I’ll be taking part in a Lenten Photo-A-Day Challenge from RETHINK Church. I’ll try to post them here as well as on other social media platforms. Hoping this will get me back engaged with the blog while I do the photo challenge.
I chose this photo to start the challenge and show the world a glimpse of who I am. It’s eclectic, varied, and full of different things, which I think describes my life, my work, and my calling.
I seem to always forget how great the fall season is. It fades from my memory once the cold of winter sets in, and then it’s waiting for summer to take a vacation or two. When it’s here, I just want it to last twice as long as it does. I find fall to be a great time to reflect, observe, and doing a little relaxing outdoors with a cozy fire and fleece jacket.
I haven’t blogged since I was in Tampa for General Conference. I don’t have much to talk about that experience this many months later. It was challenging, emotional, life taking, and down right awful. Other times it was uplifting, inspiring, life giving, and beautiful. Since then I seem to have been on a more reflective journey than even before in my life.
This fall marks the time when I complete my paperwork requirements and prepare for January’s ordination interviews. I’m excited, nervous, and down right terrified at times. I’ve long struggled with the best place to serve in ministry, and at times wasn’t sure the local church was that place. I’m happy to say at this time as I prepare for ordination I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Working with people on a personal basis, being allowed into their lives, allows for amazing experiences with them and God.
Big changes are happen in my life. Some I will share here today, others as time goes on. First is a bit of shock that it has been so successful. At the end of August I decided it was time to change the way I lived my life. My health has always been on the edge, I was tired a lot, and could see the path I was going down. This may be a surprise to some of you, but the life of a pastor is no the least stressful job in the world. As I look at 40+ years until retirement, I knew this wasn’t sustainable and would likely fall to burnout rather quickly. Doing something tomorrow finally became today. The first week of September I began a weight loss management program through a local hospital and haven’t looked back. It has been more than just weight loss, though that is a ton of it, I have got my diabetes in check and no longer take medication and feel like a healthier program. The first phase is a 13 week program, and I’m about halfway through it. As of today I’m just shy of 40 pounds lost and feel like a new person. I sleep well, have energy, enjoy eating healthy food, and have a much more positive look on life.
I am grateful the church has been supportive in this process since it does take some time and flexibility in my schedule. As I sit by the fire typing this, I feel like this progress has been good for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. A burden has been slowly leaving me as I improve the physical, and it has allowed me to focus on other things. I think that this change has been calling me for some time and I wasn’t listening and was just unwilling. Over the next year, I hope the “hear” more of what is calling me and worry less about where I’m being “called.”
I’ve taken a lot of stabs at blogging regularly, but really want to get back in the habit as I have found it to be a great outlet for my mind. It will inevitably vary from the serious to the ridiculous and everything in between. I have a list of churchy topics in my office I want to write about and will keep adding to it. Until then, Go with God!
Grace and Peace,
Yesterday brought out many emotions from many people. We heard stories of the previous days Holy Conferencing, and the unfortunate side effects of a process that should be a comforting experience. Stories were shared of hurt and wounds by those who felt that being authentic was important. Delegates who identify as LGBTQ shared of feeling bullied, harrassed, and demeaned. It was a tense moment on the floor, lead by the very gracious Mark Miller. His courage to bring this to the General Conference’s attention was amazing. It only further showed the divisions we have, and the need for self-examination of who we are as God’s church.
In the midst of the tension, our evening worship began. The Holy Spirit was present in the convention center. Tears were shed and some anxiety lessened. However, the deep desire for change by so many in the church continues on, encouraged to press on as wounds and scars are shown. Bishop Hoshibata shared a message that even caught me off guard. He displayed a level of leadership that was desperately needed, and explicitly called on us to live out our faith by welcoming all people, and not caring who people love. Jesus calls us to be God’s healing oil to others. This night reminded me of why General Conference is the best and the worst of the church.
Grace and Peace,
It’s short nights, and long days for awhile here in Tampa. This morning starts with work in legislative groups after a slow start to things. I’ll be observing the committee called, Local Church. Most of the items being considered have to do with pastor’s authority in receiving and denying membership, membership appeals process, and issues around the property trust clause. While they may seem mundane and simple, much is involved in each of these areas. I will discuss these more as the commitee works.
Last night brought reports about the big ticket item, the Call to Action proposals. Rev. Adam Hamilton brough the bulk of the report. I can appreaciate the intent behind the changes, and the attempt by the Council of Bishops to push change, but found the report to be a bit maddening at times. I’ll admit, anytime structural change is proposed with hopes and promises of fixing a non-structural issues, I am skeptical. I do not see how these changes promote the transformation of individuals that will grow the church. For example, this change will not automatically bring young people to the church.
As a member of the younger generation in the church, I find the biggest problem to authenticity in the church. Younger people are looking for a church that LIVES its beliefs, not just mentions them. A church that is fully welcoming of all people, and I mean ALL people, is a necessity if we hope to ever be relevant to the world around us. Recognizing the call of each person who feels called by God must be done in order for the church to be the true body of Christ. The Call to Action gets the conversation started, but I would hope that the delegates spend time working with it and perfecting it, in order that it reflect the collective wisdom of those gathered.
Justice and Peace for ALL, that is my prayer!
Grace and Peace,
Survived the first day, or should I say hours, of General Conference. Last night was the first plenary session for delegates. Normally this is a pretty mundane and routine night of votes on rules and procedures for the conference. However, as most have predicted, this General Conference is anyting put routine. Many new rule changes were proposed to help foster communication and hopefully save some time in the deliberations. These changes were not welcomed with open arms as many hoped, and we have not passed the rules of order for the conference. They will pickup again this morning in order to convene the legislative committees later today. My guess is that the General Conference will be about a half day behind when this is all said and done. On the personal side, it is differnt observing General Conference from the “outside” as a volunteer. Adapting to all the changes of not being in all the meetings, and getting a vote on issues hit me yesterday during the rules votes. However, it’s also been nice to be able to observe the body as a whole and see how it works together. The schedule is nicer on this side, being able to take a quick break without fear of missing an important vote. Should be more to talk about as the days go on, as I’m sure we will get into some “deep conversations.” Grace and Peace, Z