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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.
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?

Continue Reading


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.


I’m going to bed.

Continue Reading

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.


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.

Continue Reading