Team Player

One of the great advantages for our new start is that we hit the ground running with a team of three.  Our eight-year-old daughter has clearly seen herself as part of this plant from the very beginning.   This is, of course, the child who took a bible to preschool to share with the other children about Jesus (as Jeff and I looked on in mainline protestant discomfort).  This is the girl who, when dealing with a bully in 1st grade, said “No matter how she treats me I can’t be nasty to her.  It says in the bible that I should treat other people like I want them to treat me.”   And now she is busily planning a rally for the United Methodist Church’s global meeting that happens every 4 years so we can set our policies.  The next one will be in Portland in 2016 and she has her slogans ready. Children offer us so much wisdom and light.  She was confident in her evangelism before I was.  She reminds me to live my life by the words I believe in and not just to assent to something mentally.  She has a clear sense that God can transform lives and bring hope to people. My kid is not perfect, and that is not the point.  The point is that our family is a team.  And just because she is the only one without a seminary degree and cannot drive does not mean she is somehow a lesser part of this ministry.  She has no idea that she shouldn’t be part of this. She has no sense...

Money, Mon, Mon, Money

One of the realities of a new church start is talking about money.  We are tasked with raising a set amount each year from within the community we serve and from outside funders.  The regional body of the United Methodist Church (the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference) gave us a generous grant for 3 years to help us get going.  Each year we receive less grant money and rely more on the funds of the people who are part of the new faith community here at Sellwood.  As with any grant if we don’t make our benchmarks the grant money for the next year won’t be coming. Asking people for money for the new start has been a humbling experience.  When I was in grad school I worked in the development office.  There I was calling people who had attend the school and asking them to give to their school.  As a pastor I led an annual stewardship campaign asking the members of the church to give towards the ministry of the church.  I was asking people who had a vested interested to give to an established institution.  Now I’m asking the people I’m in ministry with to give towards something that we are building as we go.  I’m sending letters and talking to people I think might be willing to support the new start and asking them to give to something that will probably never benefit them directly.  In some ways I’m asking people to believe in Jeff and I and to trust our vision of what God is calling us to do.  That is a little scary.   To...

Digging Out

On Monday, after a slushy walk to meet a friend for lunch, I decided to shovel the sidewalk in front of our house.  Over the weekend we had about 8 inches of snow topped with 3/4 of an inch of freezing rain.  By Monday it was a sodden, icy mess.  As I walked home from lunch I really appreciated the homes and businesses who had cleared a path for me, saving my boots an unpleasant soaking.  I wanted to be a good neighbor so, for the first time in my life, I took the show shovel and cleared the way for others.  While I was working a woman from the apartments across the street asked to borrow my shovel.  She needed to get to a meeting, but her car was trapped by the snow bank left in the wake of the rare, but efficient City of Portland snow plows.  I crossed the street to help her and was soon joined by four other people from our street, all working together to get a stranger on her way.  We laughed and worked hard for a few minutes and then went back about our business.  I’m thankful to live in a neighborhood in an urban setting where help is never far away.  And I’m thankful for the snow and for meeting new neighbors as a result of the fluffy, white stuff. Evangelism is one of those words that I have struggled with in my faith life.  Now I’m at a place where I see it as simply living as openly as I can to others as a way of being present...

Dressing the Part

This past Sunday I got to do a  pulpit swap with a good friend of mine.  He preached at Capitol Hill, the 1/2 time traditional church I serve while we lay the ground work for the new community at Sellwood.  I preached at his church, which was a much larger crowd in a more formal setting.  It was fun to change things up a bit, to write a sermon instead of an outline.  And the best part was I got to wear my robe and my stole for the first time since being ordained! Another friend who serves a small church a lot like Capitol Hill was astounded that I don’t wear my robe and stole every week.  For me it doesn’t fit with the laid back, conversational style of worship at Capitol Hill.  I feel like if I wore my robe it would be an off note in the experience of worship. I think a lot about what I’m communicating to people through all the unspoken ways we as humans convey information.  What I wear is part of that.  Can you imagine if I showed up at pick-up after school in my robe and stole?  Or what if I ran my errands at New Seasons Market like that?  I think that a lot of people would notice and that I would be set apart by my clothes.  That is not a bad thing, if that is what I believe God is calling me to do, but my ministry is one of solidarity,  not separation.  My goal is to create safe space in which to connect and to share...