Friday, February 23, 2007

Do I have to turn in my Rebel credentials?

I've been invited to join the local chapter of a Respectable International organization. I was invited to several of their meetings, then two members of the church who are also part of this group took me to lunch to give me the full court press on joining. It appears that every Pastor but one from our congregation has been a member.

I'm inclined to say yes. Not because of the sales pitch, but because I know this organization somewhat. Fifteen years ago, another chapter sent me on a young professional adult exchange to Europe for a whole month. I know they do good stuff in local communities and internationally. I also figure I'll meet people from our town that I would never meet at church or on the soccer field sidelines, the two places I seem to be spending 90% of my time lately.

Still. It feels very middle class. Like I'll need to forge a secret identity as a nude punk-rocker or something just to counter-balance the stodginess factor.

How about you all? Any of you done the Kiwanas, Rotarian, Lions Club, Optimists thing? How has it been for you? A good thing ministry-wise? Personally?

Friday, February 16, 2007

We've Got our Theme . . .

An article on the history of VBS states:

Vacation Bible School was the idea of Mrs. Waler Aylett Hawes, a doctor's wife. Her goal was to get children off the streets of New York. In 1898 and 1899 Mrs. Hawes rented a beer hall in New York's East Side to conduct her Everyday Bible School. In 1900 Mrs. Hawes' pastor, Howard Lee Jones, insisted that the Bible school move to the church building, Epiphany Baptist Church. After two weeks it became clear that children from the East Side would not attend at the church, so Mrs. Hawes moved the school back to a site near the beer hall.

I've GOT IT!!!!!!!!! Our 2007 VBS theme will be ....... VBS On Tap!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It'll be time before you know it

We're talking about VBS around our place. This is the time of year to select curriculum, set the dates, etc. Last year's VBS was relatively successful. I say relatively because there were more kids involved than in the year or two that preceeded it, (around 30 kids), but far fewer than what folks remember from the golden days when we maxed out the available classroom space and had to set up marquee-style tents on the lawn to accomodate everyone.

I'm encouraging our CE folks to think outside the box on this. To my mind, the five weekday morning VBS model, more than any other church program, reveals our refusal to acknowledge that it it 2007. I'm a working Mom. I have to scramble to figure out what my kids are going to do for the rest of the working day after VBS ends at noon. We're going to do VBS because it would look bad if the Pastor's kids weren't there. But if I were in some other line of work, I might just decide the hassle wasn't worth it for my kids to learn Bible songs and make popsicle stick crafts.

As I see it, the original motivations for creating VBS were three-fold: To reach out to kids who were not part of the congregation's regular Sunday-school program, to take advantage of summer's more relaxed atmosphere to allow church kids to engage the Bible in ways more creative and sustained than their Sunday a.m. classes, and to provide a safe, affordable way to keep kids off the streets during summer break. Now the main motivation seems to be, "We have to VBS because that is what churches DO in the summer, and if you can't manage to field a good VBS, you'll lose market share to a congregation that can."

How do we get back to those original goals in ways that make sense in a community with majoriy two-career families, a Bazillion day-camp offerings, and a lot of indifferece to church involvement?

Have any of you done wonderful, creative things in this area? Is there such a thing as Emergent VBS? Please share.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I've been reading with interest about the New Wineskins Convocation in Florida and the decision by some of those congregations to become part of new, provisional Presbytery being established by the Evangelical PResbyterian Church. One much discussed topic is whether or not the EPC will be supportive of ordained women--elders and pastors--who wish to become part of this movement. Apparently the EPC is not in agreement about the ordination of women, so each presbytery determines whether that will happen within its bounds.

Does anyone but me find just the tiniest bit ironic that many of the churches that are leaving the PCUSA for the EPC are doing so, in part, because of a suggested "local option" compromise on an ordination issue about which faithful members of the PCUSA disagree, (the ordination of practicing homosexuals) yet they are going into a denomination which operates with just such a local option on an ordination matter about which members of that denomination don't agree, (ordination of women)??

Monday, February 12, 2007

Would you like salt with that?

Today the kids are out of school. We went to Costco and they somehow persuaded me that the Mondo Variety Pack of chip snack bags was a good investment. They each had a bag and then I put the rest up on a high shelf.

Later, while I was occupied with something else, they decided they needed another hit. My first clue was the sound of glass shattering. In their attempt to reach above their heads to get to the pack of chip bags, they managed to dislodge a three quarters full bottle of Tequila which crashed to the floor, splattering glass shards and Tequila all over the kitchen floor, counters and wall. After twenty minutes of cleaning, the whole house still smells like a Mexican bar. Want to make bets on how many church members will drop by in the next 24 hours??

Friday, February 09, 2007

Re: How far we've come

In light of our recent discussions, you might be interested in checking out the podcast of an interview with Margaret Towner, first woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church, available on the Covenant Network website.

The Perfect Storm

All day session retreat---Saturday
Performing Arts Concert hosted by the Church in our sanctuary---Saturday night
Annual Meeting---Sunday morning
Ordination of former member---Sunday afternoon
Kids out of school---all day Monday
Brief but far from finished manuscript deadline--Tuesday

Me: sick with the cold from hell.

May Day!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Anyone seen the stats on this?

There has been quite a bit of discussion sparked by Besomami's musings about the progress--or lack thereof--in clergywomen becoming Senior Pastors of bigger churches.

Here's a statistic I'd like to see researched: Regardless of gender, is there a correlation between age at ordination and likelihood of becoming a Head of Staff type pastor. My completely unscientific mental review of pastors I know or know of supports the theory that most Heads of Staff were ordained in their twenties or early thirties.

Anyone seen any research on this?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Yes, there are three big retirement communities in our town . . .

You know you have a lot of senior citizens in your congregation when:

In the middle of worship, a sudden loud squealing sound erupts (later to be diagnosed as an Organ pipe malfunction) and 1/3 of the people present immediately stick their finger in their ear to see if it is their hearing aid that is causing the offending noise.

You could almost hear them saying, "Is it I, Lord?"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Last requests

Mostly it is a blessing when someone has taken the time to write out what s/he would want for their memorial service ahead of time. It lets you know their favorite hymns, their most cherished scripture, their thoughts on burial vs. cremation and where to direct memorial gifts.

Sometimes, however, these plans include impossible or at least compliated requests. For example:

The former pastor of the church should officiate at the ceremony
A solo should be sung by a former memeber who left the congregtion in a huff 2 years ago
A particular song should be sung by the whole choir, (the whole choir is not normally present for funerals.)
A very difficult song that the designated soloist does not know and does not have time to learn before the ceremony is requested


Since these requests are in writing from someone dear to them who has just passed, family members can be extremely sensitive about any hint that the request(s) may not be possible or advisable. The requests seem to thm almost to have the weight of law--especially when they are in the same envelope as the will.

Have any of you all run into this? Any creative advice?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Rebel Announces a Recipe Contest

The other night I had dinner with a member of my congregation while my family ate at home without me. When I arrived home, we compared notes. They reported that they had sent out for Chinese takeout. They asked what I'd had to eat.

Well, I said, I had the pot roast and D. had the chicken pot pie.

At this, my seven year old daughter started to giggle uncontrolably.

What? I said. What's funny?

I didn't know there was such a thing as chicken butt pie! she squealed.

Then we all started laughing. Finally we recovered and explained that she had misheard me.

But then I got to thinking: Really, there should be such a thing as Chicken Butt Pie. The world would be a richer, fuller place. So I invite you all to suggest recipes in the comments. Final awards will be made after the cook-off we will certainly schedule at the long hoped for RGBP conference.

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Finally, someone speaks the truth

Next Sunday our church will host the ordination service a man who was a member here when, at mid life, he began discerning a call to the ministry. He has been serving a small church as a solo, student pastor for the last two years so he has more of an idea than many new ordinands what he is letting himself in for.

Yesterday we all received our official invitations in the mail--which included this marvelous typo:

You are cordially invited to the Service of Ordination of John Doe to the ministry of WORK and Sacrament.

At last--the truth comes out.