Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

QG's Sappy Christmas Song Contest

Well, the results are in. While I didn't win the grand prize, I got an honorable mention as most prolific. I guess what that means is that I 'talk' a lot !!

Well, not really. I've been creating alternate lyrics to songs for as long as I can remember. Trying to come up with lyrics that will match the cadence of the original ones and still be logical can be very hard.

I do very well when I create a tune based on someone. At PTS, I attended a few unofficial graduation lunches, where we would roast the upcoming graduate. I would contribute a song, trying to base it on some aspect of the person. For instance, using a few John Denver songs was easy when there were graduates from Colorado (Rocky Mtn High) and West Virginia (Country Roads).

I could have used a Denver tune for another graduate, but since he was also a retired AF pilot, I used the Air Force Song. It kinda went like this:

Off he goes into the wild, blue yonder
Saving souls, for Christ the Lord.
Sermons full of brimstone's thunder,
At 'em Tom, give 'em the Son.
Heeded the call, without a sigh or whimper,
PTS gave him the Word.
He lives the same, keep them from the flames,
Nothing can stop Colonel Pastor Tom !!


.... and so it goes !!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter in Plodding PA

As many people on the mid-Atlantic and northeast coasts know, we're in the middle of a fairly big winter storm.

Where we used to live in NoVA, they're getting dumped on, we're not getting as much here in Plodding PA, but what we are getting has turned our backyard view into a Winter Wonderland.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good News for the New Year

As the longtime readers of this blog know (all 2 or 3 of you), I'm friends with a few people at Plodding Theological Seminary, or as I like to rib Rev. Kim, the better PTS.

Anyway, I heard from one of those friends who graduated this past June. It seems that she is going to preach her candidating sermon next month just before the Congregational Meeting to see if the Presbyterian Church in Cannoli* PA will call her to the pulpit there. As those of you who have been in the process know, this is a time of negotiation over terms of call, as well as one of uncertainty since she would be the first female pastor (other than the interim) called to this church.

However, if the way be clear, she is looking at ordination and installation sometime early next year. So she's busy putting together the service of ordination, as well as installation. Not to mention having to find pastors and elders to fill two commissions as she will be ordained in one presbytery (Nother Completely-different Presbytery), and installed in another (Crimson-rock Presbytery). Trying to do all this just before Christmas is frustrating, as everyone is concentrating on the holy day. However, you really don't want to put this off until later, as some people may have vacation plans right after Christmas to get some time off before Lent !!

Needless to say, she is being very calm and patient about this, although she says her hubby is a nervous wreck.

... and so it goes.

* all church and location names are changed to protect the innocent ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

QG's Sappy Christmas Song Contest

For the past three years, blogger Quotidian Grace has sponsored the Sappy Christmas Song Contest. I have been privileged the past year or two to add a stanza or two to the song, which gets sappier and funnier as it goes along.

For those gentle readers of this blog who have not visited QG's blog this year, please do so, its getting good: Sappy Christmas Song .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Thumb Saga ... the road goes ever on !!

As we left my thumb about two weeks ago, it had just been prodded, xray-ed and put back in a cast. Yesterday, it was finally freed from the last hard cast. For the past six weeks, my left hand always looked like it was giving a thumbs up anytime I turned my hand sideways. Today, I can actually have the thumb move around a bit.

Which brings me to this thought. I want the hard cast back !!! I didn't realize that the cast was protecting me from the muscle movements I haven't done in six weeks. OWWWWW!!

My first physical therapy was today. Its amazing, I get to pay (well my health insurance does) to have someone take my thumb and do things that make me long to have my bad joint back because it never hurt this bad.

Of course, its not the joint that is causing the pain, that is long gone now, its the muscles that were rudely moved out of the way for the surgery, along with the other muscles and joints that have not been used for six weeks.

Before the cast was removed, I had visions of driving to visit SWMBO's family in a warmer part of the US. Now, I have no doubts that driving for prolonged periods of time would not be a good thing. I have to keep saying that this is all for the good, and that Aleve* is my friend.

At least I can type better than before, no cast to get in the way.

.... and so it goes !!

* registered trademark of Bayer Healthcare LLC.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Member, Part II

Well, Luke has realized that he's not going to be cast out into the cold, but he does get a bit anxious when we close the door to the room he's being kept in as we exit.

We're doing this for two reasons:

1. He has worms, as do most kittens. So we want to keep the 'old ladies' away from the litter box until everything is, um, cleaned out.

2. We need to have the 'old ladies' grow accustomed to the new member of the household. On the occasions we've let them see Luke, there was some definite hissy fits, with an emphasis on the HISS !!

The oldest, Delenn, still has issues with her younger 'sister', Padme (OK .. can you see the drift on the naming convention we use ??). However, they do get along, as two spayed females. We're now introducing a male kitten into the mix. While he is not yet old enough to be neutered (in six months), and is still in his childhood; there may be some pheromones that the ladies are not used to sensing.

So, we're using Feliway pheromone atomizers to try and calm them down. In the meantime, Luke is exploring his galaxy.

... and so it goes!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Member of the Family

Well, my wife was heading out to choir practice last night, when she heard some meowing. As a cat person, she realized that it was of the I'm in distress kind, not the usually I'm here, I'm here kind.

She picked up the poor little thing, and brought it inside. We isolated it in a room away from our two 'old ladies', and gave it something to eat and drink. It gobbled that down so fast I was worried it would get sick, but he then curled up in my lap, and turned on his motor.

This morning my wife called the vet, and got him in for a quick checkup. Turns out he's about 9 weeks, must have just been weaned off his mom, but we really have no clue where he came from. He's in very good shape, and has the usual ear mites and worms found in many a young kitten found in shelters nowadays. We started him on his shots, and took care of everything else. So, other than a crooked tail (which the vet said was probably a ligament sprain that happened when he was very, very young) he's our newest member of the family. The 'old ladies' know something's here, but are not exactly sure what. He'll get to know them better in a week or so.

So meet our new kitty, Luke Skywalker.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chewing, then spitting out a pastor.

OK ... a bit of venting time.

I'm eclectic in my blog reading. I like to read blogs of all types, and have an affinity for blogs of those who are female pastors, as I have a few close female friends who are or were in seminary. In all cases, I wish those who write their blogs well, and pray for their ministry.

Well, this past Sunday, someone who I follow on a semi-regular basis was fired by the Congregation she currently serves. The timing is impeccable, just before Christmas, but it sounds like the Session of this church is composed of a bunch of CEO's more used to giving orders, than doing anything themselves, or thinking about the consequences of their actions.

I quote:
What really happened is that the chair of personnel told the congregation that I was incorrigible, disobedient, and did not toe the line according to what his committee told me to do. He outlined his program of requirements designed to "tally, compute, and account for my effectiveness as a CEO." He related that I had failed all of the required activities as measured by 1) an increase in members and 2) an increase in offerings.

Of course, all this because the Pastor was trying to bring the Session along into a model of shared ministry. Does this Session think that mega-churches grow only because of the pastor's efforts? Its obvious no-one there did any research on how Rick Warren's Saddleback Church operates.

Again I quote:
I outright refused to encourage the leadership of our congregation to become emotional and spiritual cripples, which was what I was ordered to do. I was told repeatedly over the last eleven months that the session had no interest in participating in ministry, since that was what I was paid to do.


Someone commented on the post that the 'congregation was rooted in the 50's'. Thinking about that, I understand it to mean that at that time, it was the church staff who did all the work, because the church at that time had enough members and contributions to pay someone to do it.

Those days are over, if they ever existed. Today churches grow only through the shared ministry of the Pastor (or pastors) and the leaders and membership of the church. It is a fact that most people visit a church not due to a great website; although having one that is easy to navigate is a good thing, or the big sign out front, but by a personal invitation to come to worship.

If the congregation and their elected and ordained officers do not take ownership of their own growth, then the Presbytery will take ownership of the empty building in about 15 years.

..... and so it goes !

The Continuing Saga

For the past two weeks, my left hand has looked like I've been giving a thumbs up 24/7.
Today, we get this first cast off for another x-ray and exam by the surgeon. I've been off any OTC pain drugs for the surgery pain for a while, now I'm just taking some for the muscle aches I talked about in a previous post.

So, he'll look, and gently prod, and ask how it feels, then put be back into a cast for another two weeks. This time I'll ask for blue, the last time I had black. Yup, I can then say my arm was black and blue after the surgery. ;)

..... and so it goes !!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ordination Vows

Will you be governed by our church’s polity, and will you abide by its discipline? Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry, working with them, subject to the ordering of God’s Word and Spirit?

This is one of the ordination vows that one takes when one is ordained as a Deacon, Elder (Ruling Elder) or Minister of the Word and Sacrament (Teaching Elder) in the PCUSA.

It seems that a Pastor in New Jersey has violated that oath: Article from the Presbyterian Outlook .

It seems that we now have a very visible test of whether or not a Presbytery, Synod or the PCUSA in general are going to actually enforce discipline on someone who willfully disregards her oath and our church's Constitution.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Thumb Saga - a continuing story !!

Over the past week, I've found that 3 or 4 pounds of hard cast makes your upper arm muscles very sore. I tend to push the envelope a bit when it comes to pain. I try to ignore twinges and sore muscles as I feel they are signs of aging. Yeah, I know, typical male ;)

This past week, I was doing some website work for a customer and, as a touch typist, tried to use the four fingers of my left hand that are not being held in stasis as usual. Of course, I kept my arm in its usual position, the one I learned when I first learned how to type. Elbows off the desk, just as if I were sitting at a typewriter.

That resulted in a sleepless night due to a very sore upper set of muscles that were not used to having an additional weight at the end of an appendage that usually works quite nicely. My wife's suggesting of the heating pad helped the next morning (as the Tylinol was not working) to alleviate the pain. I spent most of the day with the pad on the arm, and dozing off in my La-z-boy. Scratch that day's activities off the list.

Well, come this past Monday. I volunteer a Monday every other week at SPC, filling in for one of our part-time secretaries who is recouping from a surgery. I get to do the bulletin, and I've been bringing the church red books up to date. Turns out the Session minute book was three years out of date, more on this in another post. In any case, I was doing some major typing for about 3 or 4 hours.

This is also the time I get to check the entries in our church database system. I update the attendance for the past Sunday, then check the entries made by the other part-time secretary who keeps reminding me that she's on the B Team. That is: she B here when I arrived, and she'll B here when I leave. Which also means that the nice guides I put together with screenshots from the program, annotating exactly how to avoid creating duplicate database records for families, just gather dust in the bottom of a drawer. This was a light week, only took me a half hour to correct the database.

So what does this have to do with the continuing story? Remember what I said about the arm previously?? OWWWWIE !!

.... and so it goes !!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Sore Thumb - Redux

So far, so good. The thumb is currently encased in gauze, cotton batting, thumb brace and ace bandage. Its braced at an angle so it doesn't move, this is to keep the bones and the spacer aligned until everything heals.

The next step happens Monday, when they take this soft cast off, and replace it with something much harder, and heavier.

And so it goes .....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Sore Thumb!!

I've not talked about this previously, as I've always been able to work around it, however, now I have no choice.

I had arthritis in my left thumb, I say had as last Tuesday I had surgery to correct my lack of cartilage there. I am now walking around with 5 pounds of gauze,ace bandage and splints to keep the thumb and wrist from moving and tearing up the repair.

The liberal use of Percodan helps with pain, but it does not help when I try to type one handed. So, until I install some voice recognition software, I won't be commenting much, here or anywhere. I'm too impatient and dislike it taking 4 or 5 times as long to get things done.

I'm also praying more for those who have lost their use of their hands while serving on Active Duty.

I'll be back!!

.... and so it goes !!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Answer to Previous Puzzle

In my last blog post, I listed a blurb that was put in our monthly newsletter by our Stewardship Commission. I asked if anyone could figure out exactly what my wife saw as a problem.

Quotidian Grace saw one issue, no one was asked to bring their pledge cards to worship. That was part of it, but the other was more subtle.

Notice that the members are being asked to demonstrate our support to Stodgy Presbyterian Church . Not to the works and mission of SPC, but to SPC.

Some would say but that's implicit in the request but is it ?? How many people or congregations (and by inference: denominations) are more interested in the physical plant of the church, than the works and mission of the church.

It all goes back to the fact that in many churches we're not creating disciples, just country club members.

... and so it goes !!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stewardship Education

SPC's stewardship education leaves a lot to be desired. Frankly, its practically non-existant. Here is a sample, this was printed in our monthly newsletter:

October 18th is designated Stewardship Sunday. It is important that we all demonstrate our support to Stodgy Presbyterian Church through our annual pledges. Please return your pledge card to the Church as soon as possible. They are needed for planning purposes for next year.


OK ... can anyone see what SWMBO noticed immediately when reading that ?? A virtual cigar to the first person to comment correctly.

... and so it goes!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Hole With Four Wheels !!


Back when SWMBO and I had money, about ten years ago or so, we were living in the Land of Lincoln, and taking off every other weekend to go camping.

At that time we were avid tent campers, with a very large dome tent, and all the accessories. Occasionally it would rain, but we were very good at setting up the tent on the high ground, and trenching around the tent. Then came one night, it must have come down about 3 inches in a half-hour. While the floor of the tent held up, it seems that the waterproof fly wasn't all that waterproof, and then tent seams weren't all that sealed.

We packed up the sodden mess that night, and headed to the nearest motel. A month or so later, we decided to head out to a location we had not visited before. It was July, and the weather was decidedly dryer ... and warmer. That first day we setup around 2pm, and then went to take a nice cool shower. Temp was in the high 80's, as was the humidity.

We got back to the tent, just as hot and sweaty as we were before the shower. Luckily the tent was in a shady spot, but there wasn't much of a breeze that day. That evening, we tried to get to sleep, but it was too warm. Went out to a nearby Wall of Mart (blissfully air conditioned), and picked up a fan along with a 200 foot extension cord. Plugged in the cord to the RV electric box there, and ran the fan all night. Next day, we lasted until 12 and then packed it in. On the way home we made a resolution to buy a small RV.

We found a used one, found out afterwards it needed a lot of reconstruction, and traded it in on a new one (something like the picture). It was (and is) still great. Air Conditioning, stove, fridge, mini-shower and commode, and a generator so we can dry camp. Trouble is, these things take a lot of maintenance.

Unfortunately, there was a period of about two years I didn't do any preventive maintenance, not a good thing. Now I spend my time sealing leaks, and trying to keep the whole thing from falling apart. I have no one to blame but myself, but they could have made it easier to work on. I'm hoping that I can find a place that can do reconstructive work on the overhang. The manufacturer figured out that the overhang was a long-term accident waiting to happen, and started using a one-piece fiberglass shell with less seams and fewer problems. Its too late for me, unless I can find someone who can do a retrofit, which would involve additional investment.

And they call boats a hole in the water a man pours his money into; they should own an RV !!

... and so it goes !!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Multi-generational

Was reading Presbyweb (or as its now known Church and World - PCUSA Edition) today, and saw a blurb about an article John Ortberg wrote for the Leadership Journal.

Clicked on the link to the article, and started reading. A very good article by the way, but what struck me was this thought:

I was looking at church websites not long ago and noticed a fascinating dynamic. Many new churches have been formed with "multi-cultural" as part of their DNA and a stated value. But I have not yet seen a new church plant with "multi-generational" in its vision statement. In all the cases I read (in an admittedly non-scientific sample), "multi-generational" in a church's self-description was a euphemism for "we are an aging church that wants to have more young people attending so that we don't die, but we don't want to change enough to actually attract any of them to come."


My emphasis above. FWIW ... Stodgy Presbyterian has multi-generational on its Welcome page. As the webmaster for SPC, I've been racking my brain to remember where I got that blurb. Turns out I found it on the monthly newsletter's main page.

And, as with many things, John Ortberg has that down pat !!

Update: When I mentioned this to SWMBO, she gave a corollary to the definition given above. She felt that John Ortberg would approve it whole-heartedly: "In addition to the definition given, you can add The young families we currently have are limited to the children of the members who grew up in the church.

... and so it goes

Monday, August 31, 2009

Creeping Crud



For the past four days I've had what I call, The Creeping Crud. Its basically an upper respiratory illness that creeps over me like the Blob of movie lore.

It starts out with a slight scratchiness to the throat with a dry cough when I talk too much. It then moves to a full blown sore throat, which accompanying chest congestion, and nose running the marathon.

Invariably I'm too sick to get out of bed to head over to the quick express medical place until the secord or third full day of symptoms. I've already missed a day of work by that time, and usually find out that I'm going to miss a few more.

Not that I'm contagious (they tested for flu) its just that I'm achy, sore and tired. Its amazing how tired you get when you're sick, and coughing. By the fourth day, my lungs are sore from the coughing, and it feels like I've been worked over by the old NYPD boileroom boys*.

By the fifth day, I'm not quite 100%, but well enough to head back to work. Happy Happy, Joy Joy !!

... and so it goes


*In case you don't get that reference, they were supposedly a bunch of cops with rubber hoses that were liberally applied to the sides of the offender.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Contemporary Christian Music


We've been doing a short Praise and Worship time before our traditional service this summer. We don't have a flashy worship team, its just myself, SWMBO, an acoustic guitarist, and our Minister of Music on piano. Obviously, that's not us on the right!!

We don't sound all that bad, in fact one of our older saints says she thinks I have a fantastic voice. Of course, I'm not so sure how good her hearing is. That said, we make a Joyful Noise.

We only do three songs, and our guitarist is still learning and does mostly chords, and only in certain keys. Our Music Minister tries to play all four parts on the piano, and does his darnedest to slow down even the fastest contemporary song.

However, this week, both the guitarist and the pianist are out of town on vacation. So, I get to find karaoke versions of songs to use as accompaniment. I'm sure not going to do this a Capella.

That said, we're lucky to get more than 20 people during this time, and most of them show up about 5 minutes before the main service, with the rest of the congregation showing up during the passing of the peace just before the call to worship.

Needless to say, our congregation is not all that enthused about this. I do realize that contemporary music is not for all churches, nor is it the cure-all for a church that is not growing, but anything that makes Stodgy Presbyterian a bit less stodgy helps. So we try, and we sneak in a contemporary hymn about once or twice a month, just to shake things up. The problem is, we really need a rhythm section to keep our pianist (and sometimes the guitarist) on the beat.

And so it goes ....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Its been a very slow summer, what with vacation, and heat waves, and the summertime blahs. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'd rather have the heat than the cold and snow of winter, its just that after spending five weeks on the grand tour in June and the beginning of July, the rest of the summer is just an anticlimax.

There are a few things that need doing, and I'll get to them sometime this week, but really, with the heat index in the 90's and the humidity, and then the thunderstorms, who can get anything done. Oh, SWMBO will get me going, that I know, but right now, just sitting with my keyboard typing away is so much preferable to actually doing something.

Maybe because I reached my 39th birthday on a week ago, just like Jack Benny used to. Of course, I'm much older than that (I've got my AARP card), but I haven't yet reached Social Security retirement age. Still, I think I can go to work at TJ's and toss cases of corn around like the 20 year old next to me does. Then I come home the next day and have SWMBO slather Watkins(R) Warming Analgesic Balm* all over my back and shoulders.

I've been away from the blog for the same reason, lethargy, and really nothing to write about. Well, I could have, but I've been biting my tongue (or in this case, binding my hands) from commenting on the various goings on in the many Christian denominations. I'm wondering if He shouldn't come back with a rope's end to start tossing the tables, and clearing the temple again.

I hear people talking about the 'Dietary' laws when the 'elephant' argument comes up, but then I read in Matt 15:10-11
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "
. Then in Matt 5:17-18:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.


Yet people listen, but do not hear.

But as I'm rambling on, you may also notice that the blog has another skin. I had intended to leave the Harry Potter theme up for only a week or two (that got away from me) and replace it with my old theme. However, I did some searching through Google and found a theme that I liked, and so the place has been remodeled once more. I hope the new look is pleasing to the eye, and to the reader.

And so it goes .... (with a tip of the hat to the late Uncle Walter)

*if you want to know how to get some, leave a comment and I'll get back to you ;)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Defining Church .. hmmm, not really !!

In reading yesterday's (July 21) Presbyweb, there was a link to an article on Dr. Joseph Small's talk at the Calvin Jubilee held in Montreat.

One thing in the article struck this Reformed Catholic as in error, and I admit I'm not as well versed in Calvin as some. I quote:


Small focused on three aspects of Calvin’s thoughts on the church that remain relevant today: word and sacrament as central marks of the church, a unified plural ministry of clergy and laity and the communion of congregations.


Now, I'm not sure if this is exactly what Dr. Small's said, or if this was messaged by the reporter, but having attended lectures on Calvin from someone who has made Calvin his specialty (Dr. Charles Partee), I don't believe that is what Calvin actually wrote.

So I checked via Google, and found this information from Dr. C. Matthew McMahon on the site "A Purian's Mind". I won't go through the whole article, but I will list the three Marks as listed there, with supporting Scripture verses:

Mark 1: Sound Doctrine (John 8:31, 47; 14:23; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-4:4; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 9-11)

Mark 2: Right Administration of the Sacraments(1 Cor. 10:14-17, 21; 11:23-30)

Mark 3: The Right Administration of Discipline (Matthew 18:17; Acts 20:28-31a; Rom. 16:17-18a; 1 Cor. 5:1-5, 13; 14:33, 40; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 5:6, 11; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; 1 Tim. 1:20; 5:20; Titus 1:10-11; 3:10; Rev. 2:14-16a; 2:20).

Again, not sure if Dr. Small was emphasizing areas of his concern; he is trying to bring back the idea of teaching/ruling elders, or just eliminating areas of Calvin's thoughts that are inconvenient to those who are currently holding power in the PCUSA.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Blog Template !

OK, I'm a geek ... found this on the Harry Potter website, and thought, what the heck, for a few weeks, it won't hurt.

I'll have to rebuild the old template gadgets, but for the fun of having a Harry Potter skin on the blog, its worth it ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince



Just got back from the midnight show of Harry Potter and the HBP. Okay, so I'm a geek. I think I was the oldest person there without kids. So be it, however, SWMBO was along to enjoy the movie, and I have to say, I enjoyed the movie.

However, much as the novels got darker in 5, 6 and 7, so the movie starts out dark, gets a bit lighter, then dives back into the darkness. The writer, Steve Kloves, who's written every movie except for Order of the Phoenix, did a very good job in keeping most of the feel of the book, yet allowing for the visual needs of the screen vs. the mental pictures of the book. Some scenes were altered to allow for a more visual staging, yet they lose nothing of the suspense found in the same scene in the novel.

I could go into more detail, but I really don't want to start creating spoilers. All I need to say is this:

1. If you liked the book, run do not walk and see the movie
2. The movie is much darker than the previous, it is rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality. (OK ... Ron gets snogged for most of the first half of the film) :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting back to the Daily Grind

Well, after five weeks on the road, coming back home is somehow bittersweet. Yes we both had time to relax and renew, but the reality that playtime is over is here.

Sunday, we lead the praise time we have here each summer. The stodgy folks here at SPC; you know the types they've been here since the church went up and nothing changes in my church, would not hold to do something like that during the normal worship service. So, we get 10 minutes prior to the normal worship time. What that means is that while we're up front singing Come, Now is the Time to Worship, people are walking in making small talk, and basically ignoring us up front. Luckily a few people join in the singing, and eventually the talkers get the idea.

Monday, I spent time working on the network to clean up a few things that occurred while I was on vacation, then Tuesday I changed the church announcement sign that has had the same thing since the middle of May. I had hoped someone would get the idea that maybe VBS should be advertised, but I did that today. At least someone had the forethought to change the worship time from the usual 11am to the summer hours of 9:30am.

Would be nice to have Air Conditioning, but that would call for a capital campaign, which would mean actually asking people to pledge.

FWIW .. I didn't begin this as a rant post, but it turned out that way. I think the reason was that I found out that someone who was the Deacon Moderator last year, and one of those stodgy folks I mentioned above, decided after her 3 years on the Board was over, to start attending a different church.

I won't go into what I think are the reasons, just that it seems like a temper tantrum, and she took her ball and went home.

I think that differentiates those who look at the church as a club, and those who look at the church as a group of believers who worship the Living God. Those who worship, work at making the church open to all who come through the door seeking Christ. Those who club, want to keep the church the way it is for themselves and their associates.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Last day on the road.

Its been an interesting 4 or 5 weeks on the road. Visiting friends in Virginia, Big Tent in Atlanta, relaxing by the river in Florida, then winding up with the Christian Life Conference in Montreat. Yesterday was a travel day to Sutton WV, where we RON'd (Remained Over Night) after 6 hours of driving. We try to break it up, rather than rush to where we're going. Later today, its 3 or 4 more hours of driving, then we're back home, back to the usual grind.

Work, and then a church that does not realize its dying. I had more meaningful worship with people I didn't know at the Christian Life Conference than with those I normally attend church with.

I'm not tossing criticism at SPC's Pastor or Minister of Music, its the congregation itself. Unwilling to try new things, unwilling to do more than attend an hour a week (then going through the motions when there), and unwilling to do anything that changes their church. Get a clue people ... It's not yours, its HIS.

The people at the Christian Life Conference got that, they understood that church is more than a building, that worship happens more once a week, that it can last more than an hour, it's more than traditional hymns and organ, or even contemporary hymns and guitar. Its about taking the time to learn more about what Jesus said, what God the Father has planned, and how the Holy Spirit can come and work in your life.

I'm not sure how much I will retain of this week. I left there renewed, I hope I can sustain that over the next year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Final Day at the Christian Life Conference


This morning was the last session of the Christian Life Conference. Dr. Bailey again lead us in a walk through the parables of Jesus. Today's was the parable of the Good Shepherd. Again, he brought us from the Old Testament to the New, showing how Jesus took an OT theme, one well known to the Pharisees, and then turned it on its ear to show up those Pharisees in front of the rest of the community.

After the teaching, we celebrated Communion. SWMBO and I had the honor to serve along with 7 other couples. It was a very moving ceremony, my eyes got all blurry as we sang the Lord's Prayer to close the conference.

Depending on where we are, we will probably attend again next year. Next year's conference is being held at the same time as the 2010 GA. One of the goals for next year's conference is to fill the Anderson Center to overflowing. So, if you aren't a commissioner to the GA, come to the CLC as there will be prayers flowing from Montreat asking that the Spirit helps renew the PCUSA.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Third day at Montreat.

Last night ended with another great talk by Dr. Ridgill, who managed to get the assembled Presbyterians to witness when asked with a loud Amen.

Today, started out with a great devotional, then a bible study wrap-up by Dr. Bailey on his insights into the parable of the Prodigal Son which, when viewed through Dr. Bailey's over 20 years in the Middle East, showed us that the usual take on this parable would not have been the point (or points) that Jesus was making when He told the story.

As real estate agents say Location, Location, Location, Dr. Bailey emphasized Context, Context, Context, and the context of that parable was of the 1st century Palestine, when the head of the household, in this case the father of the parable, would have never acted in the way the parable describes. I would heartily recommend finding Dr. Bailey's Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel's Story to discover Dr. Bailey's insights. BTW .. he is still finding themes in the parable that he did not notice previously.

A Seminar with PFR's Paul Detterman and Bob Snelling was next on my list, Congregational Renewal in the 21st Century. This was interesting as it was more a way for Paul and Bob to get some ideas on how to target renewal training in the future. We had about 4 groups of 5 or 6 discussing questions as put out by Bob. This group had some great insights on what may be needed for reaching out to the 30 & 40-somethings who do not get church or who may not see a need for church renewal.

Right now SWMBO is attending a seminar on Holistic Faith Nurture in a Fragmented World, which will cover faith nurture at home and church. How can the joy of nurturing faith spill out of a 45-minute Sunday School class into the whole of our congregations life? I hope to get some insight from her. Me ... I need a breather. They sell a t-shirt here, that reads Montreat ... its not flat. Boy do I agree !!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Second Day at Montreat

Second day at Montreat, fantastic morning devotion, a bible study by Dr. Ken Bailey, worship with a Dr. Bailey sermon; and a concert by David Bailey (Dr. Bailey's son), could a Sunday be made better? Yes, another plenary session with sermon by Dr. Alice Ridgill.

And so it goes ...

Renewal at Montreat

SWMBO and I are attending the Christian Life Conference held at Montreat every year by Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR). This first evening consisted of registration, and then the keynote speaker. This is our first time at the conference, but it has been going on since 1972.

Our keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Alice Ridgell, is a very powerful speaker, coming from the African-American tradition of preaching. Having listened to my friends from Plodding Theological Seminary talk about the homiletics classes they've gone through, it was very interesting to hear her, and pick up on the repetition that a good sermon must have to reinforce the teachings therein.

The conference theme this year is Our Father's Love, and the sermon's topic of No Greater Love kept referring back to that theme, which was printed on the banners hanging from the Anderson Assembly Hall stage. She kept referring back to those banners and its theme, by gestures and turning toward them when emphasizing her topic. Very effective preaching. A few AMENs were heard from the Frozen Chosen in the pews at salient points, something you would not have expected considering the light complexion of the assemblage.

The worship leader is the Rev. Dr. Robert Austell, who blogs at lighthouse/searchlight church. He brought some of his worship team with him, and the group is fabulous. He's doing a blend of traditional and contemporary music, and I can really get into that. However, some in the assemblage do not feel the same way.

After the keynote, many of us migrated to Assembly Hall's upper lobby for a hymn sing. Using the blue hymnal, we sang many outstanding traditional hymns. The Rev. Paul Detterman, Executive Director of PFR, and an outstanding musician and singer in his own right (his very precise tenor kept me on the tenor line all evening ... well mostly), accompanied on the piano as people called out their favorite hymns. That said, I wished for a red hymnal so that we could sing Onward Christian Soldiers which didn't make it into the blue hymnal as (I'm given to understand) it was too militaristic. Talk about misunderstanding the words and thoughts behind that great hymn.

Anyway, one gentleman of great years remarked at the end of the sing, that the earlier worship music time left him unfulfilled, and this hymn sing made him filled. As my wife commented as we walked to our car, we weren't singing for him. Kind of sums up many of the issued of the music wars in our churches. What are now traditional hymns were as contemporary in their day, and probably had the same complaints as our contemporary hymns do today. Which reminds me, I need to get in touch with the music director at Stodgy Presbyterian. We need to select a few contemporary hymns and songs to start our praise and worship time starting on the 12th. These ten minutes prior to our Summer worship is the closest we can get to a contemporary or blended worship right now.

And so it goes ....

Missed the prairie ....

Hmm ... I occurred to me that I had a theme going there for the past few posts, then I missed a 4th of July post. So, having mentioned the river(s), and the mountains, I had to mention the prairies on what will be a 4th of July post.

That said, I also missed any live fireworks (other than those being set off by individuals), as I was busy elsewhere last evening. More on that in the next post.

Anyway, we hit the road again on the 3rd, leaving the river and Florida behind, and arrived at the waypoint without much of a kitty opera. I think the cats have gotten accustomed to the road a bit. The white one has taken to it fully, she has no problem with getting on the dashboard and lying there as we travel the roads. Passengers in passing cars tend to do a double take. The grey one just sits under my seat, and complains whenever we hit a bump on the road. Still, its better than a chorus of Aida for an hour or so as we heard when we started out.

Its orange barrel time in the South, and Georgia has taken full advantage of it. I-95 is being torn up in parts, with the highway going from 3 to 2 lanes, and lane shifts all over the place. Evidently there were some very timid souls heading south to Florida on the 3rd (along with most of the east coast it seemed), as these normal summer occurrences seemed to have scared them into a crawl. Which then caused a backup, which I measured at 7 to 8 miles long, and growing. Those of us heading north, had no such issues.

Made the final half of the trip to Montreat on the 4th, and it seemed like all the idiots came out to play. You had the people who did not believe the right side view mirror when it says that Things may be closer then they seem in the mirror. I had two drivers who almost clipped me while passing me and moving back into the right hand lane. FWIW ... I always stay in the slow lane with the RV, usually doing 65 although some states have a speed limit of 70. The RV can do that easily, but with a mileage of 8 or 9 MPG, I'd rather save a bit on gas.

The other idiot was the type that my wife and I call a rock in the road. Did you ever watch a stream or brook as it flows. They normally flow quite fast, until they hit a rock in the stream bed, then there's turbulence, and the stream slows. The same happens on the road with traffic, which has a fluid dynamic. Traffic flows swiftly, until it reaches someone that is not doing the speed limit. While I admit that I keep the RV about 5 mph below the limit, the real rocks are those drivers who: a) do less than the limit in the left hand, or passing lane, or b) pull onto a highway using the on ramp, and never even try to accelerate to something approaching the speed limit until after everyone who had to slow down to make way for them entering the highway has panicked, slowing down even less than the idiot who didn't properly merge in the first place.

What really galls me about these types is that after I have moved to the left lane to avoid what would have been an interesting meeting with the idiot, then they proceed to speed up to either pass me, or keep me from moving back to the right hand lane. So I slow down to get over, and I get the interesting hand gestures from those I inconvenienced.

Then we arrived at the KOA in Swannanoa, just outside of Montreat, and I was ready for some renewal ... and a quick shower.

And so it goes ....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

To the mountains ....

We're getting packed up and ready to head to the mountains of North Carolina and Montreat. The PFR's Christian Life Conference is being held there this weekend, so on the 4th we'll be enjoying some great worship, seminars, and fellowship.

Hope to see some of you there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

On the river ....


We're taking some time off to recharge, sitting on a spring fed river in the state where the Mouse has a World. Was sitting on the dock, when she floated up the river right up to us.

I love this place !!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On the road ....

We've been on the road for the past few days, and are now in Atlanta. We're doing some touring, and I'll be attending Friday's sessions of the Elder Conference. I hope to get some good info to bring back to SPC.

We're then going to head down to SWMBO's hometown to relax and recharge. We've not done this in a while, and we both need it.

I hope to have pictures later ;)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Off on vacation ....

SWMBO and I are taking a trip down to the land of sun, surf, and Mickey Mouse. While I won't be visiting Mr. Mouse this trip, I will be stopping off in Atlanta to attend at least one day of the National Elder's Conference at the Big Tent Event in Atlanta.

Hope to meet a few people there!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Attending Graduation ....

Last night I attended a Baccalaureate service at Plodding Theological Seminary. A few friends of mine are graduating from PTS this year, and so I was invited to attend. Today is the graduation ceremony, but first there is an awards brunch, to which I was also invited.

I have to say that I'm going to miss the friends who are graduating. While I didn't attend there, I got to know many of them through a close friend of mine who attends Stodgy Presbyterian, and is a graduating senior at PTS. This also means that I will have fewer contacts at PTS, as we pray that many of the graduates are called to pulpits very soon.

Anyway, last night's Baccalaureate was fantastic. The service was great, as many of the graduating seniors were readers, and a couple assisted with Communion. The Sermon was outstanding!! If anyone remembers reading the Presbyterian Outlook in the mid-90's, you will remember the columns by Dr. Charles Partee as witty and funny. He does love his puns, and he had us in stitches last night. His beginning was punctuated by laughter from the assembled graduates, faculty and family members in attendance. Each pun built up the next, however, do not think it was all humor, as he approached the last half of the sermon, he was very serious and gave a charge to the graduates that I know they will remember.

As Dr. Carl said in his welcome, this was Dr. Partee's final, official act as a member of the faculty; he retires this year after 31 years of service to PTS, and over 50 years as pastor/teacher/professor/theologian to the Presbyterian Church.

So, today the graduating class of 2009 will receive their diplomas. I'm not sure of the total count of degrees being bestowed, I seem to remember it was over 70 or so. I'll update later once I find out for sure. However, considering PTS has 1/3 the campus (and probably a lot less faculty) than some other PCUSA seminaries, that's not bad at all !!

Then again, I'm biased!!

... and so it goes !!

Update: it was a total of 69 MDiv and DMin degrees.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

But we can't do that .....

For those who have been reading my screeds over the past year, you'll need no introduction to this, for others, well, suffice it to say that the Session at Stodgy Presbyterian puts the fun in dysfunctional.

This past Sunday we had our annual meeting to elect officers. Why they do it in May and not November has to do with reasons that are lost in time and history. However, as the head of the Nominations Committee I had to make a report that while we have officers to elect, we still have vacant positions on both Session and the Deacon Board.

This past Monday, we had a Session meeting and I made a report to Session from the Committee. Basically I gave an overview of what we were expected to do. We average about 90 to 120 attendees at Worship each Sunday. From that you can deduct about 10 to 15 as being too young to server, and another 15 to 20 in their 70's or 80's and not having the health stamina to serve.

So we're down to approximately 65 to 90 participating members of the congregation in which to staff 30 positions (15 on Session and 15 for the Deacons). Many of those potential officers have served multiple times in either positions and are tired, and do not wish to serve again.

I didn't give any advice in the report, when asked I suggested we look at two things: one, size of the Session and Board, two, what do we want the Deacons to do. Someone brought up the Unicameral model, and that was also added to the list.

About 1/2 of Session agreed that we need to look at sizes, however, there were at least one or two vocal dissenters. The problem is that many members of Session still think that when you're on Session you're expected to do everything, they do not understand what being an Elder on Session means. When the idea of Session revising what the Deacons are supposed to do came up, someone said that we shouldn't do that. Again, not showing any knowledge of what the Book of Order has to say. Someone else said that the last time any idea of what the Deacons were going to do was brought up, the Deacons were the ones who gave Session the list of what they were going to do !!

So, we are going to form a committee (how very Presbyterian) of Elders and Deacons to determine what responsibilities the Session will assign the Board of Deacons. I would have volunteered for this, but I'll be on a road trip in June and I would not want to see that time wasted. I just hope that they bring what the Book of Order has to say about the duties of Deacons to the table.

And so it goes ....

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Relevance ... or are we 'relevanting' our denomination into irrelevancy?

On another blog, someone asked the question whether or not we in the PCUSA will get a rest from sexuality for at least the next two years. Some replied no, and in truth, it has started already as seen here; I replied that I felt that those on the side to keep the standard as it currently is would like to take some time discussing other things, such as how to keep this mainline denomination from becoming irrelevant in the next 10 to 15 years.

Someone replied, its already irrelevant.

As I was discussing this with a friend, she said that in making the Message relevant we have compromised the Message. We have no need for a Savior if we don't acknowledge our sin. Instead of adapting the method of delivery, we've modified the Message which we have no right to do.

As I thought more about it, I agree. The message that has survived for 2,000 years, has in the last 100 been made so relevant that it is now unrecognizable in some quarters. No longer are pulpits echoing with the truth that in response for the gift of the atonement we are to agree to try to live our lives like Christ.

Indeed, we have pastors in the mainlines who deny the resurrection, the divinity of Christ, believe Christianity and Islam (or Christianity and Buddism) are so compatible that one could be adherents of both and still be ordained ministers, and so on. We have tried to be so diverse and open to new ways of thinking, that we've lost any Christian (let alone Presbyterian) distinctions.

If all a denomination does is say I'm OK, you're OK, why bother with denominations. Which does give a reason why many non-denominational churches are growing. Not the "feel good" ministries where you don't even see a cross at the front of their mega-auditoriums, but the ones that preach Christ and Him crucified without worries about offending people with talk of sin, atonement and judgement.

I guess you can then ask why am I still in the PCUSA? Well, I've been fortunate to have been a member of PCUSA churches where the Word is rightly preached. Knowing many of those who have or are going to graduate from the better PTS gives me the idea that there is still hope for the PCUSA.

... and so it goes !!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Youth Sunday

Today was Stodgy Presbyterian's annual Youth Sunday. I've attended a few of these, and they can vary from very good, to simply awful. This one wasn't all that bad, and had some areas of humor.

First off the kids had a ball, they enjoyed singing the songs, and doing their parts in the skit. The use of music was good, using some good contemporary praise songs. However, the liturgical dance was uneven, partly due to the choreography not being up to par, and partly due to the background music (with lyrics that would correspond with the dance) was not as loud as it should have been. That last part is due to the antiquated sound system we're stuck with here. I did say we were Stodgy !!

The skit was in place of a sermon, and emphasized that God keeps his promises. In this case, it was God's promise to Noah not to use water to destroy the earth again, sealing this promise with a rainbow. There was humor, but the congregation really enjoyed hearing the pastor's voice as the voice of God. After service, I said to him, no cracks about the 'voice of God' from the pulpit next week.

I enjoyed the service, but I fully expect to hear complaints from the grey-hairs about inappropriateness of this or that. Frankly I don't care, without taking some steps outside the box, a congregation does not grow, whether in numbers or in faith. This congregation is more like Laodicea than Philadelphia, and I pray that it grows hot in the faith and in its outreach.

And so it goes .... !

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work ....

Today is the first day I've felt good enough to go to work in about a week. Needless to say, I would have rather have gone to work the first few days of this week than spend it at home going through the fun chronicled in the previous post.

However, the past week has not been all that bad. I heard from a friend at Plodding Theological Seminary that they were given permission to circulate their PIF, unofficially of course as they have not been officially certified to receive a call, but this is progress.

So, they've been busy all week finishing up the PIF, and getting them in the mail, and researching CIFs. Should be interesting to see what turns up and where.

As for me, I have a weeks worth of Honey Do's that have piled up, the biggest being the lawn. Unfortunately, its been wet most of the week, so the grass has grown. The fortunate thing is the weather reports all talk about sunshine, highs in the 80's, and clear so I'll be able to get the lawn done tomorrow. My only question is that should I let the mulching mower do its thing, or should I bag the first cut.
I've heard both suggestions, I'm leaning to the mulch as it will return the nitrogen to the soil, but with the grass so high, I'm not sure that the mower will chop the blades fine enough.

Decisions, decisions .... maybe I'll just procrastinate until Tuesday. Urp, its going to rain ... oh well.

... and so it goes !!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creeping Crud, or a Mussel Cramp ... ???

This past weekend we went down to visit with friends in 'Nother State Completely. While there, on Friday they took us to have dinner at a restaurant we used to eat at when we were living in that state.

I had the seafood with penne, something I usually had before. This time I was surprised to see mussels in shell, along with the usual shrimp and other seafood. I love mussels, and these looked good; nicely opened after cooking. As you may know, if they don't open, you don't eat them.

Sunday, after 11AM worship, we went to lunch with another set of friends, and readied ourselves for the trip back to Plodding. Well, my stomach felt kind of wonky, so I figured I had better visit the euphemism before the trip. Felt a bit better, so we took off.

As we hit the turnpike, I started to feel all achy and the gut starting doing flips. At the next rest area, I again visited the euphemism and said to SWMBO, you had better drive the rest of the way. I then set the passenger seat back, and moaned all the way back home.

Hit the house, opened the door, ran for the hall euphemism; which was my residence (it seemed) for the next day and a half. On Tuesday, after a day of more of the same; Immodium was not helping, so I made a beeline that morning for the local 'MedExpress'. Its one of those walk-in places, but they are very good for these emergency type of problems, that really aren't the type of emergency the E.R. would need to see.

The doctor wasn't sure if it was a bug, or the mussels, so he wanted to do some tests, and then recommended more Immodium and a yeast tablet to reintroduce good stuff back into my plumbing. I didn't have a fever, so he wasn't sure if it was a virus, or bacteria, and he was hesitant to issue any antibiotics as it would do more harm than good if it wasn't a bacteria. I tended to agree, as I'm not one to take antibiotics for every little fever. So he sent me home, reminding me to drink fluids, take the Immodium, and not to eat mussels. He also said that if I was really feeling weak, come back in and they'd set me up with IV fluids. Oh joy !!

Needless to say, for most of the week I've been pretty worthless. Not really eating much, and when I have, not having much fun afterward. That said, today is not the day to have a problem, as I'm the Alpha Course coordinator, and need to be prepared for a group coming tonight.

So, this morning I fortified myself with Immodium, and went about the business of getting supplies for the course. I would have done this on Monday, but due to other issues (heh) was unable to shop, and BTW also missed the Session meeting scheduled that evening. I was so out-of-it Monday, that I totally repressed any thought of going anywhere, and forgot to call to let them know I was not able to attend.

Now, I'm still not quite sure what is causing the problem, and apparently the problem is still with me, although not as violent as at the beginning of the week.
I'm hoping that the tests will come back with some idea of what it was.

And so it goes .....

(oh my ... )

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Its been a while ....

... since I last posted my thoughts or rants. Perhaps this is a good thing!! Perhaps I've been too busy, or just that I've not felt moved to write anything. So, some rambling, random thoughts.

Lessee ... its Holy Week, there's a Communion Service on Maundy Thursday, and Tenebrae on Good Friday here at Stodgy Presbyterian. One I can attend, the other I have to be at work, which has happened the last three years. I've missed going to a Tenebrae service, as it does have some very meaningful moments when its done correctly.

SWMBO has attended the Tenebrae services here, and she has said that they are very good, so I do regret having to miss them. I would have requested the day off, but there are some required days off coming up that I have to take, so I'll head to work instead.

This year the new C.E. director has actually told people that they are NOT going to call the Easter Egg hunt and brunch on Saturday the 'Bunny Breakfast'. It is going to have an egg hunt, and a bunny will be there, but the focus will be on what we're celebrating the day after. Her response when people protested: "We're a CHURCH, not a social club!" Actually shut a few people up!!

On Easter I'll be handing out the Alpha Course's new booklet from Nicky Gumble, Why Easter along with an Alpha Course FAQ/Signup sheet to visitors at Easter Worship. I've been advertising both our Holy Week services as well as the Alpha Course in the local weeklies these past two weeks.

I'm aiming at those people who may be Christians, but who are not sure, or who have not attended lately. If you look at the ad, it asks two questions that I know many people are asking around this time of the year. Hopefully I'll see a response, but I also suspect that I may have to cancel the course again this time around.

That said, the C.E. ministry has been doing Wednesday night activities for the kids, grammar through high school. They want to do a family dinner, then activities. We have been talking about merging our Alpha dinner with theirs and then having the adults join us for Alpha. I may do the Alpha Express version for them. It gives all the points, but takes less time, which may work for these parents; since many of them don't have the time to attend on Sunday. Perhaps dinner and a video would help them ?

We'll see.

.... and so it goes !!

Have a Holy and Blessed Easter !!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monday Session Meeting

The Session of Stodgy Presbyterian met this Monday evening, and not much really happened besides the usual reports and stuff.

Then I gave my report of the Saturday special called meeting of Presbytery. When I mentioned the vote on 08-B, one of the elders spoke up and asked, What, do they vote on this every year?

I said, not really, its just that a certain faction will not take no for an answer.

And so it goes ....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Plodding Presbytery Votes!

Today was the day of the Special Called Meeting of Presbytery to vote on the Amendments to the Constitution of the PCUSA.

There are a few amendments, as well as some ecumenical statements that were sent down to Presbytery for a vote, but the main reason most people were there were for the Amendment 08-B, to change the paragraph that contains the 'fidelity and chastity' clause that bars non-celibate singles from ordination. The pro side in this change calls the paragraph the one that bars homosexuals from office, the con side calls it the one that bars all those who are not married, or chaste in singleness.

I'll get to that in a bit, but the events leading up to the actual voting on the amendments was interesting. The moderator, in his remarks prior to our worship time, asked that no matter our opinions, that there would be no applause or groans during the discussion time, or when the results were announced.

The moderator then noted that since the original printing of the docket, there was some interest in adding a time of listening to the original docket, and asked for a vote approving this change. It was disapproved by voice vote, which took a few people by surprise, as someone then rose to ask for recognition.

It evidently was the person who was going to talk in favor of the amendment during that time of listening, as the commissioner moved that a time be set aside before the vote to hear a 7 minute talk from both sides on the amendment. When asked by the moderator who was going to speak, the commissioner replied that she would speak for, and someone else would speak against. Again, to this commissioner it sounded like the commissioner was trying to get the listening time added in through a back door. It was also loudly defeated.

So onto the voting. An omnibus motion to consider and pass all the amendments and evangelical statements in the affirmative was moved and seconded. During discussion 08-B was pulled from that motion, as was expected. But in addition, a few others were also pulled.

The omnibus motion then was passed, and we moved to 08-B. The moderator, in a move to allow more speakers, made a motion to change the amount of time each speaker could speak from 3 minutes to 2. This was approved on a majority voice vote.

We then moved to the discussion time. There were a good set of speakers both for and against. One person for talked about his son and his partner who, in his opinion, were unable to participate in the life of the church, this commissioner obviously was passionate about voting for the amendment. Then there was the elder speaking against the motion, who talked about his son, who died of AIDS, and who was not reconciled with the church. When he talked I heard the love and sadness in his voice as he talked about when he passes on to his heavenly reward, how he will again see his wife, other children, but will miss this one son because he won't be there. There were a few gasps in the room when he said this, which surprised me as that issue goes straight to the heart of the Reformed faith, we are all depraved, and are all sinful, but God gives us the grace to recognize this, and accept that He has chosen us, and as part of being chosen we are required by God to repent our sins, and "sin no more".

As I mentioned, there were a few people on line; some in the pews took offense when Dr. Gagnon went over his time by a few sentences trying to finish his point. Indeed, I've heard that trying to get him to stop once he gets going is a hard thing to do. But others on the pro side ran over too, although, I have to admit, not as long as he did ;)

The 20 minutes set aside for pro and con discussions soon ran out, and the moderator then asked for a motion to set aside another 20 minutes for more discussion. He seemed to have been taken aback at the loud no vote that this got, so the discussion ended at that point.

The time came to vote, and it appeared that a voice vote was not even considered, as the moderator called for the ballots to be handed out. A very simple ballot, which basically asked should paragraph G6-xxxxx be amended as laid out in amendment 08-B? Once the ballots were taken up, we moved on to the other amendments and statements for a vote.

One by one the amendments were brought up and passed. There were a few I voted no on, one of which was the change to the Ordination Exam requirements. It is being changed to let the CPM decide whether or not the inquirer or candidate meets the academics required to pass the Ordination Exams. I voted no because I feel that since the Exegesis exam was changed so as not to require a proficiency in Greek or Hebrew, since passing both is a requirement and the Seminary has already judged the student proficient in those languages; the Seminary could also judge whether or not the student was ready to take the Ords, whereas the CPM, being detached from that process, would rely on grades from the Seminary. So why add another hurdle?

A recently ordained minister I know told me he voted against that because he was worried that the amendment change would allow the CPM to require a inquirer's or candidate's attendence at a PCUSA affiliated seminary, a few of which he would not recommend at all. I thought about that, and also agreed with his analysis.

All in all, the amendments to this point had passed, and we moved on to the ecumenical statements. The first on the recognition of the Roman Catholic Baptism as being valid, just affirms in writing what is currently being done today. No one rose to speak for or against this statement. However, there were a few no votes heard during this vote.

The next statement with the Episcopal Church brought out some comments. One of the professors at the local seminary pointed out the turmoil currently brewing in the Episcopal Church USA, and said while he had no problem with the theological statements in this Ecumenical Statement, he did have a problem with the part about recognizing ministers, since the PCUSA would be buying into one of the same problems we were voting on in an amendment today (referring to the elephant in the room).

This voice vote was so close, we had to do a standing vote. The result was that this statement passed, but on a vote of 140 for to 135 against. I voted against, because of that very problem. One other that was mentioned to me was that another section appeared to recognize that bishops and the presbyteries were somewhat alike. Shades of papism !! ;)

The final two ecumenical statements with the Korean Presbyterian Church USA, and the Moravian Church passed on unanimous voice votes.

We finally came to the results of the 08-B vote, the moderator asked if the votes count was completed, the clerk replied it was, and the moderator then asked the associate pastor to the presbytery for prayer. He then read the results: 105 for, 206 against with 1 abstention, the Amendment was not agreed to. Despite the request that there be no audible groans or applause, a few groans were heard, but quickly stifled.

The proceeding were then concluded with the report of the membership clerk that there were 312 commissioners in attendence, with a majority of elders present, and with 90 churches (out of about 150) sending at least 1 elder. I wonder what the 60 churches who didn't send anyone, even on a Saturday, were thinking. Perhaps they already left the denomination "in place", had no clue, didn't care one way or the other, or were just tired of the whole mess.

That said, it appears that Stodgy Presbyterian seems to have been forgotten at Presbytery, even though I've attended 3 out of the 4 Presbytery meetings held prior to this one as commissioner from SPC. When I went to be verified as an elder commissioner for SPC, the staffer who had the list of churches showing how many elders they could have in attendance, didn't even have SPC on the list. I guess they're only worried about us if we don't get per capita in on time.

And so it goes ....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Time of discernment ...

No, I'm not trying to discern what to do about Amendment B. I'm solid on that, sin is sin. I need say no more on that ...

No, my time of discernment is being used to decide what, if anything, I can do as Elder for Evangelism, and chair of the Nominating Committee. I've been getting ready for an Alpha Course after Easter, getting advertising setup for our Easter services, leading a Lenten Bible study, and trying to figure how to energize members to volunteer as Elders and Deacons.

If you've been following this blog, and I commend you on your pain threshold if you have, you'll note my frustrations at trying to teach a bunch of country club Presbyterians about becoming disciples who understand that church is not just something you do for an hour on Sunday.

And so, I pray .. for myself (Lord knows I need it), and for the church, and for guidance.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Time for Renewal.

As I go along, reading Mac's Around The Scuttlebutt, I'm realizing how much has changed from the beginnings of Presbyterianism in the US, to today.

Is it due to the changing society we live in, or the overall lack of Biblical and Constitutional knowledge in many of the members we ordain to be Elders or Deacons. I keep wondering what I can do to correct this at my church, and I realize that all I can do is point the way, I cannot make people follow. I can try to nominate Elders who are more than just bodies to fill a slot, however, we've been trying to find people to fill slots on the Board of Deacons and all we've received are I'll pray about it, then a not this year in reply.

Then I read about other elders listening to their conceptions of what Jesus would do or say, instead of reading the Scripture that tells them what Jesus would do or say, and voting for the Amendment B changes to the Book of Order.

Is faithfulness to Scripture no longer relevant; understanding the depravity of man and what is described in Scripture and the Confessions as sin, relics of the past or of what is called by some fundamentalist tripe.

I need some time for renewal, time for study and self-inspection, time to understand my own frailties and failures, and some time in prayer to ask for the Spirit to guide me in this renewal.

And so it goes ....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Discouraged and Depressed

As the Evangelism Elder for Stodgy Presbyterian, I have the mandate to reach out to the community and invite them to learn about Christ. I also have the responsibility to help renew the congregation.

In previous posts I've related that I've offered the Alpha Course to the public at large as well as the congregation. This Lenten season, I'm sponsoring a Lenten study, Jesus' Greatest Moments, the week that changed everything, using the Small Group text written by Mark Ashton.

Its been advertised in the church's February bulletin, the Sunday announcements, on our website. As of today, I have two sign-ups, out of a congregation of (on the books at least) 275. For the Alpha Course, I also had two signups, but wound up with three at the opening session.

Talk about discouraging!!

I'm getting ready to create newspaper ads for our Easter service, I'm looking at two different ads for two different papers. One, which is distributed free to everyone in the area, I'm thinking of pushing the Alpha Course, with a mention of our Easter service. In the other paper, which is one that charges a nominal sum for pickup at a 7-11 or through mail subscription, I'm thinking of pushing the Easter services, with a mention of the Alpha Course.

As you can tell, I'm trying to target the local population in ways that will catch their attention. I just wish I could reinvigorate the congregation to think about renewing their belief!!

I'm happy to say that our Pastor is trying to help, he preached a great evangelism sermon last Sunday, I just hope people were listening. This coming week, I'm going to be the Liturgist for our Worship service. The guest preacher will be using the Old Testament to preach on, so the first reading will be from the New Testament. The reading will be from Revelation 3:14-22, the verses that talk about the church of Laodicea that is neither cold nor hot.

Talk about the perfect reading for SPC !! That I'm the one reading it makes it even better (IMHO). I pray that the congregation will be open to the words of Revelation. I'm not sure if I should emphasize the text by opening with something like:

Let us pray. Lord open our minds to the Spirit that we may understand the meaning of your Holy Scripture.

Too preachy, or pointed? I'm not sure if they'll even notice.

And so it goes ....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Plodding Presbytery Meeting

This month's presbytery meeting was relatively painless. Not much controversial was mentioned or voted on.

Our worship time was very upbeat, celebrating Black History month. The sermon was preached by an African-American Pastor from New Jersey. He had a great set of points and had plenty of heads nodding, until close to the end of his sermon when he lumped Rev. Wright in with Rev. King; I heard a few audible "Uh oh"s at that statement. Aside from that, it was a great sermon.

The elephant in the room along with other constitutional amendments will be voted on next month in a special, called meeting of Presbytery being held on a Saturday, very unusual since most are held on Thursdays during the day here. Evidently it was done so that all congregations in the Presbytery can have representatives at the meeting. Considering my previous post, I suspect that at least one affinity group will be having a influence the get out the vote campaign prior to that vote.

The usual omnibus motions were made and passed. The one controversy was over a motion for elder equalization made by the stated clerk. There are a lot of ministers in Plodding Presbytery, and the number of accredited minister presbyters exceeded the number of normally allocated elders by 61. The way the clerk wanted to make up this shortfall in elders was to authorized those elders who are working on the presbytery committees as voting elder presbyters.

One elder commissioner to presbytery thought that this put too much power in those who have the time and inclination to volunteer for presbytery commissions. He would have had the clerk make up the 61 elders from across the Presbytery, by adding one elder to those authorized from the churches.

Looking at the list of elders on the presbytery commissions, it does appear that there are a number of elders from liberal leaning churches on this list. We shall see what happens next month.

The best part of this meeting was the Oral Examination of a candidate for ordination. Her statement of faith was something that most center-right members of the PCUSA would not have a problem with. However, there were some other members who were scowling at the use of non-inclusive language when referring to the members of the Trinity.

That said, I did not hear any no votes when it came time to approve her for ordination, of course, it could mean that those who were scowling, did not vote.

The meeting adjourned not long after.

And so it goes ...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Politics and Presbytery

As a few members of the PC(USA) know, the past General Assembly (GA) passed some amendments to The Constitution of the PC(USA) and sent them to the Presbyteries for ratification. Most of these concerned the Book of Order (BoO), and were somewhat minor.

However there is a major amendment that addresses the usual Elephant in the Room. Now I fully expected for the usual groups, both pro and con, to put forward their advice and reasons for voting pro or con.

This is not unusual, and could be classified under providing information. However, I have heard that one group is not only providing information, but also requesting a pledge of support and vote at the Presbytery meeting.

You read right, a group is actively canvassing and requesting that the person being canvassed, pledge that they will vote in the direction the group is pointing.

IMHO, this totally violates the Book of Order:
G-4.0301d. Presbyters are not simply to reflect the will of the people, but rather to seek together to find and represent the will of Christ;


From the Annotated Book of Order, there's this bit of info under that paragraph:
Earlier Ref: (UPCUSA 1978, 93, Buchwalter v. Pittsburgh Pby): Questioning by pby of potential commissioners to GA is allowed, but voting pledges are not allowed.


Lobbying for a vote at Presbytery would (I would assume) under that same ruling. Unless a GA overturned the previous ruling without anyone's knowledge, which I doubt.

I don't care whether this group is pro or con, but this violation of polity should not go unpunished.

UPDATE - 02/08/09 - I was talking to the Pastor at Stodgy Presbyterian today, and he said that he was also contacted. What really offended him was the fact that the group was asking how he was going to vote and asking for his support, and that they were making calls like telemarketers, calling during the usual dinner time of between 5 and 7pm. Indeed, he was called from his dinner table to answer the phone and basically told the caller that the call was inappropriate, and he refused to talk with the person any further and hung up.

Postscript on Super Bowl Mania

I've heard that at one church here in Plodding Presbytery, their worship is close to Scottish Kirk liturgy, where the Bible is brought into the sanctuary and placed on the pulpit/lectern.

This past Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday), the music played during the procession was the Steeler Waltz !!!

Needless to say, that is a very secular intrusion into what is part of Worship. John Knox would be outraged!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Mania

This weekend is the Super Bowl, its also the Souper Bowl youth collection here at Stodgy Presbyterian.

Unfortunately, the local team, the Stillers (Steelers for those outside of Western PA) are in the Super Bowl. I fully expect to see a bunch of black and gold jerseys, coats, and so on at Worship on Sunday.

Even the Pastor will be wearing a jersey, although he'll have it under his robes. I, myself have no dog in this hunt, and so declared myself an agnostic. That said, I really don't care for people wearing team jerseys and such at church. Not that I would rather see everyone in suits and dresses either. I'm a business casual guy myself, but I'd do believe that we are in the world, not of the world, and this is bringing too much of the world into worship.

I was talking to the Pastor this morning, and he told me that in 2005, one of the congregation got up during the 'Joys and Concerns' time, and lead a cheer for the home team.

I'm thinking of going somewhere else for worship this Sunday, perhaps a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, or a local R.C. church ??

Then again, the last time they were in the Super Bowl, someone said this happened.

And so it goes .....

UPDATE: It wasn't all that bad. Oh there were Steeler's jerseys galore (about 1/3 of the congregation), the rest wearing black and gold. (I wore a very neutral beige sweater with khaki pants).

During announcements, joys and concerns, there was only one person who got up and yelled 'Go Steelers!!'. No prayers for victory, or anything like that. Then the pastor, in his sermon, brought the congregation to task, albeit very subtlely. Using the passage Mark 1:21-28, he talked about strange things that happened at the synagogue in Capernaum. He injected thoughts about what would we do if Jesus showed up for our Steeler's party. Looking at the expensive jerseys and all, what would we say if He asked about what we've done for the 'least of these'.

Needless to say, there was some uncomfortable squirmings in seats. It was a good sermon.

Of course, after the benediction at the front doors of the church, the pastor opened his robes ... showing his Steeler jersey. Of course, he won that ... didn't spend a dime on it ;)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Annual Congregational Meeting

As I mentioned yesterday, we had our Annual Congregational Meeting last Sunday. As happens at many churches, once the benediction is given, everyone leaves excepting for the few who really care about what goes on in the church ... and the gadflies who are always complaining about something that changed.

Well luckily we didn't have any gadflies this year, not sure if its was because they didn't show up, or they joined the Church Everlasting, but it was very quiet at the meeting this year ... too quiet.

The pastor led off with prayer, then went into the agenda. The first item on the agenda, was promptly taken care of, as we didn't have to vote for a nominating committee, as we did that in May. That was one of the things I pushed, so that the committee would have more time to work for nominees. (BTW .. how's that working for you RC ??)

The next item was to request nominees for the audit committee. Evidently, the same two brothers (CPAs both) do the audits every year. The committee requires three, so we had two volunteers already, but trying to get the third one was like trying to pull a tooth from a chicken, there weren't any. Even after the pastor said that there was nothing for the third person to do but review the final report, no hands. Finally, one of the current elder's spouses put his hand up.

Then it was time to close nominations, the Pastor asked for a motion. Again, no movement from the 70 people present. I raised my hand, the second was asked, zip, nada. I leaned over to Bob, just down the pew "well ?", he raised his hand. OK .. Moved, Seconded and Passed (MSP).

Next was the request to close the meeting of the congregation and open the meeting of the church corporation. "Need a motion ...", leaned over again to Bob, "Your turn ..". He raised his hand. "Second ??", I raised mine.

And so it went for most of the meeting, the RC and Bob show, except when it came to close the meeting of the corporation, and move back into the meeting of the congregation. Then after the review of the minutes by the Clerk, came the motion to accept the reading. Again, RC & Bob.

Came to the closing prayer, and request for a motion to adjourn. No hesitation at all there, MSP .. wam ... bam ... boom.

Now besides from the lack of participation, and the fact that not enough End of Year report packets were printed up ("we always throw them away afterwards ..."), not one mention was made of the terms of the Call!! They were changed, and not a peep about them was mentioned in the meeting.

Sure the BOO G-7.0302a says "It (the congregation) shall review the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor or pastors upon report of the prior review by the session." And sure the preface to the constitution says "(1) "Shall" and "is to be/are to be" signify practice that is mandated".

Of course, following the BOO has never been a major thing here, except when it works for what they want it to do. According to the Pastor, they have never brought the Call up at these meetings as long as he has been there ... over 20 years !!

Have I said in previous posts that the Pastor has been burnt before by thse congregants, and has been worn down to the point he really is burnt out!

And so it goes ....

Been Busy

I've been fairly faithful lately, writing a post about three or four times a week. However, I've been away for over seven days. Not for a lack of things to blog about, but just plain work, and I'm tuckered out.

I work an evening shift, and when I get home it usually takes a few hours for me to unwind, and get sleepy enough for bed. Occasionally, I'll just sit, then wake up about four AM, wondering what happened to that cop that was getting chased on TV. Last night, I hit the sack around one AM, and slept through to eleven !!

I've not even had enough time to clear the driveway of the snow that has accumulated over the past several days; and tonight we're supposedly getting more snow/sleet/rain that will probably ice over later tomorrow. Happy Happy Joy Joy !!

So tomorrow my main task will be to clear the driveway, as its my day off. Then, if there's still time, I'll get myself a haircut, and replace some parts on my car. At least that should be easy to do, they just snap on and off. Of course, that's the kiss of death, 'its easy to do' ... yeah right.

After all that, I'll sit down and write a post about the Annual Congregational Meeting at Stodgy Presbyterian. Or as we joked about it, the RC and Bob show.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Deacons - M.I.A.

It seems my ramblings have been the catalyst for the thoughts of a few of my readers. They, in turn, have given me some interesting ideas for use at SPC. I hope that this continues in future posts of mine, and the comments that those posts may generate.

Now, tonight was our monthly Session meeting, I've been asking questions about what our Deacons are supposed to do, and tonight I asked who takes care of the coffee hour. Turns out that the pastor does make the coffee, however, I also found out that its has not always been the case. It seems that it started when some of the Deacons a few years ago found out that the Pastor got to church early, so early that he could start the coffee pot (the usual 40 or 50 cup percolator) so that the coffee will be ready for the 'fellowship time'. Of course, there is no real fellowship time, nor is there any hospitality either.

Now that the Deacons don't have to worry about the coffee, all they need to do is pick up the donuts, put them out on a tray, and leave. There's a 'tip jar' that says all donations go to the Deacons Fund to help pay for the donuts. No staff, nobody to help the visitor, and so on. Now, the kids get to get a donut prior to Sunday School and, I have to say, I'm fond of the cinnamon buns they get. However, nobody's there during Sunday School (except a few parents waiting for the kids to get out of Sunday School so they can leave), no one there during Worship to direct people if needed, and no one there after worship, since most people leave to head home, lunch, or watch the local team play football.

While driving our Worship Elder home, she related something to me that didn't shock me, but did confirm what I already figured about our Board of Deacons. That Session is not exercising its oversight responsibility, and the Deacons really don't do all that much. The Worship Elder was telling me about the Christmas flowers that were supposed to be delivered to our shut-ins. Evidently there were 10 poinsettas that were available for use. The Elder personally took one to a shut-in, however, the rest of the flowers are still sitting at church. Obviously, they are not fit for any delivery, so they will become compost.

That said, there appeared in the monthly newsletter a self-congratulatory note on the Deacon's Page thanking those deacons who made deliveries. This is not sitting well with the Elder, as she's going to be looking for Deacons to serve Communion during Holy Week. I wasn't sure if it was on Holy Thursday, or Easter Sunday, but she's got her doubts that she'll get the number of Deacons necessary.

Something else came up, evidently the Deacon Moderator tried to get out of all flower delivery, by asking the Elder, "Isn't it your job on the Worship Commission to deliver the flowers?", evidently with 11 Deacons, they don't have enough people. And I'm still trying to figure out exactly what their duties are.

And so it goes ...

Aside to Mac: anxiously awaiting your next post over at the 'Scuttlebutt'.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We don't do that here ....

Ever hear that from people in your new church? I heard that when I joined Stodgy Presbyterian a few years ago. For that pick anything that you've seen done at previous churches.

I've already mentioned a few things in previous posts, and since I've not had a chance to think about a full topic for my next post, I'll just stream of consciousness about what I've been told we don't do.

We don't do liturgists! When asked why, I'm told that well, we had them before, but people stopped doing it. Looking deeper into why they stopped doing it, turns out that the person who did the scheduling either rolled off Session, or just quit doing it. In either case, no one took over the scheduling, nor the advertising for volunteers. Of course, this leaves the pastor having to do everything during the Worship.

However, this is going to change, as the new CE director wondered the same thing. She brought it up at a staff meeting, the pastor had no objections, so today there was a blurb in the bulletin requesting volunteers for liturgists. So, in the next few weeks, I may be opening service with a Call to Worship.

We don't do Monthly Communion! We've never done it that way before!! In fact, the history of this place shows that at one time they did do monthly communion, but for some reason (probably too much trouble setting it up), they reduced the number of times they do communion to once a quarter, Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Christmas Eve, and so on.

When asked about how the General Assembly a few years ago encouraged increased celebration of the Eucharist, I'm told, yeah but .... (and then the person trails off) so it does seem that it was too much trouble.

Too much trouble ... the same reason I get for why we don't have people in the congregation serve as ushers instead of just Deacons and Elders ... the same reason we don't do Wednesday night fellowship or worship (too much trouble to attend) ... the same reason they won't come to an Alpha Course ... or Lenten Bible Study ... or any home bible study ...

And they wonder why the church is dying ... literally ... we lost two this week to the Church Everlasting. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples ... Jn13:35a . Unfortunately, disciples are not what we have at SPC, just members in another country club .

And so it goes ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Deacons don't do that ...

About four years ago, in a church I'll call, Old But Growing Presbyterian (OBGPC), I was on the Board of Deacons; first year as a Deacon then for the last two as Moderator.

At OBGPC, the Deacons were responsible for Congregational Care. We contacted each member at least quarterly, had a meals ministry delivering hot dinners for those who were going through sickness, a birth or a death in the family, and so on. We staffed, setup and provided donuts and coffee during the Coffee Hour Fellowship Time. We assisted at any church function by cooking, setup, and so on. We had twelve dedicated Deacons on the board.

We also started planting the seeds for a Stephen Ministry, which eventually was started when OBGPC called an Assistant Pastor who's passion was for Congregational Care. The Deacons rallied around that push, and it is now in full function, along with many other programs that provide congregational care. The Board still has a membership of twelve, but there are many volunteers, and the Deacons oversee the activities involving a congregation of around 600. The Deacon's Fund consists of donations from the congregation, which is passively asked for donations through the inclusion of a Deacon's Fund envelope the first Sunday of each month.

I'm presupposing that many of those who read this blog have Deacon Boards that act much like my old church's.

Then there's Stodgy Presbyterian. The Board consists of fifteen Deacons for a congregation of about 250. As Deacons you would think that their charter would cover congregational care, as I was told "Deacons don't do that ....

As a member of Session, we've not had an annual meeting between the Session and the Deacons (see the comment to me above). I have not seen any directive from Session to the Deacons that lay out their duties.

Here, as far as I can tell, are their responsibilities. Hold fundraisers to help build up the Deacons Fund, delivery of the sanctuary flowers once a week to a shut-in member, assigning at least one Deacon to each and every commission, bringing donuts on Sunday and then leaving, taking the tape of the Worship service and then making 3 copies on our duplicator and placing each in an envelope for mailing, having Deacons as greeters and ushers, and making sure at least one deacon is available to assist in counting the Sunday offerings.

They say they're overworked. They lost three Deacons when an entire family of mother and two daughters moved to a new church. They were all in one class*. So, we now have 11 deacons to serve, as one resigned due to age related illnesses.

I mentioned, why do we need to have a Deacon on every commission, not doing that would allow them to do other duties. I was told "for communication", which made me then remark, "who do they communicate to besides the Board of Deacons if they're not contacting everyone?", I didn't get an answer to that, as the person I said it to was nonplussed. I don't think she had given it any thought. FWIW ... I'm assuming the only communication that occurs is from the grapevine, which every church has, and usually gets some detail wrong.

You would think that the Deacons, who should be the first persons to present a welcoming face to any visitors, would staff the Coffee Hour and make sure that visitors know their way around. "Deacons don't .... "

You would think that they would be the face of Congregational Care, contacting the members, and asking about them, how they are doing, and letting them know that "we haven't seen you in a few weeks, is everything alright?? " Again, "Deacons don't ..."

When I asked about this during the Session meeting on the Pastor's Call and budget, all I heard was that it was the Pastor's job, and "Deacons don't ...". One husband and wife team*, told me that they have never had a church that did that. Of course, they had been at Stodgy Presbyterian for about 15 years, and I'm not sure if they were Presbyterians before that. Which brings up a question, am I wrong to assume that most Deacon Boards are like OBGPC or are they more like SPC's ?

And so it goes ...

*yeah, I know .. not a good idea ... not my choice