Talking Holy Spokes with Rev. Laura Everett

In this episode, I meet Laura Everett, author of Holy Spokes. We talk about her book launch party, Norwegian weather and bicycling in Boston.

Launch Party is April 21 6-9 pm at the Dorchester Brewing Company

Buy her book Holy Spokes

Bowdoin Bike School
Rev. Laura's Blog

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7 Mistakes During an Interim via Thom Rainer is a source of good church info.  I subscribe to his email.  This was today's and I thought I'd share it with you.

Seven Common Mistakes Churches Make When They Have an Interim Pastor

“Interim” sounds like a pregnant pause anticipating something down the road.

So when you put the adjective in front of “pastor” or “church,” it just feels like less than ideal.

It does not have to be that way. The interim period between two pastors can be a time of great benefit for churches. It is for that reason I encourage churches not to make mistakes common during this interim time. Here are seven of them:

  1. The church moves into a maintenance mode. To be sure, there are decisions and actions that need to be postponed until the new pastor gets on board. But neither the Great Commission nor the Great Commandment takes a vacation. There is still much work to be done. 
  2. The church allows the interim pastor to be a candidate for pastor. I know. I will get some pushback here. But I have seen so many disasters befall a church when the person in the interim pulpit gets favored status. The downside outweighs the benefits. 
  3. The process of finding a pastor becomes a “beauty contest.” Several candidates are paraded before the church or key groups in the church. Factions decide their favorite candidate. Tensions grow. Consider instead dealing with one or a very few candidates at a time. 
  4. The search process is handled poorly. To be fair, most church members and leaders have never been a part of a search process. They are doing the best they know how. Over the past several years, I have become a strong proponent of getting outside expertise and help. As William Vanderbloemen said on one of our podcasts, “The worst hire a church can make is the wrong hire.” 
  5. The church leaves personnel problems for the next pastor to handle. Don’t neglect making the tough decisions. If you delay these decisions, you are already setting up your next pastor to have problems and enemies at the onset. 
  6. The church fails to deal with sacred cows. Like the personnel issues noted above, don’t set up the next pastor for failure. If there are some sensitive issues to handle, do it during the interim period. Don’t wait. 
  7. The church fills key staff positions in the interim period. If at all possible, let the next pastor have an influential role in choosing staff members who will be a part of the leadership team. It is a much better alternative than moving forward and leaving the pastor with no say in one of the most important aspects of ministry. 

Simply stated, the interim period is a time of opportunity, not just a time of waiting. Make the right decisions and the church will be stronger in the near term and for years to come.

Sabbatical at Midpoint

I'm a tad beyond the midpoint of this sabbatical.  Refreshed and renewed, here are some random thoughts:

- Reading widely and broadly everything thing Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie to DT Suzuki's Introduction to Zen, plus Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, the blogs of Tyler Cowen and the Minimalists.

- I'm now at nearly Six months of regular morning meditation and Psalms.  It's a daily 15 minute pause after waking.  I meditate for 10 minutes, read one of the Psalms and pray for a person/place or three.  Eugene Peterson's translation of the Psalms along with the app Headspace have been helpful tools.

- Selectively reading newspaper's and journal's in an attempt to understand what is happening in our society/world.  Trump, nationalism, racism and economic dislocation.

- Hiking and Cycling in various locals.

- Eating the earth, especially the bounty that is yielded forth in this vally in Ojai where vegetables and fruits are plentiful.

I have no particular wisdom to share at this point.  It's all being digested.  I'm keenly aware of some changes I need to make, and am already making. I've observed several of my bishop colleagues needing to step away from this office.  Two this year have decided to return to the parish.  In the last four and a half yers I've watched a few others self destruct, and four choose not to run for a second term.  This has a sobering affect on you, especially for me as I enter my fifth year, turning 58, becoming a grandfather.  You start to ask different questions about life and work.  How do I want to spend my time?  Where can I make a difference?  What's most important.  These are question I continue to mull over as I move through this sabbatical.

The daily photo blogging has continued on instagram, you can follow me there.  I'll post here as I am moved.  I plan to regularly post to this blog upon return from this sabbatical, which concludes March 31.

La La gets headline but Coltrane stole the night

Today, Lisa and I ventured to Santa Barbara, where unbeknownest to us was hosting it's annual International Film Festival.  We found ourselves in the crowds, and saw the headline appearance at the Arlington theatre. But five blocks down at another theatre, we were able to attend a screening of "Chasing Trane" a documentary abut Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.  The director gave a talk, did a Q & A, and we enjoyed a delightful and, I might add, highly spiritual film.

Joining other Faith Leaders

As many of you know, I am currently on sabbatical until April 1.  However, because of the urgency of the crisis around religious freedom, I temporarily stepped out of sabbatical and joined with the other faith leaders in Rhode Island to sign this letter.  Here is the link to the announcement by my colleague Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island.  Below is the content of the letter, which can also be found here.

I also urge you to contact your Congressional Leaders by calling 1-866-940-2439

Dear President Trump and Members of Congress,

As religious leaders from a variety of backgrounds, we are called by our sacred texts and faith traditions to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. War, conflict and persecution have forced people to leave their homes, creating more refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people than at any other time in history. More than 65 million people are currently displaced – the largest number in recorded history.

This nation has an urgent moral responsibility to receive refugees and asylum seekers who are in dire need of safety. Today, with more than five million Syrian refugees fleeing violence and persecution and hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, the United States has an ethical obligation as a world leader to reduce this suffering and generously welcome Syrian refugees into our country. We call on the Trump Administration and all members of the U.S. Congress to demonstrate moral leadership and affirm their support for the resettlement of refugees from all over the world to the United States. This nation has a rich history as a leader in refugee resettlement, with significant precedent, including after World War II and after the fall of Saigon, when we resettled hundreds of thousands of refugees.

It is important to recognize that the United States has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, involving the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Counter Terrorism Center. The process includes biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic testing of documents, DNA testing for family reunification cases, and in-person interviews with highly trained homeland security officials.

The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been and should remain open to those of all nationalities and religions who face persecution on account of the reasons enumerated under U.S. law. We oppose any policy change that would prevent refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, or individuals who practice Islam and other faiths from accessing the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Proposals that would have the U.S. State Department disqualify refugees from protection based on their nationality or religion fly in the face of the very principles this nation was built upon, contradict the legacy of leadership our country has historically demonstrated, and dishonor our shared humanity.

As the United States joins the world in seeking ways to meaningfully respond to the global refugee crisis, it is paramount that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program stay true to its mandate to resettle the most vulnerable. Vulnerable individuals from a host of religions, ethnicities and backgrounds have been and should continue to be resettled in the United States.

Together, representing our various faiths, we decry derogatory language that has been used about Middle Eastern refugees and our Muslim friends and neighbors. Inflammatory rhetoric has no place in our response to this humanitarian crisis. We ask our elected officials and candidates for office to recognize that new Americans of all faiths and backgrounds contribute to our economy, our community, and our congregations. Refugees are an asset to this country. They are powerful ambassadors of the American Dream and our nation’s founding principles of equal opportunity, religious freedom, and liberty and justice for all.

As people of faith, our values call us to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion. We pray that in your discernment, compassion for the plight of refugees will touch your hearts. We urge you to be bold in choosing moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection.