Politically Partisan Pastors

Over the last week I have seen one red, gray and blue graphic more than any other.  It seeks to tell the complex story of pastoral political affiliation in the United States in a single image. The widely shared graphic comes from Kevin Quealy's June 12 New York Times article "Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows."  Quealy's article reports on the most ambitious research of its kind, which was undertaken by Eitan D. Hersh and Read More …

Mainline Members – Political Leanings

If you know much about American Christianity, you may expect Mainline Protestants to be more likely to have more liberal political leanings than the average American.  The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study affords an unparalleled look at this topic by breaking down many of the larger religious denominations by what political party their members self-identify as leaning toward or with which they affiliate. Among all US adults the survey found that 37% are or lean Republican, Read More …

My 2016 Search for a Church

How does someone with more than fifteen years of parish ministry experience search for a church when presented with the opportunity to connect with a community of faith as an active participant rather than serving as a pastor or staff member? In my case the answer is a work in progress. Last September I relocated to North Texas after living in Southwest Florida for eight years.  Immediately, my wife and I started our search for a church. Despite my travel for work, we have managed to Read More …

Stop Redecorating & Start Making Real Changes

Tom Ehrich, a writer and Episcopal priest, recently slammed the work of an Episcopal task force. For him, the task force's focus on what can be done at the level of the denomination "seems a bit like redecorating and recalibrating the home office of a company in which the home office plays a minor role." The time for that type of change ended decades ago.  The mainline denominations (a group that includes Episcopalians) are a shell of what they once were, and are now "down more than 42 Read More …

Adult Education Opportunities

One of my current roles is organizing adult educational offerings at Naples United Church of Christ (Naples, FL).   Since our congregation grows significantly during season (the time of year when many snowbirds visit), we provide a more robust program during that portion of the year.  A preview of some of the highlights of the season to come (Advent 2012 - Pentecost 2013) follows: General Education internet guru Marcus Zillman memory expert Dr. Bill Beckwith  educator Stephen Read More …

Episcopalian Praise for the UCC

John Shelby Spong served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001.  In retirement, he has been a prolific writer and speaker.   His latest essay, "A Salute to the United Church of Christ," portrays the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a denomination with the potential to "inspire, bring about and participate in the necessary reformation required to break the Christian faith out of its dying patterns."  While Spong has had numerous interactions with Read More …

Review of Mainline Christianity

Meet the Author Jason S. Lantzer is an adjunct professor of history at Indiana University, Purdue University and Butler University.  His BA (History & Political Science), MA (History) and Ph.D. (History) were all earned from Indiana University.  Lantzer is the author of two books: Prohibition Is Here to Stay: The Reverend Edward S. Shumaker and the Dry Crusade in America (2009) and Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America's Majority Faith (2012). Relevance For the last Read More …

Stop Doing That!

Many ministries that are highly effective and growing during a given season of a congregation's life eventually wane significantly.  LeeAnne Watkins, rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church (St. Paul, MN), considers how best to respond to these difficult situations in her article in the June 13, 2012 edition of the Christian Century (p.10-11). In her parish, the once popular adult education offerings and midweek services stopped drawing significant crowds.  Along with a leadership team, she Read More …

Review of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World

Meet the Author John Shelby Spong was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2000. Since that time he has taught at Harvard University, the University of the Pacific, and Drew University.  Additionally, he delivers more than 200 public lectures each year as a visiting lecturer at churches and universities.  Bishop Spong's books have sold over one million copies, including Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World (2011), Eternal Life: A New Read More …

A New Day in the PCUSA

The Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA has been in the news more this past week than any time this year.  The denomination officially amended its constitution earlier this year to allow gays and lesbians to serve as ministers and lay leaders. Last Saturday, the Rev. Scott Anderson was ordained as the denomination's first openly gay pastor.  He told CNN: "It's an exciting time for me personally to be the first openly gay person ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and it's a big moment Read More …