, too! You'll find her Twitter feed in the sidebar of her blog.

Which raises the question, bloggers, how many of us are also on Twitter? If you are, do you link to Twitter from your blog or from Facebook? And how does anonymity come into play for you?

Let's talk about it in the comments!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Afternoon music video- Praise God

This week we have been on a vacation, which took us to places in the Carribean. On Tuesday, we visited Belize and had the pleasure of visited the oldest Anglican cathedral in Central America. Two hundred years old, its structure was made of brick which traveled all the way from England. Inside the pews were made from the mahogany that was cut from the forests in the surrounding area. Stained glass graced some of the windows, while some of the windows were open to the stained glass of the outside world, allowing breezes to cool the inside. The guide shared with us that the organ was no longer functioning and they were hopeful that one day it could be repaired.

There was a side chapel in which there was a Eucharist service was being celebrated. I could peer into it through a side door and noticed a chapel full of women and small children there. Soon after, I heard them break into song - as it was the doxology following the offertory and the preparation of the table.

No organ was needed for these folks - their voices offered the perfect background for Thanksgiving - clear and angelic, they made their heart and soul heard in which no organ could offer. How I wish I could have captured that to share with you.

The following is the same hymn with organ with all its majesty, with pictures of British Cathedrals. Though it does not capture the essence of the raw beauty of unaccompanied voices, it's one that is heard the world over.

For what are you giving thanks for today? Did any music speak to you today that you would like to share?

Prayer for Proper 11B/Ordinary 16B/Pentecost 7

Compassionate God,
You have compassion enough for all.
Lord in your mercy,
Have compassion for us.

Jesus, out of your compassion for us,
you invite us to come away with you
to a place of rest and quiet.
Help us to say yes and then
to be able to come away with you.
Lord in your mercy,
Have compassion for us.

Lord, out of your compassion you care for
Those who are harassed, helpless, and
Lost. Sometimes we feel that way ourselves
Lord in your mercy,
Have compassion for us.

Lord in your compassion teach us to follow you,
to trust you, to love you and to love as you love.
Lord in your compassion feed us who are hungry;
Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Lord in your compassion heal us in the places we need healed.
Lord in your mercy,
Have compassion for us.

And Lord in your having compassion for us
Teach us to have compassion for others as you do.
Help us to show compassion in action the way you did.
And remind us when it is time to come away with you
for quiet and rest.
Lord in your mercy,
Have compassion for us.

cross posted at rev gal prayer pals and rev abi's long and winding road

Saturday, July 18, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: You Can't Always Get What You Want Edition

Hello, preachers! It's Saturday. Do you know where your sermon is?

If you're looking for inspiration and you're a lectionary preacher, check out the texts here and our Tuesday discussion here. And if you are not, tell us what you're thinking about for this week.

The gospel finds Jesus seeking a bit of rest and not succeeding, while one of the Hebrew Bible lessons shows Nathan giving David some disappointing news. How do we handle it when we want to do something and don't get the opportunity?

Here in Maine the weather is threatening outdoor activities. How are things where you are? Is summer a quieter time or does it bring unusual activity?

I'll keep the coffee coming and I believe the forecast here is "Cloudy with a Chance of Coffee Cake." Let us know what's going on in your world by leaving a comment below. We'll be here all day -- and some of us all night!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Five: GAMES!

In less than three weeks, my family, including children and their partners, will be gathering in Seattle, WA for 12 days. After various days in Seattle sightseeing and in Bellingham seeing family, we will travel to the coast of Washington State to spend three nights in a large rented house. With nine adults (from almost 20 years old and up), I am thinking that we need to have some activities pre-planned--like GAMES! (Any ideas will be appreciated.)

So this Friday Five is about games, so play on ahead. . . .

1. Childhood games?

2. Favorite and/or most hated board games?

3. Card games?

4. Travel/car games?

5. Adult pastimes that are not video games?

Bonus: Any ideas for family vacations or gatherings?

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.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Hard Sell or No Sell?

Our question this week raises a fairly typical and often unpleasant tension within churches, a tension that is frequently grounded in anxiety about church growth. Our matriarchs offer some good thoughts.

Our church has a few folks in the community who visit from time to time, often drifting in and out of the life of the church seasonally. Since the church is small, it is always very obvious who is a visitor and who is a member on Sunday morning.
Right now there are three couples who do this. I know who they are, I know what their situations are, and I have talked to each of them about whether or not they are interested in any "next steps" and so far, all are content to be visitors, and my impulse is to honor that.
One couple in particular introduced themselves to me on the first Sunday they visited as members of "St-So-and So" around the corner, and on the visitor offering envelope they write their names but not address or phone numbers. I take that to mean they do not wish to be visited or called, and make a concerted effort to speak with them after worship every time they are here.
My approach when someone introduces themselves as a church member somewhere else is "hands off". That is to say be warm and welcoming but don't try to sheep steal. I know the meaning and context of name-on-the-dotted-line membership is changing, and I think the church's attitude needs to change with it. Some people will not join, and that's okay with me.
However, I'm getting pressure to put on the full court press with these folks. Is my approach pastoral? Biblical? Good discipleship? Or am I not trying hard enough?

Sunday's Coming responds:
My first reaction is to encourage you to keep to your instincts to be truly hospitable and allow these folks to relate to your community at the level with which they are happy. (I suppose this is a ‘pastoral’ response – and for what it’s worth, this is the line I always take myself.)

If you’re worried about winning others over to your way of thinking, maybe a Biblical approach would help.
Jesus, of course, calls people to follow him: always did, always will. But nowhere do I see signs of Jesus building anything other than the kingdom of God. Our perspective needs to be a kingdom one, too – not building up our own little empires. Jesus said ‘I will build my church’ - not ‘I will ask you to build churches’. Of course we do build churches and at their best they help God’s people to grow in faithfulness and follow Jesus.

If people in your church are asking you to encourage others to join the fellowship without regard to pastoral need or point of pilgrimage, maybe you could question them ‘why is this right for that person right now?’ - it feels as though there is some unspoken assumption that it is ‘right’ to round up as many sheep as possible: it just isn’t!

Diane writes:
I think this pastor's approach is spot on. A "hard sell" rarely or never works, anyway. I also agree with her about sheep-stealing. If people express an interest in joining, that's one thing; but I would never make a play for people who identify themselves as members of another church. She might remind the people who are pressuring her that the "full court press" will probably backfire.
There are times, of course, when a gracious invitation to affiliate with one's congregation is appropriate; but this situation doesn't seem to be one of them.

Rev Honey says:

There has definitely been a significant increase in the number of persons who regularly attend and financially support our congregation, yet prefer not to become members. This trend doesn’t make sense to those who have “signed on the dotted membership line” over the years.

Some of our members have expressed frustration that I have not “gotten these persons to join.” I explain to them that I have spoken personally with any of these individuals who have given us contact information and, for whatever reason, they do not wish to join. I also explain that the only thing these persons cannot do in the life of our congregation is to vote in congregational meetings. Generally when I say that, the questioners back off.

I think your approach is spot-on. I believe that we need to be intentional about cultivating emotionally healthy relationships that respect people where they are. I do not want to teach co-dependent behavior, sheep-stealing, or an unhealthy focus on “the numbers.” Members and regular attenders alike need to know that they can ask for what they want in our community of faith, and their choices will be honored.

Sue adds:
I tend to think along the same lines as our questioner this week. We have some folks who like to pop in from time to time just "for a change of scenery" or just to hear a different kind of sermon, or whatever. I always welcome them, make a point of saying hello and introducing them to at least a few people in our congregation that they may not have met on their last visit.

My sense has sometimes been that we were sort of a calm in the spiritual/theological storm for some of these folks. They were either church-shopping or not content with the theology coming from their present pulpit (this was definitely the case with one family) and needed a place to visit without the hard sell. They came to our church because we have a reputation in the community of being "welcoming but not smothering" as one of our Rev Pals once put it.

Personally, I think people are grown up enough to make a decision about where they will worship without any added pressure. Our little church will continue to be what it is - if a family decides that it is a good fit, we will rejoice in that. On the other hand, if after a few visits it isn't working for them, then all I can do is pray that they find a more appropriate spiritual home.

Also, I'm just not comfortable with even the appearance of "sheep-stealing" by pressuring folks to make a firm commitment and transferring memberships and such. I guess the hard sell just isn't for me.

We have a fairly unanimously opinion among the matriarchs this week. What about the rest of you? What is your experience in this area? How have you handled church members who pressure you to turn on the hard sell? How have you handled visitors from other congregations, especially those who settle in long-term without officially joining? Please share your thoughts!

We have many questions lined up in the queue. If you have a question you want the matriarchs to discuss, please send it to us at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Pals Reminder for July

On the last Monday of this month, the RGBP Book Pals will be discussing The Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer. This is the first in his hilarious Liturgical Mysteries series which includes The Bass Wore Scales, The Soprano Wore Falsettos, The Tenor Wore Tapshoes, etc.

The Alto Wore Tweed introduces you to St. Germaine, North Carolina and Hayden Konig--chief of police and choirmaster extraordinare of St. Barnabus Episcopal Church. He is also a big fan of mystery writer Raymond Chandler, who he tries to imitate. The author is also a church musician and his send-ups of the follies of church life are spot-on. And funny!

How can you resist a book that features a Christmas pagent entitled 'The Penguin of Bethlehem" set amidst the town's Nativity Feud between the Kiwanians and the Rotarians. Or the author's setting of The Moldy Cheese Madrigal?

For extra credit, go to the publisher's website here and you can download the music to the Moldy Cheese Madrigal ("some milk and moldy cheeses we give to the Holy Jesus. Fa-la-la-la etc.") or listen to a performance of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Get the Hook" Edition

The coming Sunday's lessons can be found here .

This week's readings are full of sheep. [Rim shot!]

And shepherds.

Here in Lutherland our OT lesson is Jeremiah's rebuke to baaahd (sorry) shepherds, paired with God's promise to restore the wholeness and safety of the flock. Some of you will instead be reading the story of Nathan receiving a word from God about establishing former shepherd David as ruler over the flock of Israel. Some of us will also be hearing the familiar words of Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd..." And in the middle of Mark's terse, action-packed text we hear the poignant story of Jesus, who's trying to take his road-weary disciples on a retreat in the wilderness, instead being met by more people needing help and hope...and, instead of saying, "Come back in a few days when we're rested and ready," having compassion on these "sheep without a shepherd" and caring for them where they were.

What words to we have to share with our own flocks this Sunday, about shepherds and sheep? What do the texts have to say to us, in our respective vocations within the Body of Christ? As always, feel free to post your comments here!

Monday, July 13, 2009

2nd Monday Possibilities

When we talked last month about a new feature for the 2nd Monday, we got a lot of great ideas, including:

  • exploring a different spiritual practice each month
  • sharing favorite links (both blogs and other websites)
  • sharing things for which we are grateful
  • or sharing sitings of God
What we need now is to get a sense of which would be most desired by the wider group, and to recruit someone(s) to host the feature. Please let us know in the comments if you might be interested!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Elijah Rock

In my community today, we read from the minor prophet Amos. Then we heard from the pulpit a challenge to let ourselves not only listen to what prophets old and new have to say to us, but to be prophets ourselves, in word and action. We are called, we are chosen. Here and now.

Moses Hogan's arrangement of the spiritual Elijah Rock sounds prophetic to me. The word is sometimes loud, sometimes whispered; it can be piercing or deeply sustaining; it is on the move, first in one section, then in another; but the voice of God is heard regardless.

What did your community give voice to today in song? Let us know in the comments what music moved you, what music called to you!

Just the vocals:

Elijah Rock - Moses Hogan Chorale

Prayer for Proper 10B/Ordinary 15B/Pentecost 6

Dear God,
Thank you for this new fresh day.
We thank you for the rest from the night before.
We thank you for this day of Sabbath you have given us;
A day of rest in you,
A day of relaxation in you, and
A day of recreation in you.

We need this time with you Lord,
In the hustle and bustle of our lives.
We need this respite with you Lord,
In the tiredness of our lives.
We need this repose with you Lord,
from the tenseness of our days.
We need this leisure with you Lord,
from our overworked jobs.

So Lord,
Thank you for the Sabbath that quietens our souls
So that we may hear you.
Thank you for the Sabbath that rests us
So that we can draw near to you.
Thank you for the Sabbath that relaxes us to be able to
Open ourselves to your grace.
Thank you for your Sabbath that recreates
us in a time of play with you.

cross posted at rev abi's long and winding road and at revgalprayerpals

Saturday, July 11, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party - A Heady Affair

OK - so, puns aren't usually my thing, but I couldn't resist.

There are definitely some rich and image-filled texts to work with this week - dancing before God and kings, heads on platters, plumb lines. On Tuesday it looked like there were a lot of folks going with David, but there was a smattering of everything being tossed about?

Are there any Reformed tradition folks recognizing the Blessed Birthday?

What are you thinking about? Where are you going? What do you need?

As always there are snacks, sermons, prayers, intros, illustrations, and support to just wrap it up and preach it! Stop in when you can and enjoy the party. Like the lectionary this week, there's rarely a dull moment!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Five: Exercise

I just got back from an 8 mile bike ride down the beach boardwalk near our home, and was struck with the number of people out enjoying physical activity. Runners, other cyclists, surfers, swimmers, dogwalkers, little kids on scooters....

It's easy to lose track of my physical self-care in the midst of flurried preparation for a final on-campus interview Monday for a college teaching position in the Midwest (prayers welcome!) and the family move that would accompany it. But each day that I do make time to walk or ride my bike it is such a stress reliever that it is well worth the time invested!

So how about you and your beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit?

1. What was your favorite sport or outdoor activity as a child?

2. P.E. class--heaven or the other place?

3. What is your favorite form of exercise now?

4. Do you like to work out solo or with a partner?

5. Inside or outside?

Bonus: Post a poem, scripture passage, quotation, song, etc. regarding the body or exercise.

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, click here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Touchy-Touchy!

Our question today is a touchy one! How do you deal with parishioners who are touching or handling you in ways that are inappropriate or make you uncomfortable?

I'm a minister-in-training with the Church of Scotland and have been very aware of well, 'touchy-feely' parishioners/ folks visiting service. Now, I'm generally a tactile type, but... well there are limits!
Here's an example:
I was on placement at a central church in the city - and the only female on 'team', which was absolutely fine. Anyhow, it was a 'rugby' weekend when Ireland where playing Scotland. After the 1st morning service, 3 huge men [really, almost 7 foot high x 7 foot wide, they had obviously played rugger in their younger years!] came out of the service, whereupon one of them tucked me under his arm and said 'well, we thought we'd teach you all a lesson in how to play rugby.'

There were a couple of thoughts that came to mind:
1/ knee said guy in the groin for being way too familiar, in Christian love of course.
2/ knee him in the groin anyway just for boasting about their team winning!!
3/ respond graciously to the over-familiarity, because as a woman and as a professional, that's what we have to do.

Of course, I opted for number 3 and made a gently humorous and extremely gracious quip back with a smile, although I was inwardly fuming. All was fine and off they went.
However... they would never have done this to the male ministers. Why is it that some chaps think they can get away with invading a woman's personal space in such a way, when they would never dream of doing the same kind of thing to a male minister?
While I don't want to be stand-offish and cold, I also do not want to be literally man-handled. How do you deal with this subtle/ not so subtle sexism... and, should I just have gone for option one!!?? :)

Sue responds:
First, let me say that you handled this very well and with a lot of grace. Their behaviour was entirely inappropriate of course. After all these years I am still dealing with subtle and not-so-subtle sexism in the church - even in my uber-liberal denomination.

In my own congregation, two women clergy came before me, so my credibility was intact before I even stepped in the door. They understood and had no problem with women in ministry. They still have no issues there.

However, we are in amalgamation talks with a church that used to be Methodist and became part of the United Church of Canada in 1925. They have never had an ordained female minister. Ever. I'm preaching at their church (with both of our congregations) for five weeks this summer. Last week was week 2.

One fellow, who should and does know better, stopped me at coffee time and said, "That's a nice suit" - then he stepped his whole body back, put up his hands, laughed and asked, "Or is that sexist??"

Now, why did he have to add that? I pretty much pretended I didn't hear it, or understand it, and carried on the conversation briefly before moving on. I didn't want to start a scene in coffee hour by kicking him in the groin. :)

Another gentleman, the same day, at the back of the church following worship awkwardly shook my hand, had trouble looking me in the eye and said, "Thank you....uh....Miss." It wasn't his fault. He has no context in which to place me. There I am conducting worship in alb and stole - something he's not at all familiar with - and he stumbled on the exit. That gentleman I can understand. The other guy (the suit guy) knows better. That's the difference for me.

It's a matter of whether someone is just generally confused about how to receive you and honour your presence - as unusual as it may be to them - or someone who is just trying to get under your skin.

In the first case, I responded with gratitude. I wish I had a better answer as to how to respond to the ones who are just messing with my head. I do know, however, that this will come up at our summary meeting in the fall when we have both church councils together to talk about how the summer went. The Other Church, in our case, needs to do some intentional learning where women and the church are concerned.

Sunday's Coming writes:
You are entitled to have your own physical boundaries respected. Personally I wouldn’t worry about seeming ‘cold and stand-off-ish’ if this means that men don’t patronise you – it is up to you when you choose to let your guard down, not them. There’s also an important issue here that what happens to a woman minister in front of the congregation sends out important signals to all the people there (especially young women).

I have (even by quite close friends) been described as a ball-breaker, but I won’t put up with anything that I think sets a bad example: it is striking that I don’t have to do or say anything to impose this, people just seem to pick it up. (Psychologists might want to talk about eye contact or ‘bearing’ or other non-verbal signals).
In private of course I am as warm and friendly as the next person – but in front of a congregation I hope I am professional & I expect to be treated as such.

Just call me prickly!

As Sue makes clear, the issue isn't always one of physical touch - sometimes what a person says can be just as inappropriate. I'm guessing that many of us have dealt with suggestive or otherwise inappropriate comments from parishioners or colleagues. In some ways, this issue is no different from us than for women of any male-dominated profession. But in other ways, our situation is unique - we are expected to give and receive hugs, to allow for (and even nurture) a certain level of intimacy with people, etc. In short, our work is relational, which can blur the boundaries even more for people who might already be a bit confused about how to deal with us.

Our two matriarchs have offered some good thoughts. What about the rest of you? Any advice for our colleague?

We have some more great questions lined-up in the queue. As always, if you have an issue you'd like the matriarchs to discuss, please email us at

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Dog Days

Did you know that in the Northern Hemisphere, the Dog Days of Summer run from July 3 to August 15? In the Southern Hemisphere, you're looking at January to early March. There's your fun fact for the day! (Source: my Returned Peace Corps Volunteers calendar & Wikipedia) . Walking out my door this morning was very DOGGY in that sense. Hoping that your weather is nicer.

Over at Eternal Echoes, Sally shares how a meeting with a friend got her thinking about grace-filled listening to those with whom we don't necessarily agree. Her post specifically refers to issues of theology and practice, but I can't help thinking how important this is in many, many areas of our lives, and on many topics.

I'd like to introduce Niwaki, who will be joining the Wednesday Festival hosting rota soon! Go over and say hello.

What are YOU thinking and blogging about these days? Let us know! You can 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.

And remember, to nominate a post (your own or someone else's) for the Wednesday Festival, simply mail to

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Get A Head Edition"

Readings for the coming Sunday can be found here .

(My apologies for the late posting -- my day began at 4:30 a.m. when we dropped off our kids at Detroit Metro, then continued to the VA hospital in downtown Detroit for Fellow Traveler's earlybird appointment. After we finally got home my first agenda item was a serious meeting with a pillow.)

Talk about thematic whiplash this week -- we begin with the story of a somewhat reluctant prophet -- "Hey, I'm just a small-town dresser of sycamore trees; God's really the one telling you this" -- getting a less-than-enthusiastic reception from the Powers That Be; we abruptly move into a soaring description of God's love and care for the people of God, chosen from the beginning as part of God's glorious plan for the eventual gathering up of all creation into Godsself; then we careen into the story of John the Baptist, another prophet found perplexing by someone large and in charge, who winds up losing his head -- literally -- for his dedication to God's truth.

So is being chosen by God a good thing or a bad thing? Yikes.

So how will that preach on Sunday? Or will you be preaching on other texts/themes? As always, please share your thoughts here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday Meet and Greet: New Team Introductions

Happy Monday, everyone!

As you heard last week, mompriest will be shifting her duties and has "retired" from hosting the Meet and Greet after a much-valued ministry of hospitality among us. Thanks, mompriest, for your efforts over the past two years! She will still be writing Sunday Prayers and look for her to join the Preacher Party rotation, too.

Mary Beth and I will be sharing this feature going forward, and we will be assisted in our work by two people who have been part of the team for a long time, though their work is behind the scenes. The Membership Committee includes DogBlogger of Dog and God and Teri of Clever Title Here. When bloggers apply to join the ring via Ringsurf, the three of us check to be sure the new applicants meet our requirements for membership (as displayed in our sidebar and here below):

Membership in the ring is open to bloggers who are:
1. Women clergy, women church professionals, and women religious, or those discerning a call to Christian ministry.

2. Women or men blogging pals of (1).

3. All committed to building a supportive online community for women clergy, women church professionals, and women in religious life.

4. You must be an active blogger for the previous three months in order to join and to maintain membership.

We also check to be sure our ring code is displayed on the new blog.

Most of the time the answers to the questions above are fairly obvious, but just in case there are concerns I am glad we have a team to check into them. For instance, we occasionally consider exceptions to the three month rule: did the blogger have a previous blog and move? or has the blogger changed to preserve anonymity or to throw of the cloak of a pseudonym?

Including Mary Beth, we now have a membership committee composed of two clergy members and two lay members, representing the Episcopal Church USA, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. If you serve or belong to another denomination and would like to see it represented, please send us an email to volunteer.

We currently have 323 blogs listed in our sidebar, though that does include a few special cases. Every six months or so we go through the list carefully to delete inactive blogs and broken links.

Recent members and applicants have connected to us by "meeting" some of our members via Twitter! It's a new day.

And I hope yours is beautiful.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday Prayer Prophet edition

God of all,
We know you sent us out to do your work, to face rejection, to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God, to have people turn their backs on us, to be your prophets, to be laughed at, to heal the sick, to be dismissed, to travel light, sometimes broke and sometimes penniless, and sometimes rich and wealthy.

We are reminded to shake the dust off of our shoes when we are not welcome and not listened to. We are reminded that in our weakness you are strong. We are reminded that in all of this Jesus too was rejected and a scandal to many.

Lord today some of us today some of step into pulpits as your prophets in places where we have been treated less than kind, and sometimes out right rejected. Lord, pour your healing salve into the wounds we carry.

Today, some of us are so wounded from the attacks that it is hard to lift our feet to shake the dust off our shoes, pour your healing grace over us that makes Christ power perfect in our weakness.

Today, some of us feel like total failures and like giving up, pour your steadfast love into us that we may see ourselves as you see us, and not give up as you yourself did not give up. Amen

Saturday, July 04, 2009

11th Hour Preacher Party: Fireworks Edition

It's the 4th of July, so for those of us in the U.S. it's Independence Day! And while we may love the holiday for its own sake, it may also put some pressure on our worship planning. But it strikes me that this week's texts from both Ezekiel and the gospel invite some comparison to the holiday, because the appearance of a prophet will usually light things up, just like fireworks.

Let us know how you're celebrating, if you are, and share thoughts about tomorrow's sermon. I've got marshmallow squares to share and later I'm going to try a new recipe for Blueberry Buckle. How about you?

Join the discussion in the comments; let the fireworks commence!

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's all about the look- Friday Five

In readiness for my move in 6 weeks time I spent almost all of yesterday morning sorting through my wardrobe ( closet, I am so British :-) marvelling at how I had accumulated so much stuff! The result is three large sacks full of clothes to be given away. Some came into the category of " what was I thinking", some too big now ( at last), and others I will never shrink into again. Some are going simply because I want to streamline my wardrobe.

So how about you:

1. Are you a hoarder, or are you good at sorting and clearing?

2. What is the oddest garment you possess and why?

3. Do you have a favourite look/ colour?

4. Thrift/ Charity shops, love them or hate them?

5. Money is no object, what one item would you buy?

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,
click here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Hosting Male Friends

Today's question poses a problem unique to single clergypeople:

I am a young-ish 30-something pastor, serving an established, traditional congregation within a conservative -- although not generally repressive (depending on who you ask) -- denomination. The church is filled with folks my parents' ages and a few newer, younger members.

Here is the issue: I went to seminary in my denomination. As a result, most of my best friends are men -- married and single. I have always thought that I would be able to host them in my home -- no problem -- should they come to visit. Recently a parishoner's comment led me to question that assumption. Although it is not an issue yet, it seems it WOULD be an issue for some members of the congregation if I were to have out-of-town guests of the opposite gender to stay with me.

On the other hand, it is an issue for ME not to have my guests stay with me. It feels like a breach of hospitality, not to mention I feel like a teenager -- having to "avoid the appearance of evil" and, as a result, miss out on the privilege of being a hostess to certain out-of -town guests.


I personally had this same problem in my first parish. I was 25, single, living three hours from all my friends (meaning most visitors would want to stay overnight), and pastoring in a town of 1100, where everyone knew everyone's business. When my boyfriend visited, I went to great lengths to have him hosted by a church member. My church members were very gracious in allowing him to come and go to visit me, rather than feeling like he needed to act as their guest (in other words, he was my guest, he was just bunking at their place). When my best male friend visited though, I simply told parishioners he would be staying with me in my guest room, as my female friends always did. So from the beginning, I drew a line between the guy who was my boyfriend and the one who was just my friend. I was never sure if this was the right thing - I found out much later that someone in the town gossiped about my boyfriend sleeping over - but my parishioners seemed to appreciate both my sensitivity and my open communication with them.

Diane writes:
I think that, though it seems like an aggravation, your writer is probably correct that it would not be a good idea to host her single male colleagues at her home. I'm saying this as a woman in her 50s, and a pastor of an older congregation, with many people in the age range that might have a problem with this. I know it seems hiypocritical to worry about what "people might think", and I have absolutely no doubt about the pastor's intentions.
I don't think there is any way you can get around the provlicity of some people who like to talk, whether it is in judgment, or in curiosity about whether their young pastor has a romantic relationship possibility. When I was interviewing at my first parish, the whole congregation came out. One person in the back piped up with the statement that "The pastor in the next town is single."
That being said, perhaps there is some way you can get your congregation involved when your friends visit. Perhaps you can have your friends stay at a parish member's house, but host them (and the host family as well) for a dinner, or a breakfast, even, at your house.
Your parish members are going to be curious about your life. Of course, you need to be careful about keeping your own boundaries, and your own privacy. This is also an opportunity to think about these questions as well.

Sue offers:
I guess it is far too easy for me to say "Forget the gossip and host your friends as you please" - but I'm not in your situation, nor am I part of your denomination, so instead here are a few possible responses to "concerns" should they be voiced by your parishioners:

1. Tell them a bit about your guest. "It's so lovely to have ________ here for a few days. He and his wife and children are some of my best friends. The whole family was unable to visit, but it's nice to see him just the same."

2. Comment on how lovely it is that the manse is large enough to host some of your favourite friends from seminary and talk about how good it is to catch up and remember that important time in your life.

3. At the next meeting of your Board/Council/Stewards, ask for a few moments to explain the situation. Tell them exactly what you have said here, that these are friends and nothing untoward is happening. Thank them for understanding that keeping in touch with seminary friends is important in ministry for many reasons.

My guess is that once the Board hears it, the gossip will die down because the people who peak through the window shades to see what's happening at your house will be soundly told that it is not worth talking about - that you are only inviting friends for a visit. That may sound a bit polly-anna-ish, but in my experience - once the truth is out there, the suspicion and gossip tends to dissipate.

Sunday's Coming writes:

I think if you can have a discussion about this with the church somewhere (church council / elders’ meeting / leaders’ group – depending on your structures) it can only help.
If people are going to feel negative about you having guests it will only be made worse if they somehow feel it has happened behind their backs.
Of course you are in the right & it shouldn’t be a problem – but the fact that you are thinking about the issue shows that it could be a problem for some people.
If you can have an adult, open, sensible discussion about this where you can calmly explain your position to some church folk, it may set minds at ease.

This would mean that if you did have a guest and there was any comment in the church community there would be people around who could say ‘oh yes, she has guests – we discussed it and it’s fine’.

If on the other hand the church cannot give permission, how much worse would it be if the subject has to be tackled after the event, almost as an accusation?

God grant them the good sense to agree with you!

Mompriest adds:

Oh where to begin? On the one hand I really think we clergy must have a private life that is unrelated to the congregation - they do not need to know every detail of our lives. On the other hand we do stand for and are expected to model appropriate, acceptable moral behavior - and that means even the appearance - or not - of such acceptable behavior. So a decision like this depends on a number of factors based on what acceptable behavior means to your flock.
I really think you have to listen carefully and assess your congregation. I would even suggest you speak to the leadership and get a feel from them. If they are willing and able to support you then you might be ok, otherwise I suggest your guests stay in a hotel.


What a tricky situation, eh? It's something that previous generations (male, mostly married) never had to wrestle with. Some of you have probably had to grapple with this one as well. What are your thoughts?

We have many great questions lined up in our queue for the coming weeks. If you have something you want the matriarchs to discuss, please send your question our way at

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wednesday Festival: Monkey Underwear Edition

Newly joining member LuckyFresh shares a multilayered approach to prayer. She's also pondering the difficulty of thanking God.

Sally has sparked an interesting conversation on The Lord's Supper/Communion, drawn out of her reflections on participating in an Anglican Mass at a friend's ordination.

Christine invites one and all to this week's poetry party. Theme is "Always we Begin Again."

Diane says, "I attended the North American Stewardship Conference - Beyond Toronto, June 18 - 20, 2009. The message is urgent and several Denominations attended from across North America which gave it such flavour and texture....and energy.

I wrote a letter to the leaders who made it happen after I wrote a poem about the message that was clearly for the Christian church.I have shared these writings on my blog...spiritual motion."

Jane Ellen + has a very funny post entitled "Big Manly Knives and Swords Sunday." I'll let you discover for yourself! :)

Ruth Everhart has written a novel about a clergywoman, which advanced to the quarterfinals in this year's Amazon competition! Exciting! Now she is looking for readers and commenters. If anyone is interested, please contact her via her blog comments.