Can I get your contact info?

Part of the task of being able to reconnect with folks is, first of all, being able to contact them at all?

This is the “Communications sheet” we have on clipboards, on every pew. Folks are invited to fill it out, and a letter of welcome is sent to them within two days of the service. The letter is tailored to them, andincludes any information that they may have requested.


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How do we keep connected with guests and newcomers?

Yesterday, DHUC started with the second step on our “develop deeper connections with guests and newcomers” plan. (Step 1: Comfortably making conversation, they’ve been doing well for some time.)

We’re using a communication sheet, slightly adaped from one used in previous churches. Our guests gave us contact information, let us know how they came to arrive at the church, and things they’d like to know more about or take part in.

Of the five guests/newcomers yesterday, four filled in communications sheets. Tomorrow’s first task will be getting notes out to them, with the information they requested, and asking their permission to put the people who are facilitating their interests in contact with them.

To those of you in the business world, this is basic “customer support and retention.” To many in the church world (well, The United Church world) there is a huge fear of being too intrusive.

It should be interesting to see what happens.

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10/365 – Claque

For today’s image, I wanted to wander around town giving people a loonie or a toonie to be able to photograph them clapping for me.

Yes, that’s the definition of a claque – a group of people paid to clap.

Unfortunately, I had neither the time nor the supply of toonies to be able to make this image a reality. So you’re stuck reading the thoughts that arise because of the word.

How many times do we just want people to agree with us? I know that I’m guilty of that. I’ll ask someone their opinion, not really looking for more than a pat on the back for a job well done. Whether or not it’s well done, not well done, or not done at all, has been somewhat irrelevant.

Doesn’t really treat people fairly, does it? If we ask them their thoughts, then what we’re really saying is, “Your opinion has value to me. I may agree with it, or I may not – but I will listen and think about it.”

Perhaps that needs to be one of my daily resolutions: only ask when I’m prepared to hear someone’s thoughts on the matter.

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9/365 – Virtuoso

There is artistry in so many part of our world, much of which gets lost in the details and habits of every day life.

Today, I sat in an airport, waiting for a delayed flight. When the plane arrived, everyone was ready – fueling team, cargo team, attendants, flight deck crew, people directing on the ground and in the control tower, restocking, rescheduling, reworking, to get us on board and in the air.

Once we boarded, we found ourselves waiting. And waiting. And… waiting.

The captain came on the intercom to explain that, in the rush, some of the usual care with balancing the luggage, to ensure the weight was properly distributed had gotten kind of confused. As I looked out my window, I watched a worker came down to the plane. He looked like he had been handling cargo for years. I saw him give three signals, felt something being moved under us, then saw him nod.

Four minutes later, we were backing away from the gate.

There is an artistry to almost everything.

To see a virtuoso at work in their field of art is a joy.

And sometimes makes smooth a frustrating wait.

(Link to image.)

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8/365 -Ombuds(man)

How often do we find ourselves sitting between factions (of one or more) bent on doing damage to one another?

As a mediator, and sometimes arbitrator, one of my biggest tasks is to tease out information. Helping people to find words that will get across their point. Unruffling ruffled feathers. Sometimes throwing in a comment or two to jump-start conversations.

One of the things I find interesting is that nuance often gets lost. Sometimes things are in such opposition that their contrast overwhelms. But, other times, it’s not quite that extreme.

I wonder what the next arm-wrestle will bring?

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The Long Way

As I travel down paths once gold,
now silvered, blighted with tarnish,
I find myself precariously perched on Mnemosyne’s back.
Running my fingers through her mane,
I listen to each clip-clop,
by the icy snows
of time.

Looking in the windows,
the shapes,
the light,
a graceful arm dances,
laughter sings.

Again and again, Mnemosyne stops and starts,
place to place,
moment to moment,
and I am carried
where her will goes.

Starry night burns my eyes.
Crisp air my lungs.

When now?

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7/365 – Fallible

I don’t like making mistakes, even though I know that fallibility is a mark of being human, and human I am.

The difficulty with mistakes is that I feel like I need to learn something from all of them. It is far too easy to let self-critique become self-criticism. (Or critique of another’s actions become criticism.)

Perhaps, rather than critique, I need to look for the beauty in the mistake.
Perhaps I need to affirm the flow, rather than get caught in the folly.
Perhaps I need to let it go…

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6/365 – Bromide

As you can see from the above photo, it was cold today. As I write this, the digits have flipped. It is no longer -23C, it’s -32C.

So, cold.

But, I’ll tell you, if one more person had said to me, “Cold enough for ya’,” I think I would have internally combusted.

Yes. Yes, it is.


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5/365 – Peremptory

I’m a Christian minister. A big part of my life’s work is to explore the library my tradition called “the Bible,” and to help others explore it as well.

Exploring scripture, diving deep into it, takes a lot of work. There’s the intellectual discussion: what is the historic context of the passage, what is it’s literary context, what bias did the author(s) have, what translations issues are there, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Then there are the personal bits. Questions like “what experiences in my life are influencing my understanding of this scripture,” or, “as a white middle-class cis-male Canadian, how might my lenses be changing what I’m reading?”

Then there’s the whole prayer part of it. “Hey, God? What do you want me to hear in this, today?”

For me, it’s never an easy task – though, even when it’s a slog (see any genealogy passage), I do tend to enjoy it.

I’ve experienced situations where someone has said to me, “the Bible says it, I believe it.” This strikes me as naive. Facile. Kind of simple.

It’s also a great peremptory statement. Conversation gets pretty much shut down.

Kinda frustrating.

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3/365 – Emigrate

I am in awe of people who pick up their lives from their countries of origin and move to another country – especially when they move to a new community in which the language, culture, expectations, laws, everything, is different.

In awe.

There are people who are forced to leave their homes and their are people who choose to do so; and, I am sure, there are as many reasons as there are people who emigrate.

My hope and prayer for them? Whether or not they find what they expected, I hope they find better than what they left.

To life!

(The above image is mixed media: The photograph of the waves on Lake Superior was taken by me on January 1, 2015, the text was cut from a map and includes Uruguay, the coast of Brazil, the north-eastern coast of South America, part of Mexico, and the lower mainland of British Columbia.)

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