Sunday and More

The past week has been a blast.

Not only did I get the chance to go to a great confrerence, The Worship Place is up and running (and doing well, too)! In one week, we’ve had 146 people join the on-line community, and discussion is starting.

Actually, that’s part of what I’m posting about. One of the folders at The Worship Place focusses on the Lectionary readings for the upcoming Sundays. We’ve got a great moderator for that folder – you wouldn’t believe how many different directions she’s been able to offer as discussion starters. In the course of the discussion, I posted some of my thoughts around “The Great Comandment”, its bigness (using a quote from The Hitchiker’s Guide), and some thoughts around Christian mindfulness.

I can’t believe how much better Sunday morning’s meditation was, simply for having laid out where I was thinking of going, that early in the week.

I don’t need to prep a meditatino for this coming Sunday – its our congregation’s anniversary and we have a guest speaker. (Which is great, because I head to a small community north of Montreal on Wednesday – for the next session of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada and The United Church of Canada Dialogue.)

I think we’re going to be continuing to discuss marriage (and same-sex marriage), so that we’re able to get a clearer understanding of the “whys” that support each denomination’s position.

One of the nice things about this trip is that I get to take the train (a mode of transportation that I absolutely love!) From St. Marys to Dorval, Quebec on Wednesday, returning Friday evening.

My only frustration – I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a hotspot so that I can log on. Wish me luck!

Continue Reading

Interesting. The Name Fits, but the Description Doesn’t

You are a Self-Discoverer

You’re not religious, but you’ve created your own kind of spirituality.
Introspective and thoughtful, you tend to look inward for the divine.
You are distrusting of all forms of organized religion.
You especially dislike religious gurus and leaders, who you feel are charlatans.
Continue Reading

Light Posting


a) The Worship Place just opened… and suddenly we’ve got 130 worship leaders from across the UCCan signed up. (And I do mean “suddenly”! Doors opened last Saturday at midnight. Woohoo!)


b) I attended my alma mater‘s Annual Conference this week.

Please read this next line as if it were in 80 point, blinking text, with stars and fireworks floating around, an mp3 of a brass fanfare playing in the background – which I won’t do, because I find that stuff really annoying. 🙂


I’ll be writing more over the next couple of days.

Continue Reading

Congregational Complaints

Please note – this is not about St. Marys United. Things are just fine, thanks.

I’ve been asked by a colleague how to deal with complaints brought by unknown third-party sources.

Let’s say… Person X is unhappy with the hymns for the past few weeks. Rather than talk with the Minister or the music leadership, they talk with Person Y. Person Y wants to be supportive of Person X, though they don’t really agree with the assessment… so Person Y goes to talk with the Minister. Of course, they don’t feel that they should name the person with the concern – just relate the concern.

The question, “Richard, what do you do in this situation?”

My answer –
I ask Person Y if they can let me know who it is that has the concern.
(a)If they say “Yes” – I thank them and contact the person who has the concern…
(i) and ask them to help me understand what’s wrong.

(b) If they say “No” – I ask them if they have the same concern.

(i) If they say “Yes” to having the same concern – I ask them to help me understand what’s wrong.
(ii) If they say “No” to having the same concern – I ask them if they will ask Person Y to come and talk with me.

(1) If they say “Yes” to asking Person Y to see me – I thank them, and wait for Person Y to call.
(2) If they say “No” to asking Person Y to see me – I thank them for their concern, but explain that there is little that I can do, because it is extremely difficult (just this side of impossible) to respond to a concern without having the chance to explore it with the person who is bothered by the situation.

An example – “Joe”, a regular participant in worship, prefers older hymns. For the past few Sundays, he’s been really unhappy with the hymns… so he talks with “Karen”, who lets the minister know that someone wants olde hymns.

But older means different things to different people… it could mean hymns written in the 19th century… or ones from the hymn book put out in 1925… or 1971… or 1984. “Older” has no meaning without a context. A minister can cast around, trying to figure out what “older” means – and never be able respond to Joe’s concern.

I realize that what I’ve written here sounds cold – please note that it is done with a great deal of compassion and openness to hearing the upset… and trying to find a workable solution.

Continue Reading

My Posting Has Been Kind of Sparse


I’ve really been focused on The Worship Place (a new online community for worship leaders in the UCCan)… we’re hoping to do our “roll-out” next Friday… so I’m spending a lot of time makeing sure that everything is dusted off.

Continue Reading

oh, well

Blogs4God was my almost initial introduction to the god-blogosphere. (I say “almost” because it was actually Martin Roth’s list (the precursor to b4G) that was my introduction… just a month or two before b4G came on-line.)

It used to be my portal to the wider Christian blogosphere. The front page tended to be a bit more theologically and socially conservative than I am… but, hey… that wasn’t a major problem for me.

Sadly, with the upgrade to the new and improved b4G, I’m afraid that I’m no longer listed.

Part of that has simply to do with the upgrade. The cache was flushed and people were invited to re-register. I’m cool with that. Having moved my blog a couple of times, I know that transferring a database isn’t always the easiest of tasks.

But before I re-registered, I decided to read the user agreement... something I’ve been doing ever since I realized what MicroSquish (et al) were sliding in to the small print.

The user agreement is very, very, very clear. (Thank you, Dean and other mods!)

I’ve never had a problem with #1 on the list. I may ask questions, I may challenge, but I don’t see the need for hostility.

No one has ever challenged me about being a problem with #2 on the list.

It’s #3 that… well… is a stumbling block for me – as you probably know if you’ve read much of my blog.

So, its time to say goodbye. Kind of sad… almost like leaving a community I’ve been the “weird second cousin” with. Oh, well…

I hope and pray that b4G continues to have a great ministry – and know that God’s love and guidance will continue to be with the mods and participants.

Continue Reading

World-Wide Communion Sunday: The Wrap

So… the children started off in Sunday School, where they had a chance to do some talking about what they understood communion to be. Yesterday, the co-ordinator shared with me stories about the level of excitement that the children had that they were going to be part of “big church” later.

During the hymn before communion their was this (very quiet) stream of children flowing into the sanctuary. The funniest part – how they were trying so hard to be as quiet as possible – some of them were even tiptoeing.

The liturgy I put together, to help the entire congregation do some learning about communion, was a huge success. The child and teaching elder were seated slightly to my left. Both of them had read over their comments and had made them their own. It truly sounded like they were having a conversation with one another – not forced at all.

And the congregation was caught up in both the conversation and the story. It was completely quiet – the only sound was the rustle of movement when people focused their attention on the conversation or on the liturgical action.

Afterwards, a number of adults came to talk with me about how much they enjoyed the whole family being together for communion. A few talked about how the explanation “for the children” had helped them to feel like they understood more what they were doing.

Now I have to start thinking about communion for the first Sunday of Advent… its going to be by intinction – everybody coming forward… and the children will be part of that celebration, as well!

Continue Reading

Henri Nowen Pre-Call

I received this pre-call for an upcoming conference.
Please consider attending.
And, if you’ve papers or keynote ideas, please contact me – I’ll sent you the conference’s email addy.

The wagon wheel shows that the hub is the centre of all energy and movement, even when it often seems not to be moving at all. In God, all action and all rest are one.
Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (1994)

The year 2006 is the tenth anniversary of Henri Nouwen’s death. To mark this anniversary, the Nouwen Archives at the University of St. Michael’s College is hosting a three day gathering from May 18-20, 2006 that will bring together scholars, students, ministers, and spiritual seekers to explore themes and ideas that preoccupied Nouwen in his lifetime and which have particular relevance in today’s context. The event will take place in two major parts: 1) an optional one-day gathering at L’Arche Daybreak on Thursday; and 2) a two-day symposium on Friday and Saturday.

Keynotes by:
Carol Berry, Long Trail School, Vermont
Michael Higgins, St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo
Mary Jo Leddy, Regis College, Toronto
Sue Mosteller, Henri Nouwen Literary Executrix
Laurent Nouwen, Henri Nouwen Stichting, Rotterdam

This event is co-sponsored by the College Programmes of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, Regis College, L’Arche Daybreak and the Henri Nouwen Societies of Canada, the United States and the Netherlands.


Nouwen used his academic learning and role as university professor to speak to the heart. In a similar vein, the two-day symposium on 19-20 May 2006 will aim to balance the world of scholarship with explorations of the Christian spiritual life in the academic world and beyond.

We are seeking proposals for individual presentations, full sessions, and workshops that will address the relevance of Henri Nouwen’s vision of the spiritual life from a variety of perspectives. For more information see:

– Individual presentations of approximately 20-30 minutes length will treat one or more topics related to the conference theme.
– Full sessions will usually consist of a pre-arranged group of 2-3 presentations on a single theme, followed by a response—no more than one and a half hours altogether, including time for discussion.
– The inclusion of workshops in the symposium programme is intended to broaden the scope of our conversation beyond what would ordinarily be included in an academic conference. Workshops could take a variety of shapes and forms and vary in length from half an hour to an hour and a half.

Proposals for individual presentations, full sessions or workshops should be approximately one page in length, including: 1) title; 2) short description of the proposed paper, session, or workshop, including its estimated length (approx. 250 words), and; 3) full contact information—mailing address, email address and daytime telephone number. These should be sent to:

Gabrielle Earnshaw
Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection
John M. Kelly Library
University of St. Michael’s College
113 St. Joseph Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1J4

Email attachments in .doc or .rtf format are the preferred mode of submission.
The deadline for proposals is November 1, 2005; proposals received after this date will not be accepted. The committee will reply to all those who propose papers no later than the end of January 2006. Proceedings of the conference will be published by Orbis Books.

Possible topics include:
o Psychology and faith
o Intimacy and solitude
o Nature of conflict, ways of peace
o Education and spirituality
o Aspects of Henri Nouwen’s thought
o Writing the Henri Nouwen biography
o Spirituality and artistic expression
o Forgiveness
o Power of the vulnerable
o Personal and political responses to suffering
o Spiritual direction, retreat work and/or pastoral counselling
o Introduction to the life and work of an intentional community or movement, such as L’Arche, Intercordia, the Hospice movement, etc.
o Ministering to those on the margins
o Integrating spiritual practice into everyday life

Continue Reading