New Educational Inequality

College-Costs

The ongoing rapid rise in the cost of a college education has been troubling for some time.  The increasing costs are troubling for graduates and the economy. For current college students a new reality is making an already challenging situation more difficult for those from families with the lowest household incomes.  More specifically,  the Hechinger Report considered the net price change students experienced from the 2008-09 school year to the 2011-12 year.  This data shows that students Read More …

A Unique Lenten Discipline

40 Days in Orange

Last year I shared the story of an unusual Lenten discipline: Shawnthea Monroe, senior minister of Plymouth Church, chose to wear a collar for Lent.  This year, I encountered an even more unique Lenten discipline: wearing orange prison jumpsuit. Kent McKeever, a Baptist youth minister at Seventh and James Baptist Church and an attorney who represents indigent clients through Mission Waco, is wearing the orange jumpsuit throughout Lent "to draw attention to disparities in the sentencing of the Read More …

Living in Happy Land

Top cities

I often tell people I live in paradise.  It appears that many experts agree with my assessment.  The latest statistic to support my claim about Naples (and Marco Island), FL comes from a Gallup study on the wellbeing of American communities.  It ranks Naples-Marco Island as 7th highest level of wellbeing among the nearly 200 metro areas considered. A few years ago I shared Naples rank as the #2 happiest seaside town.  Earlier this year, Marco Island was named the #1 island by Trip Read More …

The Wisdom of the Labyrinth

Wisdom of the Labyrinth

Naples United Church of Christ, one of the congregations I serve, recently added a public labyrinth to its campus.  This new labyrinth will be formally dedicated at a public ceremony this Saturday, April 5 at 4:00 p.m. Prior to that event, Lauren Artress will lead a 6-hour workshop: The Wisdom of the Labyrinth.  Registration ($60 today or $75 thereafter) can be completed online.  To learn more about the workshop and labyrinth, check out Kelly Farrell's recent Naples Daily News Read More …

Sermon: A Holy Invitation

Jesus and Nicodemus

Sermon Texts: Genesis 12:1-9 and John 3:1-13, 16-17 Sermon Excerpt Learning has always come easily for me.  I breezed through high school, excelled in the final years of college, and earned my graduate and doctoral degrees with distinction.  In sharing my academic story I intentionally omitted the less than pretty part that came early in my college experience when I encountered Professor Berrier. When I registered for Old Testament Survey I looked forward to learning more about the Read More …

Pope Francis Goes to Confession

Pope Confessing

Popes going to Confession is nothing new, and the current Pope going to confession isn't newsworthy.  Pope Francis decision, however, to go off script yet again in a penance service is. Rather than heading for the confessional to which he was being escorted in order to hear confessions, Pope Francis chose to make his way to another confessional where he "spent about three minutes kneeling before the priest’s open confessional and received absolution."  Only after doing so did he hear Read More …

Extravagant Welcome Reality Check

Extravagant-Welcome

The United Church of Christ is known for providing an extravagant welcome to all people.  Individual congregations expend considerable energy striving to live this out every Sunday morning when they gather for worship. Recently J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the UCC's Local Church Ministries, shared an experience of the denomination's national offices falling short of providing an extravagant welcome.   The Troubling Situation Every year half a million people flood into Read More …

Young Adults = Non-Institutionally Oriented

unmoored

The latest Pew Research Center report indicates that Millennials (those now ranging in age from 18 to 33), are unmoored from institutions.  This reality is seen most clearly in statistics relating to political preference (50% are independents), religious connection (29% are unaffiliated), and marriage (26% are married).  Both percentages have risen significantly in recent years. So What? The trend toward less and less institutional affiliation by America's youngest adults is either Read More …

Moving to Mobile

responsive-web-design

I still remember a time when nearly everyone I knew relied on a desktop at work (or at school) as well as at home.  Not only did everyone have a desktop, those machines were the primary way people did any and all computing -- including online endeavors.  Within a few years stories of that world will amaze younger crowds as much as stories of cell phones in huge carry bags amaze today's smart phone users. Recent statistics indicate the move to mobile is as or more dramatic than most might Read More …

Who Are You?

Greg is

Last week I modified the words of what I found to be an intriguing Facebook status, and used the new version as a status update. My version read "Share your insight: use 1 word to describe me. (Don't repeat any words already used.)" According to the results, I am keen, organized, smart, pensive, brilliant, intelligent, focused, diplomatic, efficient, gregarious, contemplative, energetic, thoughtful, innovator, friend, spirited, believer, son, and minister.  Additionally - and certainly worthy Read More …