June 29, 2011

Life Is not the Hightest Good

Dear Friends, While I truly believe that Christians should participate in their government, it makes me nervous when I see people proclaiming the Christian platform, the Christian political view, the Christian political party. This is probably because my views do not necessarily coincide with those of the "Christian Right," whatever that really means.

For most things, I do tend to be evangelical and conservative, but I am also pro-choice. And here is why. We seem to have forgotten in the past, but many girls died because of back-alley abortions. Should they have chosen to continue their unwanted or unsafe pregnancy? That is a different question. But in our civilized society, it is lawful to defend oneself even if it means killing. The right to self-defense is a cornerstone of our rule of law. And I can't help but believe that God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, and understands our motives. God gave us the instinct for self-preservation after all.

I won't even go into the issues surrounding when life begins. And I realize that my view is unpopular in many places. But I also see a growing insistence that life is always the right answer. Please know that in the Bible, life is not the highest good. The highest good is always God.

Sure, I'm for life; but I am also for freedom of choice. But even if someone chooses wrong or unwisely, that is their responsibility. And I think we can all agree that as a society, we want to promote that.

Grace, Kathy

June 22, 2011

Indiana Annual Conference Highlights

The Indiana Conference ended on June 11th with a beautiful service for those commissioned and those ordained deacon and elder. Mike participated in the elder ordination of Matt Swisher. Matt and his family were part of a church Mike pastored from 1983 to 1989. Matt was three when we first met him. When he decided to become a pastor, we followed his career with special interest. Each person preparing for ordination is assigned a mentor. Matt chose Mike and for the past three years, and they met monthly, talking and sharing whatever Matt needed to discuss. We celebrated the joyous occasion with Matt, his wife Katie, and lots of family from both sides.

Another moment of personal joy, was when the conference introduced and honored those pastors retiring. Each pastor and spouse were seated on the stage. We were introduced and then led down one of two aisles in the vast auditorium. As we were in the aisle, everyone gathered, about 1200 people, stood and clapped for what seemed like forever. Both of us cried as we received this expression of appreciation.

Mike has already had several pastors ask him to preach and fill the pulpit during vacations and other times away. He is also going to work part-time at the YMCA where we work out daily. Although we have found a new church, I am still having difficulty leaving a church that has been home to me for fifteen years. I am depending on God to give me insight and vision for the future.

God, thank you for the joys and challenges of Mike's 39 years of ministry. We have learned from all types of experiences for we knew that you are in everything that happens. Guide our paths in a new way of ministry in your name. Amen.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers Indiana

June 21, 2011

The World Is God's Parish

Dear Friends, One of the joys of having a blog is being able to see who visits. It's not that you can tell the name or address of the actual visitor, that would violate privacy, but you can tell from what geographic region page viewers hail from. You might be interested to know that we have U.S. viewers but also visitors from Russia, India, France, Iran, China, Philippines, and some other countries.

So to these international folks, welcome. And we invite you to email us at spouseconnect@gmail.com if you'd like to contact us or write a post. I'm sure we would like to hear about ministry in your setting.

We each have an important Christian witness to share. And we are all members of the Body of Christ. So please let us hear from you. As usual, you can use your name or write anonymously.


June 18, 2011

You Just Never Can Tell

When my husband and I started out in ministry and I was still the youth director's girl friend, we worked (He was paid; I was strictly the volunteer help)at an urban church in a major city. The neighborhood was rough but loaded with kids. In fact the police told us that on those Friday nights when the church held its weekly teen dance, the crime rate was nil. And when one boy was asked why he could run so fast and jump so high, he said he kept in shape running from the cops.

While I have many fond memories of those times, I often wondered if we really made a difference. Were all those youth trips, prayer times, and visits to juvenile hall worth it? That is until through FaceBook one of those "youth" contacted us. It seems that she and a friend were coming to town for an event. Could we all get together? We found a time and met last week.

It was great to see her and we spent an hour reliving and revisiting. As we caught up, it became clear that yes, we had made a difference, at least to her. But of all the kids we hauled in our car and tried to nurture in the faith, I would not have thought she would have followed-up after all these years. I guess you just never know how God uses you. And I hope that all those kids know that I'd do it again gladly.

Grace, Kathy

June 17, 2011

Annual Conference Report

Dear Friends, I'm just back from our Annual Conference. On the whole, it was a dismal affair and I left feeling rather sad. Naturally, it was great to see friends, colleagues, and former parishioners. And at the Ministers Mates' Lunch it was fun to connect with old friends and meet some new folks.

But as far as the business is concerned, the news was not so good. And we are a growing conference. We did elect delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences, and some of them will represent us well. But the politics of getting elected far overshadowed who was elected. On the lay side, the delegates were largely folks with experience with at least one young adult, who also happens to be a clergy spouse. On the clergy side, the young women clergy came in very organized and pretty much had their way. All that is fine, but with one or two exceptions the clergy delegation is totally inexperienced. And there were no delegates over 50, save one, who was our bishop candidate last time around. No DSs or conference staff were elected. I'm not sure what that says about our current leadership.

Perhaps this bodes well for the church. But I believe we are still too focused on what is politically correct. Guess I also feel a little passed over too. Still no sour grapes. It is God's church after all and God has a plan. I just wish I could feel better about the whole thing.

Grace, Kathy

June 7, 2011

Is General Conference Important?

Dear Friends, I guess many of you have heard that this next General Conference in Spring, 2012, may be the most important Conference we've had as a church since we became The United Methodist Church in 1968. All kinds of things might happen. For example, pastors may lose their guaranteed appointments, the general boards and agencies may be eliminated or, at least, merged.

But I am also aware that my local church doesn't know anything about General Conference and probably cares less.

How is it where you are. What issues do you see as important? I would really like to know your opinion.

Thanks for your help,


June 5, 2011

How Connected Do We Need to Be?

So how many friends do you have on Facebook? LinkedIn? MySpace? Just how many friends do we need anyway?

Just saw a review of a new book by Robin Dunbar, How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks(Harvard University Press, 2010. 312 pp.). I was feeling pretty bad about myself. However it seems that I'm pretty much like most everyone else. According to Dunbar, the most close friends we can stand is 3-4. Yes, stand. Dunbar gives reasons based on evolutionary psychology. My thinking is based only on my experience--3 or 4 is all I possibly have time for.

In these times, with family, work, church, community activities, I really don't have time to be as good a friend as I want to be to anyone. Just today, I decided to turn over a new leaf and stop complaining that I have too little time, so I called a friend and set up a dinner for next week.

Yesterday, I attended a wedding and was amazed that the newlyweds had both grown up in the same city and will continue to live here. Both families are respected in our community and are known by lots of people here. I have to admit, I was a little envious. We've lived in lots of places and our daughters made friends all over, but I always feared that they would not have a sense of rootedness.

Moving also effected my efforts to stay in close touch with good friends over the years. We all have good intentions, but long-distance friendships are tough to maintain. So I hope you take advantage of social networks, blogs, as well as opportunities even at Annual Conference.

Have about you? How connected to friends are you and how connected do you need to be?

Grace, Kathy
Clarksville, TN

June 2, 2011

Passing the Stole

My husband, Mike's, last Sunday before retirement is June 26th. The next Sunday, July 3, he and the new pastor will participate in a unique ritual. Mike, at each of the four services, will "pass a stole" to the two new pastors. The church owns a set of green stoles, so Mike, to symbolize the change in leadership, will place a stole on the shoulders of each pastor.

Usually such an exchange is not possible because the old pastor has moved on to a new church in a new town. The congregation, will witness Mike's blessing of the new ministers coming to care for the flock whom he loved so dearly for fifteen years.

God, thank you for the cooperative way that change can occur in your name. Bless all of those who are moving to serve new churches. Guide those who are retiring or taking a leave of absence. Thank you for the opportunity that all of us have to care for those in the kingdom.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana