Could Diverse and Especially Female Clergy Be What Is Killing the UMC?

A third reason the UMC is dying may be because of a thorny issue we don’t want to acknowledge: the decision to be more inclusive with ordination and especially bring female clergy to positions of highest leadership.  After a one-year stint as a professional Mystery Worshiper, I would say that the LDS (Mormon) web presence is [Read More…]

Help! Do abusive people keep power by defining forgiveness?

When abusive people, those who misuse the power entrusted to them, face accusations of misconduct, they deflect the blame toward the one who has been abused. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Why is it always the abusers and their advocates that concoct numerous ways to forgive them? Here is my experience. Abusers are usually sincere. They don’t [Read More…]

It’s time. Blow up the UMC. My own breaking point.

These responses may be the breaking point for me. A church based on a theology of grace operates with the same nastiness of our current political discourse. I had planned a gentle, thoughtful post here. I have, after all, billed myself as the Thoughtful Pastor, although some certainly question the appropriateness of my claim. My proposed [Read More…]

Help! Did God really want that child to die? Why didn’t God heal her?

We who call ourselves followers of Jesus carry the expectations that we will also heal, bring good news to the poor, offer release to the captives, give recovery of sight to the blind, and free the oppressed. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Last week, a Bible literalist church pastor was arrested in the death of his 2-year-old [Read More…]

SILENCE: a must-see profoundly Christ-centered film

It all goes wrong for two idealistic young Portuguese priests in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant work, SILENCE. For silence is what they get from God, despite all their earnest prayers and pleadings for answers and hope. The two, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver) have heard that their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), [Read More…]

The Brother printer, customer service and the church

Bissell vs Brother Customer service at its worst. Endless correspondence, multiple useless fixes, and a relatively new, what should be long-lasting workhorse black and white Brother laser printer is now destined for the trash heap–or where ever I can take a piece of broken electronics where its burying place will not further pollute the environment. [Read More…]

Notes from a retired pastor: musing from the cruising

My life has not turned out in any way that I expected when I decided to take early retirement. I had sensed strongly (and with significant pain for a lot of reasons) that God’s call upon my life had shifted its emphasis. I’ve always known there was a dual call: both to the pastorate and [Read More…]

The view from the pew, reflections from a retired clergy: guilt and peace edition

The Guilt Factor I’ve been retired from formal ministry for nearly three years now. Frankly, Christianity looks a lot different from the pew–and away from the church bubble. I just wrote a resignation letter to a non-profit agency where I have sat on the Board of Directors. I believe strongly in the mission and appreciate the [Read More…]

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I could be brilliant too if . . .

So, Donald, yes that great Republican and ever-so Christian man, is getting ready to be interviewed by the pastor, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International, in Detroit, MI, as part of his appeal to get more than 0% of the black vote. Now, the church community wanted Donald to actually speak in the church. [Read More…]

Secret Shame and Church Offering Plates: Let’s Talk about Money

“Viral” hardly describes what happened to this recent article in The Atlantic. It’s called “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class”. The author, Neal Gabler, is a well-known and well-respected writer. With naked vulnerability, he describes his own family’s descent into the “I can’t even find $400 to meet an emergency” situation. Gabler doesn’t make [Read More…]