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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Theological Education and the Spread of the Gospel: Antithetical?

This morning at General Conference, we saw a heated debate about providing much, much more money for theological education in Africa. The statement kept coming up about how fast the church is growing there. The call for far more funding for advanced theological studies there suggests that many African clergy may not have anywhere near the amount of [Read More…]

All hell breaking loose at General Conference

[Note: Keep checking the United Methodist Reporter site for latest news] This morning, after a plea from the highly respected Rev. Adam Hamilton that the Bishops of the UMC do their job and offer some leadership through our morass, the Bishops presented a statement. In that statement, they recommended that all legislation concerning human sexuality [Read More…]

General Conference Day One: A Beautiful Morning for a Gay Ordination

OK, Portland is gorgeous. Lovely flowering bushes sweetly frame the craftsman-style bungalow, an Airbnb rental where I’m staying with the United Methodist Reporter team. Delicious coolness kissed the morning air as a cloudless blue sky belied Portland’s reputation as a place that rains all the time. I would be happy just to sit outside and [Read More…]

Fifty Shades: Female Sexual Power May Be the Real Issue

Ray Rice stands in an elevator and punches out his then girlfriend.  Anastasia stands in the elevator and says loudly “Stop!” to the handsome, rich boyfriend, Christian. He is stopped in his tracks. That’s the difference between a woman with power and a woman without power. According to the Rev. Dr. William K. Kirby, one [Read More…]

The Seduction of Young Men and Destruction of Compassion by the Neo-Calvinist Church Planting Movement

When the theology says, “You are a totally depraved human being. Nothing good can happen to you unless the sovereign God decides to grant you a blessing,” then those who are “blessed” find perfect justification to believe that the poor and disadvantaged deserve what they get. When the theology says, “Men, you and you only [Read More…]

California Mystery Worship Three: Matter is Mortal Error

“Matter is mortal error.” I’m seeking to understand this phrase after attending worship at First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Thousand Oaks, CA. I arrived early, accompanying the friend of a friend who serves as summer vocalist. I had the opportunity to observe the two lay readers, the organist and the vocalist, all female, put [Read More…]

The Inquisition Cometh #UMC

I just read the heartbreaking report that some 60 (unnamed at this point) conservative pastors and theologians in the United Methodist Church have held a phone conversation about the deepening divisions within this denomination. From the news report: The group said that they were forming a smaller working group to bring suggestions to the larger [Read More…]

The Pastoral Life: They Die for Any Reason

I had just watched the dam deliver her fourth lamb, with help from the foreman of this lovely farm in the Cotswolds. This particular breed of sheep tend to give birth to twins regularly, but quads are highly unusual, and we just happened to be there at the right time to observe. Here’s the video. Be [Read More…]

The Freshness and Fragrance of the Gospel: Pope Francis and the UMC

In an interview published today, Pope Francis said the church should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings. Yes, he sounds very much like Jesus. I wonder how long he’ll last as Pope. I’d like to think a long time. But I [Read More…]