United Methodist Queer Clergy Respond to Naming of Special Commission

We speak as a collective voice with the authority of those who are called and claimed by a God whose love knows no bounds; as those whose Commissioning and Ordination have been affirmed by the Church: we …

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“LGBTQI Clergy Call UM “Way Forward” Commission Backward”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, alex.souto@nyac-umc.com, 415-706-5397 “LGBTQI Clergy Call UM “Way Forward” Commission Backward” October 26, 2016—On Monday, the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church announced the membership of the …

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An official request to have my name removed from every official list of United Church of Canada clergy

I am sure you know that the United Church of Canada has subjected one of its ministers,
Gretta Vosper to a hearing where she was thoroughly interrogated over what up until now has
been the basis for ‘essential agreement’. Not anymore! She is now in the process of being
defrocked which means the UCC has now become a signing creedal church, with no
expectation of growth since ordination vows. It also means from henceforth any ordained
minister can be hauled before a similar court on the basic of one complaint, NOT EVEN
from within the congregation, about what that minister said.

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Dealing with an unintended consequence of our graying

In general, mainline congregations have missed two successive generations of young adults. Funerals far outnumber baptisms and weddings. Our average age is pushing 65. Sunday schools and youth groups are sparse. Young families in our community don’t aim their SUVs toward us. Many church activities serving young families happen away from Sunday morning, anyway, which our Sunday-oriented elderly don’t understand or value. Meanwhile, the elderly are dealing with isolation, an epidemic of loneliness, and a range of health issues that only other elderly appreciate.

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Scriptural Reasoning — a group-based interfaith study of sacred texts

Dear interfaith leaders around the world: Scriptural Reasoning is a process in which small groups of Jews, Christians and Muslims, and sometimes people of other faiths, gather to read and reflect upon short passages from their scriptures. “Opening our sacred texts to others for conversation from the heart, and modeling a fellowship that sees difference as rich and illuminating” fashions a relationship through the medium of sacred writings. Scriptural Reasoning’s well-constructed website includes a number of guides and rich resources, including 24 “Text Bundles” which offer brief scriptural readings from the three Abrahamic religions, with titles such as “Encountering God”, “Abrahamic Hospitality”, “Fasting” and “Refugees.”

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Be a great elderly church — address actual needs

If yours is a typical mainline church, your congregation’s average age is pushing past 60 and moving toward 70. Every Sunday, you see more “gray” in your pews and more empty spaces.

So what do you do? You have three choices:

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US Senator & VP candidate says Catholic Church could change on marriage

US Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, a practicing Catholic, spoke on Saturday at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner, at which he said he thought the Church might change its mind on same-sex couples marrying the way he had changed his own mind on the issue. The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reports that Kaine recounted that “as a result of his Catholic faith, he had a ‘difficult time with the idea of same-sex marriage,” but that changed during debate over an anti-marriage constitutional amendment campaign, which passed with 57 percent of the vote over his opposition.

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What My Universalism Is and Is Not

  If you spend more than 20 minutes with me, either in person or on social media, you will no doubt pick up on the fact that I am an unabashed Universalist. I have no qualms about …

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A Word to the Spiritual Seekers

Our question to the church is “How can we grow and evolve in our experience and understanding of the Mystery of the universe if we close our ears and minds to the creative voices that push us beyond the traditional views?”

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Three ways “the conventional wisdom” hurts churches

In 1958 – as, coincidentally, mainline Protestant churches were enjoying their happy heyday – economist John Kenneth Galbraith began to use a term to describe widely acceptable and comfortable ideas that might not actually be true but …

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Six ways for moving forward beyond our own dying

… the familiar point that mainline and evangelical congregations are weighted toward elderly constituents and have little appeal to younger cohorts.

Okay, okay. Old news to anyone who has been observing the changing shape of Christianity in America. But the question remains, what do we do about it?

I have six suggestions for moving on to a better future.

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A new and innovative ministry is now available exclusively to Progressive pastors and congregations: Pastor2Pew. Our mission is to produce timely materials to assist progressive preachers in sermon preparation, and generally inform congregations about progressive theology.

The centerpiece is a collection of video interviews with prominent pastors following their approach to the lectionary text of the week. We will be looking over their shoulders (as it were) as they move from meditating on the text to its final form.

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What an entrepreneur does as church leader

Can people who draw energy primarily from within themselves be effective as entrepreneurial church leaders?

In a word, yes. For the entrepreneurial role isn’t about extroversion or introversion. In fact, some of the most effective entrepreneurs in business are introverts. Bill Gates, of Microsoft, for example. Also Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook; Marissa Meyer, of Yahoo; investor Warren Buffett.

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Not all Muslims are violent …

“If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence… and no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there’s everything.”

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The Chaplaincy Institute offers education programs for those with a unique calling to spiritual service

About our Seminary Programs At The Chaplaincy Institute, we believe that the world is in need of the gifts and talents of every individual called to service. Our Interfaith seminary is dedicated to supporting the unique call …

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Learn New Things

The path forward is clearly marked: reach beyond our walls, communicate more aggressively, stop relying on Sunday worship, encourage clergy to be entrepreneurs and not chaplains, form small groups, turn our funds to mission work, seek to change people’s lives. Many congregations are trying it. But it’s like installing a swimming pool. Everything is new, and the new things that need to be done now are the hard ones.

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“What If”?

Let’s start with a “what if”: what if you were starting a church today, what would you do?
You can do this. It’s like the state motto of New Hampshire: “Live free, or die.” You can live free of negative overhead, dysfunctional practices, and old expectations. You can make fresh decisions – “choose life,” said Moses. Or you can die.

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Look Outward, Reach 3 Audiences

The work of the religious professional must look “beyond the walls” of the church, beyond the comfortable conversations we have with people we know, beyond in-house concerns, beyond the shared language of our years together.

To engage with the larger world beyond our walls, we can’t just send more people our latest in-house, inward-facing conversations. We need to address the needs, concerns, yearnings, questions and personalities of that larger world.

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