February 22, 2012

Ashes on the Go?!

I was listening to the local news this morning on NPR and heard, "Ashes on the go tomorrow on the circle."

"What in the world? Ashes on the go?" I thought.

I got on the church's website and here is what I discovered. There is a large circle in downtown Indianapolis. Businesses, a few restaurants, and a hotel surround the circle, as well as a large Episcopal Church. Here is the invitation on the Christ Church Cathedral website: "No time for Ash Wednesday services? Come by the circle and a priest will impose ashes. Passersby, downtown workers, visiting guests from out of town, and the spiritually curious are welcome to receive ashes at these times: 7:30-9:00 am;11 am-1 pm; 4-5:30 pm."

Is offering "ashes on the go" to those who are "spiritually curious or just walking by the church" demeaning to a very sacred day beginning forty days of preparation for Easter or just a way to meet the spiritual needs of a very busy society?

What are your thoughts?

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

February 21, 2012

The United Methodist Way Resource

Friends, If you are looking for an excellent resource to help folks understand our United Methodist flavor of Christianity, check out a resource from the General Board of Discipleship.

It's called The United Methodist Way: Faith Working Through Love. This user-friendly 20-minute Flash presentation shows how following Wesley's rules in doctrine and practice leads to transformed lives that will change our world. I got my copy for free at a recent event, so I assume that you can get one for free as well. The content was written by Dr. Randy Maddox (author of Responsible Grace).

To get a copy contact Steve Manskar (smanskar@gbod.org). He also had a hand in the production.

This resource will work to introduce United Methodism to seekers, or new or long-time members.


February 15, 2012

The "Abortion Pill" Lie

This is a reprinted article from Religious Dispatches by Sarah Posner.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in their ever-shifting rationale for opposing the contraceptive coverage requirement, now claim "forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether."

Various religious right and anti-choice groups are making the same argument. A group of religious right groups has filed an amicus brief in the case before the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, to add the argument that "the recent regulatory decision by HHS to force virtually all employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs will force many religious individuals and organizations into a choice to either violate their religion or pay exorbitant penalties that could put them out of business." (emphasis added). This argument echoes that made in the cases brought by Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian College, and the Eternal Word Network against the Department of Health and Human Services over the new contraception coverage rule.

The claim that the contraceptive coverage rule includes abortifacients is simply not true. Ella and Plan B, which are covered along with other contraception, are taken after unprotected sex to prevent an unintended pregnancy from occurring. They are not abortifacients. The FDA does not classify them abortifacients. Here's how the Mayo Clinic explains the difference (emphasis added):

Keep in mind that the morning-after pill isn't the same as mifepristone (Mifeprex), also known as RU-486 or the abortion pill. The morning-after pill can prevent pregnancy. If you're already pregnant when you take the morning-after pill, the treatment will be ineffective and won't harm the developing baby. The abortion pill terminates an established pregnancy — one in which the fertilized egg has attached to the uterine wall and has already begun to develop.

If the FDA started using the Bishops' pseudo-science to classify drugs, that would be . . . . well, exactly what the Bishops want: the law to be based on their religious beliefs. And that would be an unconstitutional infringement of everyone else's rights.

To see more, go to:

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

They will know we are Christians by our love. I certainly hope so.

Clergy marriages are just like other people's. Some are strong and thriving. Some are floudering and falling apart. Some are supportive and some are abusive. Some are a little of all of these things. But whatever the state of your marriage, I hope you take time today and do something special together. I hope you set aside some time for just the two of you.

When we had little kids, it was especially hard to steal away time for just the two of us. And as we know, the church can act like a jealous mistress with many unreasonable and constant demands. So my prayer for you this Valentine's Day is that you both turn off your phones and committ to spend some time together. You don't want to end up like some couples I know, who, when the kids moved away, have nothing to say to each other.

My husband and I are going out to dinner and I am really looking forward to it.

Blessings on you and your marriage.

February 10, 2012

Do Motives Matter if You're Doing Good?

A recent article in Christianity Today posed this question: Does motive matter if a ministry is doing good deeds? And you might expect there was a range of response from Daniel Akin's (Pres. of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) "yes" to John Schmalzbauer's (Prof. at Missouri State U.) "no."

Perhaps it just depends on what ministry is trying to accomplish. If you are trying to show the love of God by whacking someone over the head, that's probably a bad idea all around. If you save someone from an on-coming train, why you did it may not matter at all.

But what if that is the wrong question? God can work even through us even with our motives good and bad. And after all, aren't our motives mixed most of the time anyway? What if the question was: In whatever we do, are we letting God's will be done? But that can also lead us down a thorny path of theological intrigue.

Perhaps the best we can do is love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength; be in a grace-infused community of believers--hopefully that is a church; and trust God for the rest.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Grace, Kathy

February 6, 2012

Boundaries: What Do You Do?

Last week I was talking with a friend, whose husband is a pastor. She explained a situation with someone at her church, which left her feeling uncomfortable and perplexed. She described how a leader in the church, comes to her, places his hands on her shoulders and massages gently. He does this with other women too. She does not know if she should say anything to this man--she fears angering him--with possible repercussion to her husband, in a fairly recent appointment.

Interestingly, I had a similar experience a few days ago. I was a presenter at a district event. I entered the church, and was talking to a few people in the hallway. The pastor of the church, whom I do not know, came to me, wrapped his arms around me, got right in my face, and said, 'Can I help you find your room?' I was astonished. I stepped away quickly from his "embrace" and said,"No I know where to go."

Maintaining appropriate boundaries in a church can be very delicate for a pastor/spouse/family and a congregation.

How do others handle such situations?

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana