Category Archives: human interest

Presbyterian News Headlines For The Second Half Of January 2015

Hit a busy spot in my schedule and fell behind and things are about to get really busy with Assembly meetings starting, but I will see what I can get cranked out here.

For the second half of January, here are a few items that caught my attention.

There was a theme about the church protecting and helping the poor expressed from various branches around the world be it a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana:

Presbyterian Church urged to protect the poor – from GhanaWeb

Or the words about economic justice from a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive:

Presbyterian Church voices concern over vulnerable – from Belfast News Letter

Or a church in Rochester, New York, responding to the severe cold of the winter to fast-track permits to host a homeless shelter:

Downtown United Presbyterian Church to be Interim Homeless Shelter – from WXXI News


A party in a church basement in Portland had a shooting occur in the street right outside. The party was not a church function but rented out for a private party.

Party in church basement leads to possible gang shooting, ‘people running all over,’ police say – from The Oregonian

Tabor Space changes party policy after shooting – from KOIN


A bill permitting assisted suicide is making its way through the Scottish Parliament and some Scottish  churches, including the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland, are uniting against it:

Bill raises questions about life and death – from Stornoway Gazette

Religious leaders to speak out on legalising assisted suicide – from stv news

However, a later article grabbed headlines when it quoted the Very Rev. Sandy McDonald – former Moderator of the General Assembly and father of actor David Tennant – in support of the legislation

David Tennant’s terminally ill father pledges support for assisted suicide – from Best Daily

However, in just the last few days the report has come back and church opposition is still present but there does not appear to be support for the bill from the members of parliament:

Church reaffirms opposition to assisted suicide bill following health committee report – Church of Scotland press release

Prof addresses assisted suicide conference – Free Church of Scotland press release

Setback for campaigners as MSPs fail to back Assisted Suicide Bill – from The National


From the Presbytery of Chicago, the presbytery was sued for alleged sexual abuse at a presbytery-run youth center

Seven men file sex abuse suits against Chicago Presbytery – from Chicago Tribune

Lawsuits allege abuse at West Side Presbyterian ministries – from Chicago Sun Times


A major gift to a seminary, the largest in its history

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary bequeathed $20 million – from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Also from Ghana — a new President of the Presbyterian University College

Rev Prof Obeng inducted as PU College President – from spyghana

An appeal to let the missions run the mission schools

Hand over our schools to us to manage – Presby Church demands – from GhanaWeb


Church to clamp down on indisipline – from spyghana; “The Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), has entreated Ministers, Catechists and Presbyters of the Church to abide by its tenets and principles in the discharge of their duties.”


A statement showing solidarity on racial justice issues

Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Presidents Issue Open Letter on Racial Justice – from Planet Princeton


And in New Zealand, the church working on racial reconciliation issues with the indigenous peoples:

Non-Maori urged to connect with Maori – from Radio New Zealand

Presbyterian Church to lead Waitangi Day dawn ceremony for first time – PCANZ press release; “For the first time in the history of the Presbyterian Church, its ministers, led by the Church’s Māori Synod, will conduct the Waitangi Day dawn ceremony at Waitangi.”


A church’s community project in northern Scotland is at full capacity. It was opened during the General Assembly with a royal visit.

Stornoway community project celebrates success after royal opening – from Stornoway Gazzete


Some news about individual churches and their buildings

Two Presbyterian Churches get historic landmark status – from Paterson Times (New Jersey)


And finally, a retirement

Farewell to the Royal Navy’s top ‘bish’ as chaplain of the fleet retires – from The News; “For the past four years, the Reverend Scott Brown has presided over a sizeable parish made up of 77 vessels and all the souls of the Royal Navy… Rev Brown, who is only the second ever chaplain of the fleet to be of the Church of Scotland, has served in the post for the last four 

And the funeral for Ernie Banks at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

Fans, former teammates, friends pay respects at Ernie Banks visitation – from Chicago Tribune

That’s it for now. Until next time have a good one.

Presbyterian News Headlines For The First Half Of August 2014

With the GA Season winding down and my summer vacation behind me it seems time to resume the headlines posts. While I have delusions that I might get caught up back to when I dropped the posts for GA season, that will probably not happen. There were a couple of interesting items in that time period and I might do one major highlights piece, but we will see if that actually happens.

But for now, let’s turn to the first half of this month and what caught my attention.

A significant news thread in Europe was the centenary of the start of World War One and the involvement of the UK in that conflict. For a number of reasons I won’t go into several significant national commemorations were held in Scotland with the major involvement of the Church of Scotland.

Scotland commemorates World War One centenary (from BBC News Scotland)

Church of Scotland Moderator urges world leaders to learn from WW1 (from Ekklesia)

Across the Presbyterian branches there were calls for peace in Gaza

Gaza: Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland in plea for peace (from Belfast Telegraph)

Largest Presbyterian Denomination in US Demands Obama Push for Israeli-Hamas Ceasefire (from The Christian Post)

Head of Church of Scotland in plea for peace in Gaza (from Herald Scotland)

And in an interesting side note, that last headline brought some comments about how for Presbyterians that headline should have referred to the Moderator of the church since, as this letter to the editor points out, Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church:

The true head of the Kirk (letter to the editor in Herald Scotland)

An Irish minister who died in a tragic scuba accident is remembered

Deeply committed and straight-talking Presbyterian minister (from the Irish Times)

In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, the historic Greyfriars Church of Scotland building was sold to a local businessman leading to some concern over the fate of the building. The new owner is having the building inspected to determine what it would take to preserve the building and possible uses while others are looking at possible paths to ensure preservation.

Greyfriars church sold (from Trinidad Express Newspapers)
‘I felt compelled to buy Greyfriars’ (from Trinidad Express Newspapers)
National Trust moves to protect historic Greyfriars Church (from Trinidad Express Newspapers)
I can’t make guarantees (from the Guardian)

Southside Presbyterian Church of Tucson, a church which was a leader in the sanctuary movement 30 years ago, is once again offering sanctuary to undocumented individuals.

Presbyterian church in Arizona offers sanctuary to undocumented migrant (from Reuters)

Also, from the PC(USA), a lawsuit that includes the denomination as a defendant

Minister’s lawsuit targets his own denomination over sexual abuse allegations (AP story in The Kansas City Star); “The Rev. Kris Schondelmeyer, a youth minister in Toledo, Ohio, is seeking unspecified damages in a lawsuit he filed against the Louisville, Ky.-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); First Presbyterian Church of Fulton, Mo.; the Missouri Union Presbytery in Jefferson City; and his alleged abuser, Jack Wayne Rogers.”

Finally, a profile of Doran, Minn., population 55, caught my attention because of the emphasis on the Presbyterian church and how it is the last remaining house of worship in town as well as a community gathering spot.

Doran, Minn.: Little town on the prairie (from the Daily News of Wahpeton, ND and Breckenridge, MN)

So until next time…

Top Ten List – Presbyterian News Stories Of 2011

A bit of a new thing for me but I after thinking about this for a while I thought I would give it a try. No promises that this will become any sort of tradition – but maybe.

It comes with a few caveats – my list may not correspond to yours, in most cases it is more theme than single story, and not too much should be read into the order the stories are in. Also, like the eclectic nature of this blog it is geographically broader than some may anticipate. So without further ado – my top ten Presbyterian news themes and stories for 2011…

  • Ordination Standards – Some things change: Probably the highest-profile Presbyterian news of the year was the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s adoption of Amendment 10-A removing explicit language prohibiting the ordination of same-sex partnered individuals. Along those same lines the Church of Scotland decided at their 2011 General Assembly to begin heading in a similar direction. Within the PC(USA) there is still one related judicial case to be settled but the conclusion of a second one cleared the way for the ordination of Scott Anderson as a teaching elder.
  • Ordination Standards – Some things remain the same: Both the Mizoram (India) Presbyterian Synod and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico turned down proposals to approve the ordination of women. (Mizoram news story, Mexico news story) And in the American Evangelical Presbyterian Church the General Assembly approved a framework to align churches with presbyteries that are like-minded on the subject.
  • Presbyterian Mutual Society gets their bail-out: A bail-out package for the savings and loan mutual society was finally put together by the governments and the church for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland affiliated organization. Savers started getting their deposits back over the summer.
  • Presbyterian Church in Canada participates in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: At the National Truth and Reconciliation Event in Halifax in October the PCC was active and participating, including comments from the Moderator that included the 1994 official apology for the Church’s participation in the assimilation policy and the “tragic legacy of the Indian Residential Schools System.”
  • Property cases: While a few congregations successfully defended their right to property in civil court cases (e.g. Carrollton PC v Presbytery of South Louisiana), in general the denomination was usually successful in property cases. This holds not just for the PC(USA) (e.g. Hope PC, Oregon; Timberridge PC, Georgia) but for the Free Church of Scotland as well in their case to regain Broardford from the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing).
  • Federal Vision cases in the PCA continue: In the Pacific Northwest Presbytery TE Peter Leithart was found not guilty of Federal Vision charges. In another case the Standing Judicial Commission ruled that Missouri Presbytery had not properly acted upon the allegations against TE Jeffery Meyers and they sent the case back to the presbytery for trial.
  • Renewal and Reform – PC(USA) moves forward and the Church of Scotland stops short: The PC(USA) took a number of steps this year to modernize, led by the Administrative Commission on Middle Governing Bodies ramping up its work, but also including a new Form of Government Section in the Book of Order and the Special Committee on the Nature of the Church for the 21st Century. Similarly, the Church of Scotland General Assembly heard the report of their Panel on Review and Reform, but the proposal for restructuring presbyteries was rejected with out an alternative leaving a lot of people asking “what now?”
  • 75th Anniversary of the split resulting from the Fundamentalist/Modernist debate: The division led to an earlier Presbyterian Church in America and a couple years later the Bible Presbyterian Church.  That earlier PCA developed into the Orthodox Presbyterian Church which recognized and discussed their branch of the division at their General Assembly this year.
  • Fellowship PC(USA) of Presbyterians: Beginning with an invitation in February this new affiliation hosted one of the largest Presbyterian gatherings this year. While morphing a few times through the year (name change, dropping a tier) it ended with the release of the draft theology and polity documents related to the formation of a New Reformed Body.
  • Presbyterian Church of Ghana and therapy treatment of homosexuals: While in itself the announcement might not have made the list, it was amplified via Twitter and the response, mostly negative, went viral globally.

I will add an honorable mention which while not as high profile as others on this list, it is always noteworthy when a new Presbyterian branch is organized. In this case, it is the foundational Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Timor Leste. (H/T MGPC Pastor)

So with that I will wrap up this calendar year of blogging and wish all of my gentle readers the very best for the New Year. (And yes, I do realize that some of you are already there…) May you celebrate the rolling of the calendar with the proper Presbyterian proportions of ardor and order, and of course doing it decently and in order.  Happy New Year!

UPDATE: For a list of the Top 10 for one branch, the PC(USA), check out the Presbyterian Outlook article.

Recordings For Children With A Twist

I suspect that some of you have used musical settings for scripture memory for either yourself or your children.  Well, thanks to a discussion begun by sjonee at PuritanBoard I have been made aware of songs for learning about the Westminster Confession.

The PuritanBoard discussion begins with a pointer to Songs For Saplings and their Questions With Answers series.  From listening to the samples and reading the lyrics these all appear to be songs in the context of catechism-like questions with Westminster-like answers.  While there are close echos of the Westminster Confession, and Larger and Shorter Catechisms here, it does not appear to be a literal musical setting of them.  But it takes a question, like “Who is God?” (note that Westminster asks “What is God?”) and answers with something like the Westminster Confession, in this case:

God is the only living and true God. He’s
the all-glorious, almighty, all-knowing
Sovereign Creator and Lord of the whole universe.
is perfect and holy, infinite, eternal and unchanging.

The Westminster Confession section says:

There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty; most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withalh most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

Probably a reasonable summation of the section for children ages 3-5.  There are three CD’s on the market so far, each for a slightly older age range.

But the PuritanBoard discussion brought out a couple of other similar recordings.  One is the Baptist Catechism Set To Music.  There is also a four volume set of the Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs.  And you can find some on YouTube as well:  Here is YouTube – Singing – Shorter Catechism Q1.

And now for something completely different…

A while back I ran across a CD of lulliby music for children drawn from the classical tradition.  Preformed by Eric and Susan Davis it includes some well known and contemporary music and is all instrumental.  But what caught my attention was the title:

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

It seems innocent enough, and there is nothing really wrong with it, but I had to wonder what the target audiance would think if they were aware of the source of the line.  As I am sure many of you are aware it comes from an 18th century children’s prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
Should I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

As I said, I have no problem with the prayer and I know many new parents who would probably be fine with it.  But I suspect that some a modern parents would not be as comfortable because it is a prayer or because of the content.  It is not like our modern society to worry about dying in our sleep, to say nothing of the fact that many modern parents are not religious enough to even consider praying for the Lord’s protection.

Or maybe this is just my unusual mind overinterpreting modern culture.  Maybe no one would really care.

Community In Football

I guess there is some football game on Sunday.  American football that is.  Our small group Bible study is getting together and some of us will watch it.  People seem to think that it is something big, but it is nothing compared to what the rest of the world calls football.  Just wait until 2010 in South Africa.  But I digress…

So once again the United States comes to a halt on a Sunday to watch a sporting event.  I reflected on this last year and yesterday a discussion started on the Puritan Board about doing this on a Sunday.  It does of course revolve around not just issues of the fourth commandment but the second as well.  I found it interesting how that crowd was about evenly split, it seemed to me, between watching and not watching.  A while back Ethics Daily had an opinion piece on “Has Sports Become A Religion In America?”  (See above about the sport the world is passionate about if you think Americans are the only ones.)  On NPR yesterday there was an interview with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Bob Dvorchak where he said that their football team was more important than religion and how it unites the Pittsburgh diaspora that resulted from the shutdown of the steel mills.

Well, to keep things in perspective I have seen three positive stories about football and community in the last few weeks that I would like to share with you.  Only one is explicitly Christian or covenant community, but the others could be as well.

Lions vs. Tornadoes high school football game

(H/T A Reforming Mom)  In his Life of Reilly column for ESPN Rick Reilly had a great story a few weeks back about a Texas high school football game between the Lions of Grapevine Faith Christian School and the Tornadoes of Gainesville State School.  It is important to understand that the Tornadoes play no home games, have no cheerleaders, and really no spectators cheering for them at games.  Gainesville State School is a maximum security youth facility.  So Grapevine Faith specifically scheduled a game with them and then shared their crowd with them as well.  Half of Grapevine’s cheerleaders and supporters were on Gainesville’s side of the field cheering them on as if they were their own team.  In an e-mail to the fans the Grapevine coach wrote: “Here’s the message I want you to send:  You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth.”  And they sent that message.  The article quotes one of the Gainesville players in the huddle of both teams at the end of the game as praying “Lord, I don’t know how this happened, so I don’t know how to say thank
You, but I never would’ve known there was so many people in the world
that cared about us.”  And the Gainesville coach told the Grapevine coach “You’ll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You’ll never, ever know.”

Update:  Just after posting this and double-checking the links I notice that Rick Reilly has posted an Epilogue to this story today.  It turns out that word got around about this, like really around, and the NFL commissioner brought the Grapevine coach to Tampa for the game on Sunday.  You have to admire the quote from the coach: “I hate it that this thing that we did is so rare.  Everybody views it as such a big deal. Shouldn’t that be the normal?”

Tony Dungy keeping community together
(H/T my friend and fellow soccer ref Jim over at APC Blog)  With Tony Dungy’s retirement from coaching ESPN ran an article about his character, and yes about community.  It was about the 1997 season when he was coaching at Tampa Bay and after the team had a great start to the season his kicker started missing and costing them a couple of games.  While the fans and press were up in arms to replace the kicker, what Dungy knew was that the kicker’s mother was dying of cancer.  Dungy stuck with him through the bad games and once called him into his office and simply told him “You’re a Buccaneer. You’re part of our family. You’re our kicker.”  That unconditional acceptance was what Michael Husted needed and his kicking returned to form the next game and Tampa Bay made the playoffs.

The touchdown belongs to the whole team
A couple of weeks ago, before the conference championship games, I heard an interesting radio commentary by Diana Nyad about Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald.  Her observation was that when he scored a touchdown, it was not about celebrating by himself in the end zone in front of the fans, but going back to the other ten players on the field who helped make the touchdown possible and celebrating with them.  Again a community ethic and she says that Fitzgerald says his mother wouldn’t want it any other way.

(The one and only pro football game I watched much of this year was the championship game Arizona won and I did get to see Fitzgerald make a couple of great plays and score touchdowns.  True to Diana Nyad’s commentary he did not put on a show in the end zone.  But he did linger there with arms raised for a few seconds and then, true to form, the TV cut away before I ever saw him jog back to his team mates to celebrate with them.  Maybe I’ll see more on Sunday.)

Blog Tricks

I am sure most bloggers and blog readers are familiar with a series of on-line tools for characterizing a blog.  I’ve done them but have not shared them before since they are a bit off-topic and it seemed, at least to me, not particularly revealing.  As  Alfred North Whitehead said “It takes a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.”  Anyway, today I came across one of these on-line tests that really was interesting, so here are several of these measurements and I have saved the new and different one for last.

Maybe one of the most interesting metrics of a blog, or any writing, is the pictorial representation of the word usage in the writing at  The current, before this post, representation is shown.

Any surprise that “Presbyterian” is the dominant word?  And where else would you find G-6.0106b as a listed word?  Anyway, I find it interesting but no new revelations here.

The Typealyzer site will give you the “personality” of a blog.  In the case of my blog it comes out INTP, and is described as “The Thinkers.”  Their description reads:

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to
difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for
something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle
connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and
imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing
and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as
arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to
understand what they are talking about.

Again, nothing new (to me) there.  But from a blog, how do they figure I’m an introvert?

Blog Readability
The Blog Readability Test tells you how high of a reading level a blog is written at.  Putting mine through comes back with College (Undergrad).  Fair enough.

You are… 
There are another series of tests about the individual, not the blog really, that are designed to associate you with some individual or character.  These range from theologians (and yes, I do score highest on John Calvin) to Winnie the Pooh characters (Owl, if you care).

Well thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton over at Telling Secrets I now know about The Way of the Fathers and Which Church Father Are You?  Now here is something new, different, and educational.  For me:

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Some interesting parallels there, so now I want to learn more about St. Melito of Sardis who I had never heard of before this lunch hour.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Politics of Presbyterianism.

New Pastoral Terminology – Or – Is That Above His Pay Grade?

I am trying to figure out if this is now standard terminology, or if the New York Time has invented a new pastoral position description that we need to consider for the Book of Order (tongue firmly in cheek).

This is from the controversy around President-elect Obama’s choice to have Baptist pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren, give the invocation at the presidential inauguration.  The Times article begins with this:

President-elect Barack Obama this morning defended his choice of
evangelical megapastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at next
month’s swearing-in, saying that although he differs with the
conservative pastor on social issues, he wants to have diverse voices
at the ceremony.

So, what we have in Rick Warren is not a pastor of a megachurch, we have a megapastor.  So, if we are going to write this into the constitution, alongside pastor, designated pastor, associate pastor, etc., what are the requirements and qualifications?  Is it the size of the church, or the size of the shadow?  I’ll have to think about this.

Anyway, if you want to look at this controversy a bit more seriously, there is a nice wrap-up of several of the different news reports at GetReligion.

UPDATE 12-29-08:  I should have done my research first.  A quick check on Google reveals that the term “megapastor” has been around for at least a couple of years and while the term seems to get applied to the Rev. Warren the most, a few others (who you could probably guess) get the term applied to them by the mainstream media.  Writing popular books seems to be a common thread as well as having multi-thousands of attendees at your church.

The Twists And Turns Of Pursuing A Pastoral Call

I am a ruling elder, not a minister of word and sacrament, so I don’t have any of my own stories of pursuing a pastoral call as the candidate.  Having served on my presbytery’s committee on ministry, and been the COM liaison to several pastor nominating committees, I have stories from the other side.  But with the increase in blogging there are numerous first-hand accounts of candidacy and seeking a call.

Adam Copland is regularly writing about his experience in seminary and his progress towards a call and ordination in the PC(USA).  He has a monthly “Seminary Reflections” piece on Presbyterian Bloggers (Adam’s contributions from October, November, and December).  He usually also posts these on his own blog, A Wee Blether.  Beyond the Seminary Reflections series he has other posts on his blog regarding the process and situation, including a recent post about “The huge problem of the clergy shortage that doesn’t exist.”  In summary the PC(USA) has roughly twice as many clergy as churches and while the number of churches is declining, the number of clergy is stable.  For churches-seeking-clergy and clergy-seeking-churches, it is not really a pure supply/demand problem, but a distribution, affordability, and experience mis-match.  And don’t just read the article, keep reading the comments.

Another blogger who is just finishing seminary and has been keeping us updated on his journey is Benjamin Glaser who writes the blog Backwoods Presbyterian.  While his blog is usually very theologically oriented, there are good insights into his journey as a student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, also in Pittsburgh.  He is under care of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

I also enjoyed the account by “Danny” of her time as a probationer in the Church of Scotland and the task of “hunting a charge” in her blog “Rumors of Angels?”  There are more great stories in that blog than for any other candidate/inquirer/probationer I can think of.  One that I have bookmarked, and can totally see happening after my time on COM, is her story about doing a neutral pulpit at a church for one pastor search committee, and being a “small world,” another search committee that was considering her out caught word of it and showed up as well.  I can tell you a bunch of similar stories about confidentiality not being kept and news getting back to home churches and presbyteries before the candidate.  As Danny puts it:

I mentioned the difficulties with confidentiality previously … about
being discussed on the golf course… in shops… and via the ‘old
boy’s’ network. Well add the dentist to that list!

The church
where I was preaching (for reasons of confidentiality) did not know
until this morning that I would be preaching instead of their regular
minister, but one of their members overheard all the details of what
was going down last Tuesday while in the dentist’s waiting room… hey
ho! I felt quite sorry for the interim moderator who was doing it all
‘by the book’ and trying her best to look after the interests of ‘her’
nominating committee… meanwhile this second committee were discussing
me all over town.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well…
if nothing else you have to laugh… and so we did! For some reason the
thought of my being discussed in the dentist seems hilarious… surreal
even… when I go to the dentist I am too worried about potential pain
and discomfort… injections, drills and fillings… to talk to anyone.

While Danny has been successful, there are others who are not, and “Cavman” over at Cavman Considers has been between pastorates for a while and been giving us discrete glimpses of his search.  In a recent post he tabulates the churches that have rejected his application but are still without a pastor.  He concludes:

So, 5 churches think it’s better to not have a pastor than to have me
(and the other 50 applicants) as their pastor.  Interesting.

[With no judgment on Cavman’s situation, let me say that filling a pastoral position is not like filling a corporate position, it is a “God Thing,” a discernment process where both the search committee and the candidates are trying to sense the will of God and who He is calling to that position.  I can’t speak for any of Cavman’s rejections, but I have my own stories (from the other side) that I can and will share another time, about where I am certain God was, and was not, calling individuals to particular positions.]

And finally, if you think your candidates’ committee or denomination has unusual requirements, here is one that would keep a few pastors I know out of the pastorate.  I leave you with this:  A news item about the Mizoram Presbyterian Church‘s highest governing body, the Mizoram Synod.  In the meeting this week they have passed a requirement that:

“From now on someone who is tattooed will not be allowed to be ordained
as Probationary Pastors (of Mizoram Presbyterian Church).”

[For background, the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod is a constitutate member of the Presbyterian Church of India General Assembly.  Mizoram State is in the far northeast corner of India and through missionary work in the late 19th Century the population is predominantly Christian and the Presbyterian Church has a major influence.  Please keep praying for the violence in other parts of India where the Christians are a minority.]

The 400th Anniversary of the Birth Of John Milton

Another quick note for today…

I could not let the 400th anniversary of the birth of writer and poet John Milton earlier this week go by unrecognized.  While I have generally had little contact with Milton in the past, it is interesting that over the summer I began reading Paradise Lost, and this fall my son, for a literature class, had to read Paradise RegainedParadise Regained is significantly shorter than Paradise Lost. (There is probably a theological commentary in there somewhere about the sovereignty of God and how much the adversary and humans did to try to mess things up but how God, just through Jesus Christ, was able to set things right again.)

Anyway, if you want some interesting reading on John Milton and his impact I can recommend:

An interview about Milton with Milton scholar Leland Ryken from Wheaton.  He points out that Paradise Lost is of such an epic style of epic poetry that scholars have coined the label “the Miltonic style.”

And one other — Ligonier Ministries has a post about the significance of Paradise Lost and their discussing the topic in the December issue of their publication Table Talk.

And I have some motivation to pick up the book and continue reading over the Christmas vacation.

Technology has made the last minute even later

My posts to this blog have been a bit further apart this fall since I have been putting extra time into teaching.  And being a typical college professor, I’m not immune from waiting until the last minute on things.  Yesterday was the final exam for my class.  Exam was at 11:30 a.m.  I did a review of the test when I got into the office, started sending the one color figure to the color printer, and caught up on a bit of reading knowing that I had plenty of time to copy off the bulk of the exam.  What I did not count on was one of the department’s copiers being out of service.  When I started coping and discovered this at least I had just enough time to get it copied, assembled, and over to the exam room.  Barely.  Because of my taking technology for granted I was a bit rushed at the end, to say the least.

The effect of depending on technology and waiting until the last minute was even more pronounced today.  Next week is the biggest professional meeting of the year in my field.  I’m not going but part of my job is to help others get ready by helping them print out their poster presentations on a large format printer.  This used to be done as individual 8 1/2 x 11 pages with your text and figures tacked up on a bulletin board.  Now with large format printers you put it all on one 4′ x 6′  poster.  It makes setup and take down a lot easier at the meeting.

Well, because of the high percentage of the faculty and students in the department that go to the meeting we set up a schedule to use the printer.  When the schedule gets posted the latest times on Friday afternoon are the first ones to get claimed.  But there is now an alternative that allows you to put off the work even longer…  There is now a printing service at the meeting so if you have the cash you can wait even longer and get your poster printed just minutes before your session begins.  Not much more last minute than that.  I have had two other faculty members tell me today that they are not ready yet and someone else can have their printer times because they will print it at the meeting.

Coming in the middle of the Advent season I have thought of at least a dozen ways this could be a parable for our spiritual lives.  I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure some of these out for themselves.

But the other thing that this got me thinking about is technology in the church and how it has contributed to “instantaneous polity.”  For example, creating a Facebook group for your church — do you just do it, or run it by the session first.  Streaming or podcasting sermons — do you just do it, or is there some type of quality or content review to be sure it is appropriate for a world-wide audience.  Those of us that blog GA — I did the live blogging thing but afterwords I was pondering some questions of “what really did happen there?” because at the time my fingers were trying to keep up with the speaker’s comments and I was not always processing and analyzing as I went along.  And what about committee reports — with e-mail and word processors we are frequently putting the reports off to the last minute and reviewing and submitting them right before the meeting, because we can.

I have not been a big one for the “technology sabbath,” if for no other reason than Sunday afternoons are sometimes one of the few “empty” spots in my calendar, so I fill it up.  But my concern was raised recently when a medical study showed that children that grow up playing video games develop different neural pathways in their brains than those of us who did not grow up with video games.  Sorry, I have not found a link to that study yet, but I will point out that this week another study came out showing that video games help seniors keep their minds sharp.  Positives and negatives to any technology.

Anyway, some musings on the current trends in human response to technology.  I have made a commitment to continue the low level of blogging for the rest of December so that I can get some other reading done, spend time with family and not just in the same room as them, and think a bit about things.  See you next time.