February 28, 2011

Something to Make You Smile

Pastors' Good News/Bad News

Good News: You baptized seven people today in the river.
Bad News: You lost two of them in the swift current.

Good News: The Women's Guild voted to send you a get-well card.
Bad News: The vote passed by 31-30.

Good News: The Elder Board accepted your job description the way you wrote it.
Bad News: They were so inspired by it, they also formed a search committee to find somebody capable of filling the position.

Good News: Mrs. Jones is wild about your sermons.
Bad News: Mrs. Jones is also wild about the "Gong Show," "Beavis and Butthead," and "Texas Chain Saw Massacre."

Good News: Your women's softball team finally won a game.
Bad News: They beat your men's softball team.

Good News: The trustees finally voted to add more church parking.
Bad News: They are going to blacktop the front lawn of your parsonage.

Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks.
Bad News: You were on vacation.

Good News: Your biggest critic just left your church.
Bad News: He has been appointed the Head Bishop of your denomination.

Good News: The youth in your church come to your house for a surprise visit.
Bad News: It's in the middle of the night and they are armed with toilet paper and shaving cream to "decorate" your house.


Lake Junaluska
I remember very clearly the excitement Mike and I felt the night he was ordained Elder. Mike, had finished seminary at Duke and had one year of ministry under his belt. His life of ministry was beginning. Now, with his intended retirement slated for June 30, I find myself wanting time to stand still. I want to savor every second of these final months of his career as well as "my career" as a pastor's wife. Although I've always said, "I am Mike's wife first, then I am a pastor's wife," I didn't realize how much my heart was attached to the people in this last congregation.

There are a few ministries that I began at the church and others in which I participated, all of which brought me into contact with individuals who have become dear. I find myself dealing with sadness and grief -- something I really did not anticipate, but after nearly sixteen years in one church, I should have realized that moving on should be hard.

However, I have never moved on in quite this way before. There are so many decisions we have to make -- the biggest one for me being, "Where do I attend church?" I am hard pressed to decide on one United Methodist church since there are many outstanding churches close by. Those offering advice have ranged from telling me not to find a church for awhile; i.e., stay at home on Sunday morning, to finding a church in a different denomination. Then Mike told me repeatedly through the years that when he retired I could choose the church for us to attend. Now, he is saying, "We need to make this decision together," and I agree.

I think I like the old system better -- the church where I worship, is where my husband is employed. There is a lot to say for adapting to a church, making it your own and seeing how God can grow your life. The option of choosing a church, for me right now, seems a bit overwhelming. I like one ministry better at one church or another church emphases ministry to the poor, which I like -- and on and on. Websites are so helpful because they paint a picture of the church where I might want to invest myself.

So I go back to the way I've always lived my life -- trusting God to care for me and asking God to increase my faith because I know there is a church where we can connect, stay, and see how God will grow our lives' in this new phase of living.

God, I want to seek you always, I pray that you increase my faith and trust in you. Give me the wisdom and discernment I need to go where you want me to go. Amen.

Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana

February 24, 2011

Listening to Spouse Concerns

One of my frustrations during the past three years has been my inability to convince any of the conference staff (Indiana) of a need for a clergy spouse contact--where a spouse can share concerns (or joys). I've recently listened to several spouses who were dealing with issues related to appointment changes, very unfair treatment by a staff/parish committee, and lack of concern for significant health limitations. I also have had a few emails from spouses who just wanted to have someone listen to them.

I have done a lot of research on this topic and have models that other conferences use. I met on Tuesday with a district superintendent, who also happens to be a long-time friend. He offered me a seat on a monthly committee he has in his district that deals with pastoral concerns.

Finally, I will be able to put together a system where I can be available for those spouse who are struggling in some way.

I wonder if anyone has any suggestions about ways that have been effective to communicate with spouses?

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

February 23, 2011

From Bishop Mike Lowery's Blog

This is from Bishop Mike Lowery's blog. http://www.bishopmikelowry.com/2010/09/top-changes/

Leading Edge II
September 10, 2010
Last week I participate in a meeting of the “Leading Edge” group made up of the Senior Pastors of the 100 largest churches by worship attendance in the UMC in the U.S. I wrote about it in my earlier blog entitled “Leading Edge.” Out of that meeting came a number of actions worth prayerful consideration.
When asked what are the top changes needed in the UMC, the Senior Pastors noted the following six (in order). [Senior Pastors ranking is in bold; my comments are in italics.]

#1. Improve quality of church leadership – inspire passionate and effective leaders. This is the critical need! It is one of the four focus areas of the United Methodist Church. It will necessitate dramatic rethinking of what effective leadership looks like in the 21st century (i.e. a post-Christendom church).

#2. Simplify administrative structures of General Church – reduce apportionments. Amen! This will require both General Conference and Annual Conference action. It will also face deeply entrenched interests often protected by The Discipline.

#3. Develop a common message or clear theological message as UMC with a clear process of spiritual formation. Theological pluralism has led us to lose our Wesleyan roots. Recovering a vibrant Wesleyan Christian orthodoxy is a necessity. I see reason for real hope in this area. The Holy Spirit is blowing a fresh wind through us.

#4. Strengthen the role, authority, and leadership of the Bishops. Please note: This is what the Senior Pastors voted for! Everyone is in favor of bishops have greater authority and exercising more leadership as long as what we (bishops) do agrees with them. When our leadership and authority go in a different direction, we are often greeted with cries of “how dare you!”

#5. Local church pastors be positive, hopeful and encouraging to others in the denomination. This is a task that must be place squarely on the shoulders of local pastors. Holy Scripture commends us: “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” (I Peter 3:15-16)

#6. End guaranteed appointment. This will take General Conference action. It must be made with appropriate provisions for safe-guarding ethical imperatives. Sooner or later we will economically be forced to take this action.

Fellow Spouses, What do you think?

February 17, 2011

Consultation Time Again

Dear Friends, In our Conference DSs are busy meeting with pastors and churches in the consultation process. For those of you not familiar with the process, it's supposed to be a time when the DS listens and discusses career opportunities from the Cabinet's side with pastors and, in separate meetings, listens to churches' concerns. Naturally, the process reflects the gifts and graces of all involved. In other words, some DSs listen well and others don't. Some pastors are more forthcoming than others. Some churches just gripe and others get the short end of the stick.

There was also a time when the spouse could also attend, as least in the meeting just with the pastor, but I never have. I figure it's private and my spouse will fill me in later anyway.

But, bottom line, I'm not sure if the process makes any difference. While I don't exactly feel like a pawn, I feel we (pastors and families) have less voice than we once did. The Cabinets just seem reactive and fearful of getting fewer apportionments.

If churches seem to have less respect for pastoral authority, it seems that Cabinets have even less. This grieves me to say this, because most of the DSs (and spouses) are our friends.

How does the consultation process work in your conference? In your opinion does it work? Is it a good thing? Might there be a better way? Please let us know.

Grace, Kathy
Clarksville, TN

February 3, 2011

Valentine's Day

I don't know about you, but I love Valentine's Day. And each year at our church the youth do a mission fund-raising Valentine's Day dinner. While the meal is over-priced, the cost is well worth it. It's a big dress up affair too. The hall is decorated to the max with candles and the youth dress formally to serve the tables. We've shared a table with some of the parents at this event, and it is so fun to see their youth serve them. Yes, the same youth that has to be nagged to help load the dishwasher at home, professionally serve, clear, and clean-up after their parents here.

As we all know the church is the Body of Christ; but each year at this dinner I see us faithfully practicing being a healthy Body--youth, parents--everyone.

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day wherever you choose to spend it.