Reflections: Truly ‘coming together’ on a Christmas morning

I have known her since she was 5 years old. Last summer Judy, her husband and children visited us from a western state where they now live. I had not seen her since serving as a pallbearer at her father’s funeral several years ago. She and one of my daughters, who began school together and […]

Reflections: How I learned the true power of church polity

It was a lesson in Methodist polity that I still remember in surprising detail. It took place in November 1963. On a late Saturday afternoon, I was seated in the parsonage of a pastor whose worship service I planned to attend the following Sunday morning. I and two other companions wanted to meet the pastor […]

Reflections: Thanksgiving 2012 – Sandy casts shadow

Very soon, families will gather across the country for the observance of Thanksgiving Day. Over time, the celebration has taken on practices of both religious and secular significance. This duality is manifested in my own memories of Thanksgiving, whether from recent years or long ago. Food, family, worship and football are the primary elements. Growing […]

Reflections: Pets aren’t just blessed—they’re also a blessing

I took my dog, Buddy, to church recently! Buddy, is our 9-year-old family companion, a gift from a daughter. I must admit, I did not want another dog; we had a dog all the years our children were growing up. Our last one, Lady, was a big, beautiful, adorable collie. But I had had enough […]

Reflections: A simple nightmare—or a church yet to come?

There is nothing quite like an early summer storm. We thought the rain would never end. My wife and I talked late into the night with the rain pounding against our bedroom window. For some reason our late-night conversation turned to the recent General Conference. The conference has become a quadrennial rhythm of our married […]

Reflections: Troubled visitor deepens worship

I was recently in a worship service when the solemnity of the moment was unexpectedly interrupted. A young woman entered the sanctuary and, with the service well underway, walked down the long aisle and took a seat near the front. It was impossible not to see her. As she joined other worshippers seated on the […]

Reflections: Coming to church should never be a waste of time

It was a comment that I shall never forget. I was in a cabinet meeting, and one of the district superintendents was reporting on a recent meeting with a congregation’s pastor-parish relations committee. The congregation was to receive a new pastor and this was a meeting to assess the congregation’s needs and its current identified […]

Reflections: A word to pastors serving in their first appointments

With fall comes the return of students to school and the end of summer vacations, but also the practical beginning of new pastoral appointments made at spring annual conferences. Among the clergy are those serving their first appointments following seminary graduation. I remember the excitement and anxiety of my first appointment fresh out of seminary. […]