J1PSR7BF26Last week it was made public that I have accepted a new professional role. Come January I will depart as Associate Pastor for First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, United Church of Christ, in order to become Associate Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ in Northern California/Nevada. I’m excited by this transition, if not a bit sad at leaving a church filled with people I love and a vibrant ministry that is life-giving and life-transforming. One of the major changes in my life that will come with this new role is a greater familiarity with the freeways, highways, and roadways of California and Nevada — and, by extension, the great and beautiful geography that our territory includes.

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IMG_8098Nathan Kirkpatrick’s blog posting at Faith & Leadership a few weeks ago really struck a chord with me. My morning devotional included one of my favorite passages of scripture from Hebrews 12:

So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.

I’m pondering on these things and how they intersect as I sit in my office-study on this Wednesday. Particularly my first set of robes and stoles.

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RO6SYEWM4SWant to join in bellyaching with mainline Protestant clergy? Complain about the state of your church building. A strange, bizarre kind of competition exists among many in this group of people about how much deferred maintenance one building can suffer before the roof caves in. Of course, some of that competition is redirected survivalism — for many of our churches, the building maintenance budget is also the same budget that pays minor details like the pastor’s salary, Sunday School curriculum, or provides emergency cash for persons in need. I’m sympathetic to the challenge, and there are myriad examples of churches that have ditched the building in favor of a new model of ministry. But what if the building isn’t what is holding the church back from where the Spirit is calling it?

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8RFL5JQLS8With all of the attention surrounding the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk’s refusal to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision — and her subsequent jailing in contempt of the order of a federal judge — it’s hard to not make comments that are self-aggrandizing at best, and deeply arrogant at worst, in response. That’s why I appreciated so much Libby Anne’s post yesterday challenging us all to measure our response to Ms. Davis.

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11402289_10153457791504974_6595951401696286752_oThis weekend is the Annual Gathering of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. For 150 years, give or take, Christians in our tribe (and our tribal ancestors) have been gathering together as witness to our Conference covenant of mutual mission, support, and accountability in this particular geography. For most of the last 16 months, I have served as Moderator of the Conference — the primary officer, convener, and facilitator for our form of governance and order.

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PNF27F144FLast week my car was in the shop for service. (Which is the subject for a whole different post at some point.) Given the particular geography in which I live, and the taxi economics thereof, it means I get a lot of practice in both my public transit and walking skills than usual.

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Sometimes in life are these moments, honest and authentic moments when we are floored by our own thoughts or observations. Call them “a-ha!” moments, “duh!” moments, or sometimes moments you don’t want to admit publicly — but they are momentary opportunities for reawakening and renewal. At least, they can be and should be.

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54JXBQY3REI’m sitting in Chicago-O’Hare waiting for a flight back to San Francisco as I write this, looking out the window at aircraft movements on the field. The first time I took a flight was on a family vacation to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2001 (mere weeks before 9/11).

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Justice-Service (Bonus)

10533292_667289306679564_524843005_nSo, you’re setting out as a chaperone or adult leader on a youth service trip. God bless you, literally. Chances are you’re not staying at the Hilton (and if you are, don’t tell my chaperones or they’ll expect the same!), but you can almost make a church floor as comfortable an experience as one. As a bonus to the series on service trips, here’s my chaperone survival guide.Continue Reading

Justice-Service (Part 5)

10517991_307431842758298_848569031_nSometimes there are just those things that bomb. Sometimes they’re small mishaps, other times they’re a bit more, shall we say, dramatic. (Luckily we haven’t had many of those!) In exploring our structure and what has worked well about our service trip program, here are the bottom three things that we’ve ditched in our experience:Continue Reading