Closing the Clergy Gender Pay Gap

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land in the USA for my entire life.  That legal expectation, however, has not translated into actual dollar per dollar gender equality. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates women earn just $0.83 for every dollar men earn. American Clergy Since the Christian church holds equality of all persons as a core value, one should reasonably expect it would be a model of pay equality.  Unfortunately, the pay gap for clergy is Read More …

More Than Commas

The United Church of Christ has long been known as the church of the comma.  That campaign resonated with me to the degree that I have (and have often worn!) a comma pin. I have also said the line attributed to Gracie Allen on many occasions: "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."  In short, I appreciate the reminder that God is still speaking. New Punctuation Since God is still speaking the United Church of Christ's latest additions to the punctuation serve both to expand 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 …

Identity: Who Are We? Who Am I?

I am a planner.  The tendency to plan my work and work my plan is a part of my identity.  As a pastor, I planned worship themes well in advance.  Since I left my last call before the end of the liturgical year, I never fully developed what would have become the last two sermon series before Advent. Identity Identity was a big part of my work as an interim or transitional pastor.  In my last call, prior to the start of what would have become back-to-back series on identity that community of Read More …

Sermon: Spiritual Glue

Sermon Text: Hebrews 8:6-13 Sermon Excerpt We are a part of the United Church of Christ, a tradition that boldly proclaims “our faith is 2,000 years old but our thinking is not.”This tradition – our denomination – is a network of around 5,000 congregations and nearly 1 million members. We also claim to be a multiracial and multicultural church, and a church that emphasizes covenant. Let me slow down here . . . Before I can even comment on whether or not we have achieved or at Read More …

Prayers for Racial Justice

This Sunday, August 9, 2015, is the first anniversary of Mike Brown's death.  On this day the congregation I pastor (Fort Myers Congregational United Church of Christ) will join with hundreds and perhaps thousands of other congregations in the United Church of Christ by including prayers for racial justice as a part of services of worship.  This shared emphasis is the direct result of a group of faith leaders who have met regularly by conference call under the leadership of Geoffrey Black, the Read More …

Mainline: Lacking Racial Diversity

Race related topics have been featured in the news more in recent months than any time I can recall.  Mainline Protestants generally tend to have healthy perspectives on race.  Such philosophical and even theological understandings do not necessarily translate into action (for example: read my summary and reflection of Bradley Wright's recent research showing that Mainline Protestant congregations had the highest rate of discrimination to prospective visitors) nor do they lead to racially Read More …

Ministry Reflection: Getting Started in the UCC

On June 30, I concluded 4+ years of service as Director of Adult Education at Naples United Church of Christ (a tenure that also included a shorter stint as IT Manager).  This ministry role was my first in the United Church of Christ after serving congregations affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lutheran (ELCA), and Presbyterian (PCUSA) traditions. Naples UCC Naples UCC is among the flagship churches in the United Church of Christ denomination. Just over 1% Read More …

Sermon: Living Well, Living Wisely

Sermon Text: James 3:13-18 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt Last Sunday I shared that our denomination – the United Church of Christ – was in the middle of something called General Synod.  Held every two years this national gathering affords an opportunity for many in our tradition to come together in one place for several days of worship, learning, and decision making. At this General Synod – our thirtieth, held in Cleveland – delegates voted on more than a dozen resolutions.  By now you Read More …

A Call for Marriage Equality

Currently I serve as Transitional Minister at Fort Myers Congregational United Church of Christ.  In March of 2013 our congregation became the denomination's 1090th Open and Affirming congregation.  Earlier this year we rejoiced when marriage equality arrived in Florida.  We are hopeful that it will soon become a national reality. The following is an excerpt from the portion of yesterday's worship service focused on marriage equality in support of the Religious Institute's National Weekend of Read More …