(c) Can Stock Photo / HPW We sat around the table one night, the appointed leaders of the congregation that I served at the time, considering our future. Attendance had dropped from its high point in the 1950’s and while the rate of decline had flattened, we were faced with a church that was rapidly … Continue reading Do we really care about the future?
My friend Wes Magruder, pastor of the Kessler Park UMC in Dallas, shared some thoughts this week about how progressive United Methodist congregations might move forward in relation to the "Way Forward" decisions in the UMC. His thoughts were generally positive and worthy of thinking about, but one phrase in the post jumped out at … Continue reading The Case for Connectionalism
On April 4, 1968, I was probably watching The Flying Nun when the newscaster interrupted and told of Dr. King's death. I was alone in our apartment as my mom had run downstairs to visit with a friend, and I remember the sense of fear and foreboding that came with that frantic announcement. That night, … Continue reading Fifty Years Later
God of all people, male and female, old and young, from all nations, races, and backgrounds, we come to you as a city that is broken. Trust has been eroded; lives have been disrupted; and we find ourselves wondering where we go from here. We ask that today represents a new day, a new season … Continue reading A Prayer for Nashville
The city of Nashville has a long legacy of city leaders gathering in back rooms to determine the future of their neighbors. From the Watauga Club downtown to the West Nashville Mafia gathered in a booth at Wendell Smiths to the sheriff and his friends talking in the lounge of an East Nashville funeral home, … Continue reading The Room Where It Happens
I would see her walking down the street, using a red wheelchair as a walker . . . a pushcart filled with everything she owned. I would learn her name was Janice, and she'd been on the streets for a while. She was an elderly African American woman, who was full of herself. One day … Continue reading Dying in the streets….
Jerrell "Jerry" Voorhees passed on March 1, 2017 from complications of Alzheimer's/Dementia. For many years Jerry was a fixture in the D.C. jazz scene, both listening and playing his beloved vibraphones with the Annapolis Jazz Trio. Jerry also spent a season in Nashville, playing regularly at the Sunday jams at Windows on the Cumberland, and performing … Continue reading A Celebration of the Life of Jerry Voorhees
Dear President Elect Trump, The day has finally come and in just a few hours you will be standing on the steps of the Capitol, making your pledge to defend the Constitution of the United States. At that moment, a transition happens – from one president to another, from one vision of the nation to … Continue reading An Open Letter to Donald Trump
Back in May of 2013, I jumped into a partnership with a couple of good friends to take on the task of continuing hundreds of years of tradition through The United Methodist Reporter. At the time we hoped that we could develop a business model that would allow for the addition of some part-time staff, … Continue reading The end of a season…
God of the ages, I don't want to pray this prayer tonight. It's not that I don't want to be with you. I need to hear your voice. I need your comfort. I need to ask "Why?" And I have no problem praying for the wounded, the grieving, and all of us who have been … Continue reading The prayer I don’t want to offer…
Everyday as I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed I see all sorts of shared posts about "The 10 Things The Church Needs to do to Survive" or "8 Ways That the Church is Missing the Mark" or countless other stories in the same ilk. I'm not surprised, and in fact I've been as guilty as anyone … Continue reading It’s Time to Quit Talking About the Church
Father Abraham had many sons Had many sons had Father Abraham I am one of them And so are you So let's just praise the Lord Abraham, the father of three of the major streams of faith in the world, is known in scholarly circles as a patriarch. He was, as the dictionary defines that … Continue reading A Eulogy for Daddy Joe
I think most folks that follow me in any way know that this past July I assumed a new appointment as the lead pastor of a medium size church here in Nashville. In the course of orienting myself to the congregation (as well as letting folks get to know be better) I held 8 meetings … Continue reading And now for a quick announcement….
Last night, as is my usual practice, I headed over to the local "8:05 Group" of Alcoholic Anonymous for my weekly does of 12 Step education. For the record, just in case anyone is wondering, I don't have the disease of alcoholism. I understand that God has allowed me the ability to have a beer … Continue reading The AA Model of Church
I confess that one of the things that has always eluded me is how Mother's Day has become one of the high holy days in the life of the American church. Don't get me wrong . . . I like mothers as much as the next guy. For sure, this year's Mother's Day was a … Continue reading Who are the real mothers?
I think most of the world has seen my Facebook post from yesterday in which I announced that I am being appointed to serve as the Sr. Pastor of the City Road Chapel United Methodist Church in Madison, TN. In that statement, I acknowledged that I had thought at the beginning of the week that … Continue reading A United Methodist pastor’s perspective on a pastoral transition
Last week, my 14 year old and I headed over on Friday night to the local movie mall to catch the opening of Divergent (which, as fans of the books, we enjoyed). In the plethora of previews shown before that movie, we were surprised and excited to catch our first glimpse of Noah. It was clear from … Continue reading A Pastor reviews “Noah”
Not long ago I sat in a worship service listening to another pastor exhort his congregation to service and carrying out the radical call of Christ to love our neighbors. I was sitting there silently cheering him on when all of the sudden he made the following comment: Now before anyone panics, understand that I'm … Continue reading The cross is a liability issue
As most of my Facebook friends know by now, I'm currently in Los Angeles having helped my eldest drive from Nashville to establish a new home. Needing to recover from the drive and needing some time off, I chose to stay over a few extra days to enjoy the sunshine, connect with some old friends, … Continue reading Looking in from the outside — a pastor visits another church
This past week the frailty and humanity of this thing we call the United Methodist Church was put on full display in the media throughout the world. The story was the church's trial of a clergyperson who had disobeyed the official teaching of the church in presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son and his partner. The story was full of things designed to encourage attention in the media -- conflict, sex, religion, family, and legal drama. And the verdict came down quickly -- guilty -- with the strong possibility that this pastor will be removed from ministry.
For some, the trial, verdict, and penalty reaffirmed that the order of the church was firm and in control, and that the traditions held closely to the heart were protected. For others the same things confirmed what they already thought -- that the followers of Jesus aren't really serious about this love thing, and that we are more in love with our rules than with the lives of our neighbors...