Profession of Faith Class

I’ve got six 14+ year-olds in a “Profession of Faith” group. In June, they will stand in front of the congregation and make a statement about what they believe.

They’re a really exciting group to work with. There is an excitement – not only about their lives, but also about articulating their faith.

On Sunday we explored a really interesting question… “Does something have to have happened historically to be true?”

Part of what was really exciting about the question was that a group of adults in the congregation is exploring Tom Harpur’s The Pagan Christ – and are in the process of asking the same question.

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Your Prayers, Please

The congregation and community that I serve has seen a lot of death this past week and a half.

We’ve faced the tragic death of a man in his early 20s… which people will be taking a long time to get their heads around.

We’ve seen the passing of five of our community’s elders – many of whom were very active in the life of the congregation and community at various times in their life. One of the families was grieving the death of the patriarch, whose life we celebrated last Thursday… and is now grieving the death of the matriarch as well.

On Saturday I will be taking part in a memorial for a young man. He’s been battling cancer for about a year.
Webaptised his little girl three weeks ago.

So I’d ask your prayers for that little girl… and for her mom… and for everyone who is grieving the death of those that they love.

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I’m Curled Up

on my day off.

My cold is slowly but surely getting better. Rowan is asleep (after one hour of going back and forth on the swing and a good hour-long walk). Shannon is out at dance class.

Life goes on.

On Sunday, I was the guest preacher at Chalmers United Church in Woodstock, Ontario. The congregation has been working on a financial stewardship programme called “Celebration Sunday”. It was fun. (That’s the third congregation that I’ve been asked to be the Celebration Sunday speaker at.) While I was chatting with their minister and some of the members of their Church Council, we realized that we might be able to do some work together around vision development.

This makes me very happy. I’m supposed to be doing the Phase II of my Interim Ministry programme. Unfortunatgely, the two congregations that I had hoped to have been working with decided to move quickly to calling a minister… and would prefer to wait to do some of the transitional exploration until their minister arrives. I understand where they’re at. So I’m really glad to have another chance.

I’ve been asked by two groups of young adults (mid-20s) to lead faith exploration groups in their homes. If I do it, then we’re going to have to figure out how to build small-group leadership.

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The Possibility of United Church of Canada’s clergy organizing into a union

is something that has been the talk of the country – and other places for the past week.

I’ve had a number of emails asking me what I think about it. And to be honest… I’m not sure what I’m thinking.

I know and count as respected colleagues – in some cases, respected friends – a number of the people who have been working on this organization drive. Over restaurant tables and in living rooms, I’ve had the chance to listen to the life-stories of members of the clergy who have been hurt, badly, by the actions of members of their congregations… and by what could be counted as inaction of our judicatory.

I know and count as respected colleagues – in some cases, respected friends – a number of people who work on matters of personnel in Presbyteries, Conferences and in the General Council offices of our denominations. People who have worked to develop policies and practices to find resolutions to various conflicts.

I’ve also been in roles of responsibility in our judicatory. While fulfilling those roles, I believe I’ve worked to support my colleagues who are in deeply conflicted situations. Part of my hopes around my d.min. project were to build a place where clergy could be supportive of each other… and that that support would help all of us to develop better coping mechanisms.

I’ve availed myself of the gifts and skills of the “Pastoral Support Minister” in our Presbytery.
I’ve turned to the Conference Excutive Secretary and the Conference Personnel Officer for guidance.
I’ve used the Employee Assistance Programme – in areas of nutrition… and psychological support for stress arising from… difficult… pastoral relationships with a few individuals in my pastoral charge.

And yet, I know that the pain and damage still goes on.
Congregational expectations that are insanely high.
Ministerial self-expectations that are insanely high.
Role dissonance.
More.
The stressors are real.

But I’m still trying to understand how being part of the Canadian Auto Workers – or any union – would be able to help.

I need it explained to me… in very simple and clear terms.

With whom would the union bargain?
What changes would need to be made to our denominational structure? (eg. Ministry Personnel make up between 30% and 50% of delegates to the various decision making bodies… I have a feeling that would have to change.)
What policies need to be changed?
Why can’t we make any necessary changes within the current Presbytery/Conference/GC structure?

How about this scenario…
During the teachers’ strike in 1988 I spent time doing pastoral care on both sides of the picket line – I was seen as neither management nor federation… just someone who was called to care for people. Would I be able to cross a picket line to do that, if I were a member of a union?

Don’t get me wrong. I truly want our denomination to be supportive of its clergy… especially in situations where individuals are being abused. If a union would be able to help us to do that… ok.

But what else would it mean to us?

Any ideas?

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CT Scan

says I have a brain. (yes, yes… it’s true!)

It also says that there is nothing physically wrong with my brain.
(The caveat is there because I’m sure my brother reads my blog every once in a while… and he is sure there’s something wrong with my mind – even if my brain is all right!)

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AAAAAAAAUGH!

So… I’ve got this funeral tomorrow, see? At 11am.
My CT scan was rescheduled for 8:30am… tomorrow.
I had a Council meeting tonight.
That left… hmmm… the last hour for me to put together the service.

So… I get the “minister’s version” done.
I save it.
Then I work on the congregational bulletin.
I save it.

Then I go to email it to myself so that I can go to the printer and print it.

GUESS WHAT I’VE LOST. THE “MINISTER’S VERSION”.

I’m going to bed.

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Suicide and Attempts Often Happen in Batches

which makes me wonder what is going to be happening the rest of this week.

I spent from 1h30 until 5h30, on the phone with someone who was trying to decide if they should end their life.

In the end, they decided not to… this time.

And that’s all I can hope for, right?
Not this time.

I’ve connected them up with a councellor I know and trust.
If the caller is willing, they will be able to get some help.

Why did they call me? I had done a funeral for a friend of theirs, and they wanted me to agree to do their funeral – since I had done such a good job that time.

After everything was all over, I went to bed. *thunk*

In the process of sleeping, I missed a 7h45 appointment with a health specialist.
I didn’t hear my alarum.
The one I turned up to the “insanely loud” position before I went to bed the first time, so that I wouldn’t miss it.

I missed it.

*sigh*

Later, I’ll be rejoicing that the person who called is alive.
Because I am truly relieved and glad that they chose life.

Later, I’ll know that it was all right to miss the appointment.
But… right now… I’m just tired and embarassed.

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But Dean, I’m Christian

but I couldn’t vote for G.W.Bush (even if I wanted to!)

Perhaps you need to change the article title to “Why all U.S. Citizens who happen to be Christians should vote for G.W.Bush”… or (depending on to whom one’s primary allegiance is directed) “Why all Christians who happen to be U.S. Citizens should vote for G.W.Bush.”

Some of us listed on the portal are from places other than the U.S. of A.

I wonder if any of the other moderators will write a parallel piece: “Why all Christians who happen to be U.S. Citizens should vote for Kerry.”

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All Hallow’s Eve

I’m sitting beside my front door, bowl of candy at my side, lap rug covering my toes and a lap top covering my… well… lap, I guess.

I’m listening to James Taylor on the stereo, waiting for the ghoulies, goblins and other creatures of the night to arrive.

Its kind of wierd to be doing this. Normally, Shannon and I share this job and – this year – I thought we’d get Rowan into the fun. Its not quite working out that way. My inclination is to turn off all the lights, head down into the basement and turn on Enterprise. This would, however, tick off a number of small creatures who come out once a year to scarf sugar.

So I guess you’re going to be stuck with me blogging.

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THE Upcoming Election – An Invitation

(I’m sure everyone who read the title knew which election I’m talking about.)

I made a promise to myself a while back that I wouldn’t blog about the upcoming elections in the United States. One reason is that there are a whole bunch of people blogging about the upcoming elections in the United States.

But there’s another reason. It has to do with “family systems theory” and the concept of “triangling”. I’m a Canadian living in Canada. While the choice of President will definitely effect me, I have no power to change it.

I can’t vote in this election… it’s not mine to vote in.
The citizens who have made up their minds will vote the way that they have decided.
The citizens who haven’t made up their minds will (or will not) when it comes to pulling the lever, clicking the button, marking their vote.

There is one thing I can do… you see, when the absentee ballots started getting into the hands of the voters, I started to pray. The prayer was simple – “Hey, God? I pray for everyone making their vote today. May they be guided by your wisdom and love.”

I understand that some of the polls will be opening at November 2nd at 6h00 EST (11h00 GMT, Nov. 2nd) and the last of the polls will be closing at 20h00 HST (6h00 GMT, Nov. 3rd). Anyone interested in joining with me in a prayer/meditation vigil for the people of the United States of America during that time? I’d like to suggest that the prayer be a simple one – one that asks God (or visualizes the Divine presence – whatever your mode may be) to pour down wisdom upon all those casting a ballot.

This is a non-partisan, non-denominational, open-to-many faiths, cultures and countries request.
If you’re interested in taking a chunk of time that day, let me know in the comments (and let me know which times you’ll be taking, including your time zone).
As you let me know, I’ll post the times that have been covered. Let’s see if we can cover the entire 19 hours of that day.

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For Those of You

facing conflict in the congreation / community of faith / house church / (etc. etc. etc.) to which you belong, I’d like to recommend a book:

Never Call Them Jerks by Arthur Paul Boers.

He was one of my D.Min. profs. He’s a clear thinker and explains many of the concepts behind family systems theory very well.

I had picked up his book a few years ago, had read it… and then forgotten it until last week. It’s good stuff.

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Lazarus….

I was going through a stack of things and found a script I had written that I hadn’t posted here.

So I decided to post it! 🙂

As usual, permission is granted for to use and share this script, however, in return I ask that you email me,
to let me know how and when it was used. (Please use the “email me” link in the bar at the left of this page.)

This script was first created for congregations of London Conference of The United Church of Canada. The Conference was looking at the theme, Push Open the Box.
The script was meant to be a voice play for two male voices, for use during a worship service. If you decide to do it some other way, I’d love to know how it went!

Title – Lazarus, Come Out!

One: Lazarus.
Two: (sounding sleepy) mmmm?
One: Lazarus.
Two: (still not awake) Wha…?
One: Lazarus!
Two: (awake and not happy about it) What!
One: Come out.
Two: (questioning) Come out?
One: Come out.
Two: No.
One: (surprised) No?
Two: No.

(pause)

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Baptism…

I’ve taken part in two baptisms this week. Both of them outside of the “norm” for my denomination.
The first was for our daughter, Rowan. In the UCCanada, baptisms normally take place during the worship life of a congregation. The difficulty for Shannon and I arose because we are both ordained ministers… by our polity, we are not members of any congregation. While we serve congregations, we are members of the Presbytery. It is, in its own way, our community of faith.

So, on Tuesday evening, with members of our congregations and the Presbytery present, Rowan was baptised.

It was a wonderful celebration.

Tonight I took part in another baptism – this time as the “officiant”. It was in an area hospital.
The little girl we baptised is fine.
Unfortunately, one of her parents is very, very sick.

So the little girl, her mom and dad, grammas and grampas, cousins, aunts and uncles and some friends, gathered in the chaple at the church. It’s a nice place, but not particularly warm… so I brought a stack of baby quilts, along with all of the baptism accoutrement.

I had officiated at the couple’s marriage a few years ago and feel quite connected to both their sorrow and their joy.

I’m uncomfortable posting their names – but prayers for this young family would be greatly appreciated

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Amazing Grace

A few years ago, I was with a group of people playing with “alternate tunes” to Amazing Grace… things like the theme song from Gilligan’s Isle, or to the tune of Runaround Sue.

I think my favourite was singing Amazing Grace to the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling.

Try it…

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me.
I was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see…
I gotta peaceful, easy feelin’
and I know you won’t let me down…
’cause I’m already standin’ on the ground.

I’m already standin’ on firm ground.

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What A Week

I’m back home. (Hip hip huzzah!)

An interesting ten (or so) days. Last Sunday I drove to Andover, Massachusetts. Why? Well, I was on the first phase of a three phase course called, “Basics of Transitional Ministry”. Phase 2 is a six-month practicum that I need to do. Phase 3 is back at Andover.

The course was all right. Unfortunately, all of the information that was presented was stuff I’ve picked up in other courses. The highlight of the week (for me) was developing connections with ministry personnel from a variety of denominations in Canada and the US – many of whom have been doing Interim Ministry for years, others who are completely new to the concept.

The week there was good. I missed Shannon and Rowan like crazy. The drive was insane – 10 to 10.5 hours. *bleh* I’m going to start looking at the cost of airfair for Phase 3. I don’t want to drive again. (It’s strange. I didn’t mind the trips to Ashland, when I was working on my doctoral courses… but I just couldn’t get the excitment up about doing this trip.)

Shannon’s mother and my parents are here. Tomorrow night, during the worship service at the monthly meeting of Huron-Perth Presbytery, Rowan is going to be baptized. Excitement abounds! On Friday, Shannon and Rowan head to Vancouver to spend time with Shannon’s mom and extended family. (So I’m bachin’ it for a week.)

Sunday coming has a couple of interesting things taking place. I’m going to be heading to Exeter United Church to be the guest preacher for their Anniversary service. The Junior Youth Group (ages 10 to 13) are taking responsibility for worship leadership at St. Marys United Church. They’ve had a great time putting the service together. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with for the meditation/sermon time!

Things are going well!

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I’m Excited

really, really, really excited.

I wandered in to the Canadian Bible Society’s store in London, this afternoon.

While I was there, a friend said, “Congratulations.”
I responded, “Thank you… ummm.. for what?”
She said, “Bibby’s new book.”
“Oh? He has a new book out? Great!” (I figured that she knew that I’ve found some of his work convincing.)
“Umm… yes… you really don’t know?”
“Know what?”
“You’re quoted… a full page of quoted.”

I was in shock. (ok… not clinically… it just felt that way)

I bought the book.

Sure enough… but not just one page… two! I guess he really liked the article I wrote for Exchange magazine.… beacause he used it as an example of a congregation that “made a systematic attempt to implement some of these ideas.” (Restless Churches, p158).

Wow.

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