Environment Matters

Environment Matters

A couple of weeks ago I got to participate in Transforming Ministries 5.  This conference brings together around 50 clergy to listen to amazing stories from secular businesses as a catalyst for us to create new ministries for our communities.  This year we got to hear from the historian for McMenamins.  If you are not from the Northwest you might not know that this is a beer company that takes over old, historic buildings and gives them new life as breweries, bars, restaurants, hotels, and concert venues.  Their motto from their website states, “McMenamins has been a neighborhood gathering spot throughout Oregon and Washington since 1983. We handcraft our own beer, wine, cider, spirits and coffee. We offer an eclectic mix of pubs, historic hotels, movie theaters, concert venues, spas, events and just pure fun—join in!”  Take a look at all they have to offer here. It was fascinating to hear the historian talk about the Kennedy School, the hotel that had once been a neighborhood school.  The care taken with the art, the color scheme, and the maintenance of connection to the history of the community made the space a vibrant place to spend time.  The company understands that the environment matters.  People are more likely to relax, hang out, and tell stories in a apace that feels comfortable and interesting.  McMennamins is know for their artworks much of it murals that have a particular aesthetic that celebrate the location or stories connected to a place.  Their goal of being a neighborhood gathering spot means they create space where people want to come and connect.  They do this through the aesthetics and feel of the places they create. As I think about how this translates to...
Hear Us When We Cannot Cry

Hear Us When We Cannot Cry

This morning my devotional was Psalm 28 and Genesis 39:1-23.   As I read Psalm 28 I thought about how the words of this Psalm could be used by those who are filled with hate and white nationalist pride, “The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.  O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them for ever.”  Those who talk about white heritage and see themselves as special in the eyes of God because of their skin tone could use these words to justify their views.  These same words could also be taken up by those who denounce hate, who call upon God’s long history of bringing justice for the poor and marginalized as the true heritage of God.  This is one of the problems of the bible, we can read it and have it confirm our views, rather than wrestling with the text. For me the wrestling with Psalm 28 comes in the stanza above the one I cited earlier.  This stanza is all about how God will punish the wicked and give them their due reward.  They will be broken down and repaid for their evil actions.  I am much more comfortable with the image of a gracious and forgiving God, so this sentiment from the psalm makes me uncomfortable.  Then I think about the men being called out by their employers, families, and universities for terrorizing Charlottesville this week and I begin to see the justice in the consequences.  Yet it still makes me uncomfortable.  What if the wrong person gets identified?  Is harassing people on the...
Press Clippings

Press Clippings

The local newspaper wrote an article about the Southeast Portland Parish. Check it out here: http://pamplinmedia.com/sb/74-news/367700-249074-changes-spark-innovation-at-sellwood-and-woodstock-churches...
Trying New Things

Trying New Things

On Sunday we had brunch at Trinity.  This was a big deal because it was the first time the congregation had done anything like this.  We set up tables in the back of the sanctuary and rigged up a sound system for Jeff’s guitar.  We sang together, prayed together, ate together, and discussed the scripture together.  It was awesome. I wasn’t sure how the folks would feel about it.  Most people’s reaction to the idea of eating during worship is one of scandal.  It seems so foreign to how we behave during our worship time.  In fact I once served a church where the ushers would actually kick anyone with food, drinks, or even gum out of the sanctuary during worship.  So it is totally understandable that people who have been in those sorts of church cultures would balk at the idea that worship for this Sunday actually features and promotes eating in the sanctuary. No matter how much reproach or uncertainty that meets the idea what I have found is that when we get to the actual experience it is magical. Every church I have served in the past 12 years has shared a meal during worship and the holiness of those experiences were transformational for the communities. This Sunday at Trinity was no different.  I was at a table with two young families and it was the 3rd grader who brought the most spiritually deep insight on the scripture to us.  It was amazing to see deeper connections forming between the folks at all the tables.  At the end of the worship time during the announcements one...