My Current “Paying” Ministry

I am a lucky duck. I love my job/ministry. Here’s what I am busy with these days. And It is why I have been neglecting my newly formed blog, among other things.

First, I am my congregation’s “media queen.” Depending on the month, I coordinate contributions to and publish, usually both in print and e-media, utilizing an incredible array of different kinds of software:

  • A 10 to 12 page newsletter once a month
  • A weekly email blast describing what’s happening in my church to not quite 200 subscribers
  • Occasional special email reminders, messages and greetings
  • 4 or 5 worship bulletins with announcements
  • Church signs, the marquee one out front as well as the posters we put in our entryways and other places in our building
  • Posts on our congregation’s FB, Youtube channel, Twitter, etc. pages
  • Press releases!

Second, I am my congregation’s “calendar queen.”  I manage the church calendar, for our internal church groups and folks as well as many community organizations:

  • The high school across the street uses our facilities for testing and some other events
  • Our local VA holds their “Stand Down” event at our church once a year
  • A suicide prevention group currently meets in our facility
  • A trans youth support group meets in our facility
  • Two different groups of local artists meet in our facility
  • Grand Junction’s oldest running AA group meets in our facility …
  • ,,, and I could go on and on! Our congregation believes in and celebrates the ministry of offering space to all kinds of community organizations who purpose and mission are resonant with that of our church’s.

Third, I manage a “harem” [not sure they would like being called that?] of office volunteers, the Office Angels, who do so many of the simple, yet so very important tasks that make our church work, everything from entering attendance to folding bulletins. They are also the very friendly face that greets everyone who comes into our church while I am hidden behind my computer being the media and calendar queen.  My job is to help them feel fulfilled in the ministry they do. I am humbled by their faithfulness.

Fourth, “other duties as needed:”

  • I help manage our church data base
  • I am a clearing house incarnate of useful information
  • I watch over our office supply inventory and office equipment –they actually gave me a budget and a church charge card, Nyah! Ha ha ha haaaaaa ….

My desire is to be the oil on the wheels of our church’s ministry.

And that’s just my 25 hour a week paid job. 😉

I volunteer as a church musician, sing in choir weekly and serve as an occasional handbell sub and, hopefully over the summer, a soloist.  I am a “stand by” liturgist.

I am not bored.  It’s a good and blessed thing!

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Rainbow Flag Nazis: Just Stop It!

Stealing or Vandalizing a Church’s Rainbow Flag is Un-Christian and Un-American

My church is an Open and Affirming congregation affiliated with The United Church of Christ. We not only welcome the presence, ministries and gifts of God’s LGBTQ children, we celebrate them.

We do that because we’re the “God is still speaking” and the “never put a period where God has put a comma” church in town.  Maybe you remember seeing one of our commercials?

We are a church where you do NOT have to check your brain, your questions, your doubts and fears, or your knowledge of science or other academic disciplines at the door.

We’re a church whose people want to be like Jesus, and when Jesus and the Bible disagree, we follow Jesus.

So we proudly display a rainbow flag on an exterior wall of our building, to let God’s LGBTQ children know that not only we, but also that God, believes in them and their giftedness for serving God.

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At least we do until someone vandalizes our flag, which happened last year. Or until someone steals our brand new flag, which happened overnight this past Friday, less than 24 hours after it was put up.  It replaced the old, weathered, wind-damaged one that had replaced the one vandalized last year.

It happened because someone is so certain that we are wrong and they are right, that they felt entitled to take it down –an illegal act of theft. Never mind that the seventh or eighth commandment, depending on whether you read the Ten Commandments in Exodus or Deuteronomy, clearly states, “Do Not Steal.”

Our church is not the only one to have our rainbow flag defaced or removed.  It happens frequently, sometimes to the same congregation. Thankfully, when this happens, other churches offer support.

The Rainbow Flag Nazis are quite active, feeling justified by their interpretation of the Bible and/or a longing for an America past where LGBTQ people hid themselves away in their tomb-like closets for fear of death, brutality, and economic and social stigma.

By the way, I have very deliberately chosen the phrase “Rainbow Flag Nazis” to describe these vandals. Because their intent in removing or defacing our rainbow flag is to intimidate/terrorize LGBTQ persons and our allies, to scapegoat and erase us, to put us in our place.

Sound familiar?

But the actions of the Rainbow Flag Nazis are neither Christian nor American. And because God is a God of love and justice, they will not prevail.

Not Christian, because Jesus said “Love your neighbors as you love yourselves.” Like it or not, you Rainbow Flag Nazis out there, LGBTQ people and the churches who welcome and affirm them are your neighbors, and it is not loving of them to attempt to intimidate or terrorize them, to erase them, to deny their existence by suppressing or defacing the symbol of a church’s welcome and affirmation of them.

So if you’re tearing down our flag in the name of Christ, stop it!

Not American, because it is an unconstitutional attack on my church’s first amendment rights.  Our rainbow flag is an expression of my faith community’s religious values displayed on our private property that belongs to our religious institution. The Rainbow Flag Nazis have the right to disagree, but they do not have the right to suppress the expression of our faith on our private property.

So if you’re tearing down our flag because “America,” stop it!

Happily, one of my roles as the church administrator is to order another rainbow flag from Amazon and my wife and I or other church members –even the straight ones, who are by far the majority in our church — will put it up again. We will put it up in a “wise as serpents, innocent as doves” way that hopefully, Rainbow Flag Nazis will be deterred from removing it.

And if the Rainbow Flag Nazis tear it down again, we’ll put up another one. And another. And another, ad infinitum. In honor of the God who, as my pastor reminded me when I discovered the theft of our flag, first put a rainbow up in the sky to assure all of Her children that She would never again destroy them.

We will put it up on the wall of our church building that faces one of our local high schools, so that not only our own church folks, but the LGBTQ kids who attend that school will know that, in spite of bullying, in spite of  lies about LGBTQ people they may have been fed along the way, God created them as the people they are.

That God loves them with a love that will not let them go, even if for some of them, their parents and their churches do …. But that’s a blog for another day.

The Next Step on the Journey Begins

A promise I made to myself last year is that, after about 20 years in a church pulpit, when my wife and I moved to Colorado’s Grand Valley from Michigan, I would make time to write more, especially since I am currently not a pastor and no longer necessarily feel called to be one. I am content to serve as a part time church administrator, working mostly behind the scenes…

… and thereby freed to pursue a different calling: the doing of public theology, which involves a great deal of writing, among many other tasks.

I have been inspired by an event that took place over this past weekend at my church, which hosted the Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite teaching me and other congregants about how religious progressives can write for the public square. Among the many wise words she offered were these:

It is my job as a citizen and a person of faith to bring the resources of Christian theology to the public square in order to deepen and improve our public debates.

Like Annie Dillard, “I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.” [Pilgrim at Tinker Creek]

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

The Apostle Paul assures us that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” One’s call to ministry is not negated by the absence of a professional position and in fact may be enhanced in some ways. I know one reason I am in this place, for such a time as this, is to explore how my ministerial call is changing, and how the calling and ministry of the Church is changing.

I am casting my bread upon the waters, as it is written in Ecclesiastes, trusting that the word will not return empty, as promised in Isaiah.

Because words of wisdom, words of peace, thoughtful words, words of reconciliation and words of restraint –good words, gospel words—are desperately needed right now.

Prophetic words of challenge, responsibility and accountability are also much needed now, in a time when so much of what passes for Christianity in the US seems to me –and to many others—to fail to live up to the highest calling for anyone who claims to be a Christian, which is following Christ and doing the “even greater things” that Jesus promised his disciples they would do.

In a time when so many of the words that are spoken or written give more heat than light, by the grace of God I will strive to write words that will give more light than heat, admittedly a challenge for a passionate person like me, who, as a member of a commonly marginalized community, believes and fears and is angry that the target on her back is becoming larger.

Because evil flourishes when good people do –and say—nothing.