Thursday, July 31, 2008

So much for acting Pastorally

Skimming the blogs I was able to find out that Beaver-Butler Presbytery dismissed a congregation to the EPC with prayers and best wishes. That showed the Pastoral way of working with a congregation that while doctrinally alike with most of those in the presbytery, finds itself no longer doctrinally in tune with the rest of the PCUSA. All in all a gracious, and Christ-like way of behaving, as has been the Presbyterian way.

Then you have Washington Presbytery which, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette :
... has filed a countersuit against the Rev. L. Rus Howard and a church treasurer, demanding return of all church property and rent for use of the buildings.

There is some background to this, the majority of the original Peters Creek UPC:
has occupied the property since a 207-26 vote in November to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the more theologically conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

But Washington Presbytery, the local governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA), declared the minority who wanted to stay with the denomination the "true church."

It argues that the minority owns the property because the majority broke church law by taking the property without presbytery approval.

The majority filed a lawsuit last year to keep the property. The countersuit against the Rev. Howard, pastor of the majority, and Robert Elmes, the treasurer, asks for return of property ranging from the sanctuary to the handbells, and funds, financial instruments and pledges estimated to total about $3 million.

The church, as a registerd Pennsylvania corporation, filed suit against the Presbytery to keep the property saying that the 'trust clause' is in violation of its corporate rights. The Presbytery, following advice given by the PCUSA HQ in Louisville, is claiming that its a Hierarchical church, which to any Presbyterian lay person is a bunch of hooey !!

The original church suit named the Presbytery as the defendent, however the Presbytery's countersuit is:
against the Rev. Howard, pastor of the majority, and Robert Elmes, the treasurer, asks for return of property ranging from the sanctuary to the handbells, and funds, financial instruments and pledges estimated to total about $3 million.

A Peters Creek spokesman said that its okay for the Presbytery to file a countersuit against the church corporate, after all it filed against the Presbytery.
But to file a suit against two individuals, one of whom is a 74-year-old widower on a fixed income, is ... just an attempt to harass and intimidate and scare,"

The reply from the interim presbyter was basically, they sued us, we're suing them. However, the original suit (I believe) did not name individuals. Then you have the slight dig at the EPC by the interim presbyter.
We are preparing for the trial, as is the judge, as are the folks in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church," he said.

AFAIK ... the EPC has not involved itself in ANY litigation between congregations and a governing body of the PCUSA, and to imply that is self-serving and just mean.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Losing Weight.

I've been trying to lose weight lately. Oh I used to watch my weight previously. Yeah right ... I watched it as it rose when I stepped on the scale.

When I retired from the military, over the years I went from around 185 to 230. I had stayed around 226 for the longest time, but then went up to 232 and decided that I needed to do something.

I'm doing one of those plans that provide food, as well as help you realize what good portions are. In about 20 days or so I've lost about 7 pounds. This is not to say I don't cheat. I like to have dinner out, and there's one place I love to have lunch at. That said, I've already started to train my stomach on what a good portion is.

I never used to leave anything on the serving plate when I went to PF Chang's, now I regularly take home about half the serving. The diet recommends brown rice, well I really do not like brown rice, so steamed white rice it is. And I love it, and I'm still losing weight.

Lot of it has to do with the fact that it requires you to eat properly; veggies, fruit or salad at every meal, and that it provides a snack at mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and evening. This fulfills the craving for sweets, or something that normally would result in a bowl of ice cream, or something like that.

So, I hope to lose at least 20 pounds, the real test is when I take some vacation next month, will I have the will power to not pig out because I'm on vacation.

In any case, I hope my friends will see less of me during the next part of the year.

UPDATE: I now know I'm really losing weight when a pair of shorts that fit tight without a belt a few weeks ago, dropped to my knees as I walked down the stairs. Time to hit the boxes full of mothballs for any smaller sized clothes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Found this over at the Around the Scuttlebutt, who credits Rev. Kim, for the link.

Where I've visited in the US:

visited 28 states (56%)

Now some of these visits were made in conjunction with a job I had for a while with Uncle Sam. Then there's the map of the world ... again, with places visited thanks to Uncle Sam:

visited 12 states (5.33%)
Create your own visited map of The World or determine the next president

All in all, a mindless pursuit. FWIW ... I had no idea I had visited over half of the US.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Way ?

There's a funny email going around that purports to be a chain letter, that lists the attributes of a Perfect Pastor :

....The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone's feelings. He works from 8 a.m. until midnight, and is also the church janitor.

....The Perfect Pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the parish. He is 29 years old and has 40 years' worth of experience. Above all, he is handsome.

....The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teen-agers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his parish. He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.

....The Perfect Pastor always has time for parish council and all of it's committees. He never misses the meeting of any parish organization, and is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.

....The Perfect Pastor is always in the next parish over!

All in all fairly funny. However, the first line of the email is pretty telling: The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone's feelings. Are pastors getting to the point where they are so worried about offending someone in the church that they don't preach the entire Word? That there is something called sin that can separate us from sharing in the light of the Trinity ? Think about it, when was the last time your pastor talked about how Jesus is the only Way?

Come ot think about it, when was the last time anyone in Louisville's ecumenical office said anything about the Way, the Truth and the Life?

When you talk to the average Presbyterian, do they equivocate when asked if they believe other religions can lead to God? According to some, over 50% of those in the pews will. Why, because its the culture of the US to live and let live and give others the benefit of the doubt. So when Christ said that "no one goes to the Father but through Me" He was speaking to the people of that time, in the context of that place.

But hold on, Jesus is Lord, Savior and our God. He was God then, and He is God now. Beginning and the End, forever and ever. He knew what He was saying would be true then, and that it will be true today. Did Jesus lie ?? Did He tell an untruth ?? Did He who is without sin, sin ??

Somehow I don't think so.

Update Sat, July 26th: Evidently Sylvia Dooling feels the same way: .
Tip of the hat to Presbyweb for this link.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why is it that some churches simply die away?

I became a member at Stodgy Presbyterian Church a few years ago. As someone who is a computer geek, and who is not one to wait for someone to ask for help, I jumped right in to bring the church office into the 20th century .. still working on the 21st.

Upgraded the computers, added a network and broadband, all without much fanfare. I even created a web presence for the church. As I continued in membership, I noticed that the same people who were at the doors ushering/greeting, providing coffee, were the same people who were on Session and Deacons. After six years, they usually moved from one place to the other. Most of the work of the church is done during conversations between individuals in the halls or on the phone, and the rest of Session finds out once its already occurred.

Programs that worked fine 10 years ago, are still being run today. Any hint of a change, is greeted with the 7 last words of a dying congregation We've never done it that way before!. Staff with great ideas to expand the outreach of Sunday school and youth groups are driven off due to lack of support, and backbiting. In the meantime, the church has lost 1/3 of its members, some to moves, most to moving on to the Church Invisible since 2002.

I'm the evangelism elder, there are some things I'm happy to see I had a hand in, such as doubling the new members this year (yeah ... from 6 to 12 ... whoopee). However, an announcement of a new bible study at church, was greeted with indifference, and only 4 people turned up, none of whom notified the leader in advance.

We're looking to do an outreach course for the community. Starts off with dinner, then a talk, etc. I'm guessing some readers of this blog will know what I'm talking about. Again, a request for volunteers has gone out. In three weeks, no responses. I'm hoping I get some people before the official start ... cause I can't do this one all by myself.

Of course, you then get the how much is this costing? questions, or why does the pastor need a new computer? (even though his is completely shot), isn't there one around here he can use?, well yeah, only until the new staff member is hired, then what. People are so worried about the investments and cash flow and less worried that not using that hoard for the advancement of the church and Kingdom is not following the Great Commission.

I know this is not the way its supposed to work. Coming from an RC background, I learned more about Presbyterianism then most of the long term members of the church or of the Session. There's no urgency, no sense of gee, this church is dying . I can imagine in 10 years or so, hearing that the doors are being closed for good.

At least I tried.

Well ... Its time I had my own place!!

I’ve been floating around the various Presbyterian Blogs, reading, commenting, agreeing, disagreeing, and making a pest of myself.

Well, here’s a chance for everyone to get back at me. I’m not sure what I’ll post about, but it will be what I’m thinking about that day or week. At least I’ll have a chance to say I’ve got a blog, now the fun begins. What will this place look like. I’m thinking pastels !!

Here’s goes nothing.