Connecting Beyond the Local Church

Davida Foy Crabtree completes her service as the Interim Conference Minister for the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ later this month.  As one who has benefited from her leadership, I share her parting prayer (the prayer originally circulated in the e-Celebrate newsletter dated September 3, 2014): Behold, God, your Conference, the United Church of Christ in Florida! Filled with life and hope, struggling at times to see the future, but faithful and strong, these Your people are Read More …

Popular Presbyterians

Last week I happened upon a chart showing how common certain words related to mainline Protestantism appeared in the New York Times.   I was immediately intrigued to see that Presbyterians have received better coverage than others since 1860 and that the use of the term peaked in 1937, appearing that year in 2,149 articles. After determining how to create my own charts, I made one reflecting the names of the four traditions with which I have had formal affiliation:  Christian Church Read More …

Fort Myers Congregational UCC

    This summer continues to be marked by new opportunities.  I am currently spending four Sundays (July 20, July 27, August 3, and August 10) as the guest preacher at Fort Myers Congregational UCC (Fort Myers, FL). Check out last Sunday's message: "A Holy Invitation."       Read More …

Summer Shifts

Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year.  It is also a time when many people temporarily shift their normal routine.  I will be making shifts in several areas for the summer, including: Blogging I have published one blog post a day for the last 10 months, and a total of 1,450 since launching this blog in 2009.  This will be my last daily post for the summer.  I will continue to post on occasion rather than taking a month off as I did last year (a much needed break Read More …

The End of Interim Ministry?

Later this month I will conclude a 10 month interim role as the Senior Minister of United Church (Marco Island, FL): a congregation affiliated with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the United Church of Christ.  This year long journey has afforded the congregation an opportunity to process the past, understand the present, and prepare for the future.  I firmly believe it will enable the new settled minister to begin well from day one knowing that folks are ready Read More …

Spiritual Prodigies

Vince Amlin, associate minister at the United Church of Gainesville (Gainesville, FL), recently suggested that we need more spiritual prodigies. More specifically, he wrote The Church could use a generation of spiritual prodigies. The UCC needs them. The world needs them – kids hungry for a second helping of soul. So What? I agree wholeheartedly with Amlin that the church is ready to benefit from a new generation of spiritual prodigies.  I wonder, however, what it is that your local Read More …

Sermon: More Than Showing Up

Sermon Text: Matthew 22:1-14 Sermon Excerpt: I still remember the first sermon I ever preached.  Actually, I remember the preparation far better than the actual message . . . Thankfully no parishioners were exposed to or harmed by my effort. During the spring semester of my freshman year in college, I took an introductory course on preaching.  The goal was to learn how to prepare a sermon, and how to deliver it. When it came time to actually work on our own sermons the first task was Read More …

UCC Files Landmark Lawsuit

By now I hope you have heard that earlier this week the United Church of Christ filed lawsuit arguing that North Carolina marriage laws limit ministers' choices, violate the principle of "free exercise of religion" upon which the church is built, and restrict the freedoms of religion and expressive association guaranteed in the First Amendment. The following 2 1/2 minute video message from Geoffrey Black, President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, provides a helpful Read More …

Declining Worship Attendance

The United Church of Christ is a lot like other mainline Protestant denominations in terms of general trends in worship attendance.  In general the long term trend is toward fewer congregations featuring fewer present in worship. The UCC's Fall 2013 Statistical Profile notes that more than 7 in 10 congregations have an average weekly worship attendance of less than 100 individuals compared to just over 6 in 10 a decade earlier (an increase from 62.8% to 70.4%). Not only are small Read More …

Labyrinth Dedication

Two days ago, on a beautiful sunny 80 degree afternoon, the outdoor labyrinth at the Naples United Church of Christ was dedicated in a simple but moving service. In keeping with the intentionally public always welcoming placement of this new labyrinth the service was open to all and concluded with an invitation to linger and walk. So What? The Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, founder of Veriditas and the world's foremost expert on the labyrinth, was present to lead an all day workshop prior to the Read More …