Gifts and blessings

On my (still hotly contested) previous post about clergy who have lost their faith, I listed some of what I believe. I was simply trying to get it out, lest anyone think that I reject supposed orthodoxy and hold nothing in its place. But at least one reader found it lyrical, and broke it into poetic lines, and then sent it to me. The week of Easter. I can’t tell you how big a blessing that was, to receive such a lovely gift from across the country, and to read my own words reflected back as poetry or song. Many, many thanks.

This I believe (by Becca Clark, ‘remixed’ by Dave and Nan R., readers from Michigan)

I believe
God is
Transcendent and immanent,
Ground and Source of all Being;
We are in God as a sponge is in the sea.
I believe
the Bible is the story
of humanity’s relationship with God,
filled with truth and beauty
and adventure and sacrifice
and chaos and anger
and doubt and triumph,
and that this story is true,
regardless of whether it is factual.
I believe
that Jesus was,
more than any other wise prophet or old soul,
one and the same with that Divine,
that to see him was to see God,
to live the Way he taught is to live God’s Way.
I believe
that the consequence
of confronting power and corruption
and violence and domination,
the cost of articulating God’s vision
in the face of humanity’s greed
is deadly.
I believe
that the life and love of God,
and God in Christ,
and now God in us as we are in Christ,
is yet more powerful
than the deadly force of Empire
and fear and greed and corruption.

I believe
such life and love is eternal,
and so Christ was and is alive beyond death.
I believe that this Divine One,
this God, is present with us even now,
that we feel movement
through Spirit and in community,
that we are still called to be
and build
and participate in
a new way of being and living,
God’s realm, come to earth.
I believe
we are invited to make this new Way,
together with God,
and live as a people connected
to God,
to one another,
to all of life,
When that happens,
we will see face to face,
we will live as the Body of Christ,
fully restored.
We will see the fulfillment
of all that needs to be.

Nerd-alert WIN.

Here’s how you empower kids to learn and be proud of being smart. And girls? Kids from ethnic minorities? For the win.

found here: All the Scholar Ladies!

or at You Tube.

(Can anyone tell my why in the world I can never embed YouTube in WordPress? Anyone?)

I’m not ready to *not* make nice…

Howdy, y’all, from down here in Nashville! I’m attending the United Methodist Association of Communicators’ Annual Meeting (about which I will say more later), where this blog, that’s right, this very one, has been awarded Best in Class for non-fiction in the local church category.

No pressure there.

BishopSpong2So, on to being relevant. Today, my inbox was overrun by emails and celebrations about Bishop John Shelby Spong’s Manifesto (linked at the Reconciling Ministries Network). In it, he lifts celebration that “the time has come” to move on from the battle about homosexuality. Bishop Spong writes that he believes the battle is won, and that he will waste no further time in debate on the matter:

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I feel this way a lot. As I wrote earlier, I wrestled greatly with how to respond to extreme positions like those of the Westboro Baptist Church, and I decided in the end that ignoring violent language and hate speech was not something with which I could live. Still, I resonate with the idea that some arguments are not worth the waste of breath, or the anger and bitterness they generate in me. When I find that I am becoming more negative and bitter as a result of a conversation or debate, it’s time to walk away. Actually, it’s past the time to walk away. I frequently give myself sanity breaks from such debates on the umcommunities website for that precise reason. It’s not worth the breath. It’s not worth the poison that seeps into me in the course of the debate. It’s not worth it–never worth it– when I feel more distant from God as a result of a conversation.

In this matter, I do think the handwriting is largely on the wall, and that Bishop Spong is right when he says that we as church are only making ourselves more irrelevant by our continued focus on sexuality rather than on ministry:

The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied.

He is right, and as a church we certainly do great harm to ourselves, not to mention to the witness of Christ, by fixating on sexuality and sexual orientation.

But I push back on two points:

First, while the tide may have turned, that doesn’t mean a battle is over. In this instance, I’m not yet prepared to walk away and dismiss anyone’s words as outdated or irrelevant or as the death throes of a position. They are still hurtful words and positions that I think must be countered. If the battle is over, there is many a GLBT person in my pews who doesn’t know it yet, and until they can let words roll off their back like water, I’m not prepared to ignore them– the words or the ones wounded by them– either. While I applaud Bishop Spong’s optimism, I don’t want to (totally mixing metaphors here!) declare ‘mission accomplished’ and pull out, leaving troops still in the trenches to be wounded and maimed.

Second, I maintain that there are many people out there, even a majority of people out there, whose positions about homosexuality in the church differ from mine, who are faithful Christians to the best of their ability and to the best of their understanding. I resent it when my opponents in a debate disregard me as “unchristian” or “liberal whacko” or whatever, rather than have to live together in difference with me. I can’t in good conscience do the same, disregarding not only their positions, but their theological frameworks, their gifts to the ministry of the church, and their human struggle to understand and serve Christ as best they can. To do so is in a way to deny the Christ in them, however hard it may be at times to see it, just as I’m sure it is sometimes hard to see the Christ in me.

Debate is, I’ll admit, fun and challenging, and often helps clarify one’s own point, but it can also be a forum for relationship growth and reaching out across differences. Wrestling together with our differences, even and especially such stark and emotionally charged ones, can in fact be a huge opportunity to grow and change. And while I’m not naive (or, I hope, arrogant) enough to assume that I can change the hearts and minds of the world, I do kind of have persuasive rhetorical speech as part of my job description, and I do therefore harbor a hope that some positive change might come from conversations I have with others. Like Jacob, wrestling with an angel in the night, we grapple with each other in the dark, each a wanderer, each an angel, and I for one don’t want to let you go until we both receive blessing.

There are some things about which I cannot compromise, and some places where I am not open to changing my mind. I cannot abide violence. I will not compromise with hate speech. I can’t imagine conceding that anything made and beloved by God is abhorrent. I reserve the right and the need to walk away from poison and mutually assured destruction in argument. I also want to declare the joy of living in the already-not-yet promise of God’s kin-dom of radical love. It’s here, in part and in glimpses! The snippets of grace and glimpses of living together in the tension of our differences, when they shine through, are enough to keep me hopeful and focused on the joy.

And yet, I still wade into the battle, to the wrestling match, because the ones with whom I wrestle are often sisters and brothers, are sometimes angels, can teach and transform me even as I hope to teach and transform them. I’m not ready to give up on them just yet.

Sometimes God speaks by slapping you upside the head.

When I wrote earlier about hearing the call to ministry, a few people asked about the specific moment itself. I tend not to talk about it too much, not only because people look at you funny if you say you hear voices in your head, but because sometimes it’s discouraging to people who don’t have a call story with voices or flashes of light or burning bushes. I want to emphasize that many if not most of the pastors I know do not have stories like this– they realized that they were called the same way someone realizes they want to be a doctor or a teacher or a farmer. Having a call story with voices and light and burning bushes doesn’t mean we’re more called; in fact, it probably just means we’re more dense, God had to resort to getting our attention by slapping us upside the back of the head.

(The following is a near-transcription of a sermon I preached about my call)

It was a Tuesday night, Mardi Gras, my freshman year in college. I was studying to be a teacher, because that’s what I wanted to be. In particular, I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I wanted to teach Shakespeare, because you see, you have this really old text, and yet the words are still so beautiful and powerful; the ideas still shape us and tell us about who we are, and when you read it you come to a deeper appreciation of the author, a brilliant and profound thinker. I imagined I’d have a semi-captive audience of high school students and their eyes would light up as I’d read them this old text, and together we’d explore how it still touches us and shapes us today.

I was taking Introduction to Education, which I am convinced is designed to weed out people like myself who shouldn’t be teachers, or to make sure that those who want to be teachers want it enough to make it through the class, because it was the most boring, anti-learning course I’ve ever taken. And so this Mardi Gras night, even though the next day the professor was probably going to read the textbook to us aloud in class, I was reading the textbook. And I had read the same sentence a dozen times, and it wasn’t sinking in.

It was getting late, and I was getting desperate. I thought if I could just picture my vision, my dream, that would be the impetus I’d need to finish my homework and go to bed, it would motivate me enough that I could finish reading and get some sleep. So I closed my eyes and I pictured myself in my classroom, with my Complete Works of Shakespeare textbook and my captive audience of high school students and them getting excited about the old text and… it did absolutely nothing for me.

I had this moment of sheer terror. This was what I was supposed to do with my life and now it didn’t inspire me. What am I going to do, who am I going to be?

And then–I won’t call it a voice, because I didn’t hear it. It was a thought. And the thought kind of scrolled across the back of my mind the way text scrolls across a marquee sign in a bus station. And the thought said, and I quote directly, no dummy—not the last time God’s called me a dummy, but the way—no, dummy, you heard wrong. I didn’t say teacher, I said preacher. Picture yourself as a preacher.

Now it was late and I was desperate and I wanted to get my homework done so I thought I’d try anything, and so I did it; I pictured myself as a preacher. In some ways it was familiar. I pictured an old text, and yet the words are so powerful, so beautiful, the ideas in it so important that they shape our lives now in our very hearts and souls and who we are meant to be. And when we read it, we learn about the incredible Author of such a work. I pictured my semi-captive audience whose eyes sometimes do light up as we together discover again and again how these words speak to us and how they shape us today and that the Author who wrote and inspired them, that Author’s love for us and for creation have no limit.

That was what I pictured. It was the most exciting, most inspiring thing I had ever imagined for myself. It had so much purpose, it felt so right and I thought what a great idea I just had! And then I thought where *did* that idea come from? I spent the rest of that Mardi Gras night alternating between arguing– Wait a sec, I know you’re omniscient and all but it’s a small dorm room and an easy mistake to make. I think you meant my roommate; she goes to church a lot and does that clapping and hand-waving thing a lot, and I haven’t been to church in a while now. I tried to read the bible when I was in high school and got stuck in Deuteronomy and haven’t opened it since. And then on the other hand just laughing hysterically, which wasn’t particularly odd behavior for Mardi Gras night.

The next day was Ash Wednesday, and I gave up Catholicism for lent, which is a good punch line, but was actually true and a hard decision I had to make, because that was how I knew how to be spiritual in my life, and the thing that I’d imagined was not going to be possible within the Roman Catholic Church. So I had to go find a place that would let me do what I had imagined.

In the weeks and months and years that followed and are still following, I learned something: that evening was not when I was called by God. That was when God got my attention, because I can be kind of a dummy sometimes, and I needed a moment of vision to get it into my head. But in fact this had been my gift and calling and passion my entire life. Every time I took one of those tests in high school that tell you what you’re supposed to be when you grow up, they would always flip back and forth, but the first two answers were always lawyer and pastor, and I thought I was too moral for the first and not moral enough for the second, so let’s go for choice three, which was teacher. Never realizing that all three were about taking an older text—the bible, the constitution, Shakespearean literature, interpreting it, studying it, explaining it to people persuasively and with excitement, and helping them see its relevance and beauty, helping them see it in a new light— all of that was pointing to a skill set that I have and was being called to use for God’s work. Never realizing or putting together that I had always loved church, my whole life, even after my family stopped attending following my parents’ divorce.

052-callingThat summer after I’d begun to take that seriously, I was home and I came across this picture. This is not my daughter, although I can understand the confusion. This is me, and I’m about Arianna’s age, and I’m playing my favorite game. I’m wearing my nightgown with my bathrobe over it. I’ve taken a piece of bread from the kitchen and squashed it flat (because we were Catholic and Catholics use those wafers for communion). Sometimes I would take the cup from the bathroom, not pictured here, and I would fill it with grape juice (because I was a good Methodist even then), and I would serve communion to my stuffed animals. I would pretend that I was a priest, and that was my favorite game when I was four.

This is my Jeremiah 1 picture; before you were born I called you, and I keep it on my desk in my office to remind me that while it might have taken me a while to get it through my head, this is what I’m called to do, and what I was called to do my entire life. That’s what I know, what’s familiar to me, that’s the gift and the passion and the joy that I have and am called to use in God’s service.

And it reminds me that we all have that, we all have gifts and passions and talents, and we are called to use them for God’s service. Your vocation, says Frederick Buechner, is where your deep passion meets the world’s deep hunger. I’ve found my vocation. Have you found yours?

Hearing the call

receiving my stole at Ordination this June

receiving my stole at Ordination this June

The hardest part of discerning a call to ministry for me was believing it was possible.

I was raised by parents who told me I could be anything I wanted when I grew up, so it wasn’t that I didn’t think the sky was the limit. And yes, I was Roman Catholic, and so I’d never actually *seen* a pastor who was a woman, but I knew such people existed. No, the hard part was that I really didn’t think I was a good candidate, spiritually speaking. At the the time I heard my call, I’d never read the whole Bible, I wasn’t much of a churchgoer, I was pretty new to that whole taking-religion-seriously thing, and I had a lot of doubts about a lot of the things I thought Christians Are Supposed to Believe.

So really, why in the world would God allow, much less want, me to serve as a pastor?

The first thing that really helped was actually reading the bible, particularly the prophets. In their call stories, I heard a lot of my own doubts mirrored (like Jeremiah, I am young; like Isaiah, I feel that I am a person of unclean lips), and in their accounts I also read God’s repeated response: “hey, dummies, it’s not about YOU; I’ll be with you.” Ah.

Along my journey, I met many wonderful pastors who also gifted me by showing their humanity and imperfections, too, and I realized that we are all serving God as best we can, warts and all. Powerful women, particularly my mother in law, my first mentoring pastor, Karen, my supervisor for my internship, Carol, my candidacy mentor, Michelle, and my back-to-back Bishop Susans (Morrison and Hassinger) modeled a variety of ways of being a strong woman in ministry, and I learned a great deal from them. Oh, and there are some guys I look up to, too.

I wish someone had told me how hard ministry is sometimes, not in terms of the endless tasks and the way everything seems to be a top priority, but how draining it can be emotionally, and how there can be dark nights when you’re sure that you are in the totally wrong place in your life and ministry and faith journey. The first time this happened to me, I was in seminary, and I thought I’d made a huge mistake; I wasn’t holding up well emotionally, and I thought that *obviously* meant I wasn’t fit to continue, because pastors have to have it together all the time. It took a while to work through that. I read Renita Weem’s book Listening for God, and now I read it about once every three years. It never fails to speak to me and remind me of the dawn at the end of the darkness.

Out of seminary, my doubts weren’t totally erased; my first six months in parish ministry, I found myself hating my job, constantly trying to fill out paperwork, manage crises, and figure out interpersonal struggles, and hardly ever having time for the creative, spirit-nourishing stuff I love. What someone *did* tell me, a neighboring pastor (now D.S.) named Henry, was that I had to stop trying to tackle the crises of other people, stop filling my time with the minutiae of the job that I hated and do the ministry I was called to do. Henry set me free to answer my call again, to do the ministry I loved and let the rest take care of itself. He is in many ways the reason I remained a pastor at all.

The greatest surprise came three years into my ministry after a particularly difficult week which I struggled through. Looking back over the past seven days, I had the strangest realization: I did a good job. I was good at this. Not just part of it, not just the stuff I liked, but the whole package. With congregants who stepped up and with a rawness in all of us that forced us to be dependent on God, we had managed to come through a crisis together and I had exhibited some pastoral leadership that, when I really looked at it, revealed that maybe I wasn’t such a lost cause after all. Maybe God didn’t mess up in calling me. Maybe God was going to–already had and always would– make good on that promise to be with me in the calling.

I won’t say I never doubted again. I have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. But I remember that there are dark nights that lead to dawns, and crises that give us opportunities to come together in loving community, and a God who is present every step of the way.

It’s a roller-coaster of a journey, and one I wouldn’t trade for the world. Blessings to you as you explore it!

I talk more about my call to ministry in a sermon you can hear here.

If you are a young adult (high school senior-age 24) interested in exploring a call to ministry of any kind, please consider attending Exploration 2009 this November, a chance to learn more about how God’s call might play out in your life! We’ll be praying for you.

I have, like, the best job ever.

I really do enjoy my job.

It amazes me sometimes. Sure, it’s difficult, and draining and chellenging some days. Sure, there are times when it seems like many of my days are filled with finding (and losing) paperwork, looking for prayers to go with a particular theme, and attending marathon meetings. But around that stuff, between the forms and the bulletin-making, there are the times when I dream and vision and imagine and strategize and listen and get excited and strategize some more. There are the times when I hear someone talk about an idea for a ministry or an outreach or a worship component, and their eyes positively light up. Then there are the times when I help that person work toward that idea, and I see on their face the joy and satisfaction of getting to do what they love. And I know it’s mirrored on mine.

I wrote a little earlier that I felt like I was ready to kick things into high gear and start in on some projects. This is what excites me most about ministry– the opportnity to listen to and with people for what God might be calling us to, and then together create something new that helps bring the blessing, joy, and love of God to another little corner of the world.

The current big project is the Trinity Community Thrift Store, a dream that came from Paul, a member of Trinity in Montpelier. Paul imagined that we might stop putting on 4-5 thrift sales a year as fundaisers for the church, and start offering a year-round thrift store as a more premanent source of inexpensive, quality clothing and household items in the downtowm Montpelier area. This is the best kind of project; it’s Paul’s dream, so he feels fulfilled and inspired about it, it helps the church in some ways financially and in terms of public relations, it helps people around the world because 10% of the income of the store will be given to a mission project outside of Trinity, and it helps the immediate community because there is a great need for an inexpensive shop in the town, so that folks can buy the things they need without using up all the money they have on hand for the week. I’m honored to be a part of making this happen, and to see and hear the buzz of excitement as this new thing unfolds.

And that’s just one new thing I see us doing together right now. There are a lot more ideas and there’s a lot more energy!

What about you? What exciting things are you doing in your church or would you like to do? What exciting things do you do with your work or your volunteer time? What makes (or would make) you say you have the best job ever?

Day Off

Mondays are my sabbath days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a day of rest. Sometimes, what really rejuvenates me is getting to do projects I love or to dream about ministry (and maybe even do a little of it, which I don’t consider cheating) without being ‘on the clock.’

So for example, today, on my day off, I:

  • took out the garbage. Okay, it doesn’t sound exciting, but it’s very purging.
  • did some weeding in the vegetable garden and put down some landscape fabric to keep the weeds down in the future. Again, it may not sound like rest, but I was out in nature, getting some (rare) sun, and had a great feeling of achievement.
  • had an impromptu video conference to discuss ideas about a program to help agencies and their resources better interface with people without housing or on the brink of being without housing. A passion of mine, and a discussion made possible by the wonders of internet technology.
  • talked with another group at church about rearranging some space use for a new project, yet to be unveiled. That might sound like work, but it was so uplifting!
  • called the congregant whose dream is the aforementioned new project, and asked him to come in tomorrow and begin the process of making it a reality. I didn’t see his face (no video conference, sadly), but even the sound of his voice was enough to know that moments like that are why I went into ministry.
  • managed to utterly confuse myself with my bills and checkbook, but sort it all out in the end, which again, is such a feeling of accomplishment (and relief!)
  • thought a little more about the ideas I’ve been having for sermons the next two weeks (I’m never that far ahead!) and for a series in September.
  • ran a mile and a quarter.

Now that’s a day that gets me feeling refreshed, revved up, and ready for the week ahead!

Warning: Pastor on the Loose!

Maybe a church or two on the loose, too!

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because they ordained me and now I’ve got an extra shot of the Spirit in me or something. Maybe it’s because I took a little time off over the past couple of weeks and got more rejuvenated than I realize. Maybe it’s the weather– well, I doubt that, since there’s not much inspiring about 2.5 straight weeks of rain. Maybe it’s because I’ve been here ten months, but it feels like a one year anniversary, since July is the normal moving time, and I think my one year of getting to know people is up.

I am a ministry fool this week.

I’m excited. I’m focused. I’m driven. I’m pulling no punches, going for broke, not taking no for an answer. I’m ready to push up my sleeves, rub my palms together and make a little ministerial magic. I’m ready to set things (metaphorically) on fire. I’m ready to shake it up, kick it up, make some changes, and get busy living the ministry we are called to live. Let’s do this thing!

To be clear, it’s nothing extreme; it’s just a little bit of everything– starting projects I’ve been wanting to start, having conversations with members of my congregations and with strangers on the street that really needed to happen, brainstorming sermon series and uses of space and community events. Nothing that’s never been done before, but all together, it’s exciting and invigorating, and I’m ready to take it out for a spin.

So beware, Gracies and Trinitarians! Beware, friends and family and support team members! I’m pumped and ready to go full steam ahead. I recommend getting on the train or getting off the track!

(mostly cross-posted as a discussion topic on the Trinity UMC Facebook page as well– what gets you excited about church? what do you want our projects to be?)

It does feel different.

The moment of ordination.

The moment of ordination.

I feel like I missed a lot of Conference. Or maybe it’s just that it’s blurry and I only remember the big things.

I preached Wednesday night for the opening memorial service, a tremendous honor that had me sweating glowing like crazy and more nervous than I remember being. Of course the actual sermon was not exactly like the rehearsal recording I uploaded, but it may have been close. I never felt like I totally got into my groove, but I also heard from literally hundreds of people that they loved it and were touched by it and needed to hear it, so maybe, jut maybe, God spoke a Word despite me. God tends to do that.

I spent much of Thursday coordinating, between legislative sessions, with a friend coming in late. Friday was similar but coordinating with family coming in for Saturday.

And then there was Saturday. Closing motions– our *last* full confernece closing motions. Friends crying right and left, me stealing other people’s tissues (sorry, Megan), and all before we even got near the Ordination service.

The service was surreal. My family sat right behind me, and I was between my two fellow ordinands. In some ways it flew; it seemed tailor made for me, the sermon, the people involved, the music– the anthem was “In the Midst of New Dimensions,” a favorite song of mine from which this blog takes its title. And before I knew it, my sponsors were on either side of me, my DS had offered me his arm, and I was walking to the stage, kneeling before the bishop, hearing the rustle in the room as people got to their feet.

And then three bishops, two board members, the conference lay leader, my District Supeintendent, my mom in law and my mentor all placed their hands on me.

There’s no way to describe it, but I’ll try.

A day before, I received a back massage from a woman who has studied reike. Her hands were incredibly warm and strong. These hands were warmer. They pressed down almost as hard as she did. I expected it to be like other ‘laying of hands’ I had experienced, where people lightly place their hand on you, barely applying pressure. Here was pressure, weight. This was serious prayer, like when you grip a friend’s hand for dear life. I think I let out an audible gasp.

And then (although I tried to stand up because I was in such a haze) my hands were placed on a bible, but I was looking right at the Bishop’s face, and her eyes were bright with moisture. As I stood, I had to stoop to accept the stole from her, and it raised goosebumps on my neck. I stayed on the platform for the rest of the service, and then we consecrated communion together, breaking bread and sharing liturgy (and book-holding confusion) with the three bishops like we were all colleagues, because, guess what, we are. I broke bread and placed it in people’s hands, calling them by name, grinning like a Cheshire Cat, I’m sure.

During the call to ministry, several people I knew came forward, and I didn’t have enough arms to hug them all. We recessed, and then the line of clergy, men and women I respect and admire and adore, shook my hand and greeted me, and it was in their eyes: despite the differences in age and experience, they greeted me as an equal.

I presided in worship on Sunday, twice, with a stole around my shoulders, conscious of the weight, but feeling right and at home.

Parting thoughts

I’m off to Troy Annual Conference, where I’m sure I’ll spend plenty of time blogging, tweeting, updating facebook status, and oh yeah doing exciting things like legislation and preaching to a huge audience and getting ordained.

I love conference.

But before I go, this happy thought from tonight’s Finance Committee portion of our Church Council/Finance Committee meeting.

First of all, understand that fear and anxiety around money has historically been pretty commonplace in my bigger church. They’ve been in a tough place financially, and that’s hard to get out of–not just in terms of the figures, but more importantly in terms of the mindset.

We had an hour and a half meeting. About half an hour of that was a conversation about parking which was tedious and frustrating, although necessary. But the other hour was about ministries and programs and goals and plans and ideas and people tripping over each other to try to get all the ideas out.

And this is the literal transcript of the Finance Committee portion:

Council Chair: So, Finance Committee. There’s no printed report. What do we need to know?

Finance Chair: Bills are paid.

Council Chair: Anything else?

Finance Chair: Nope. Bills are paid.

Council Chair: Anyone else? Anything else about finance?

(long pause…)

Pastor: Yes, I have something. I got my copy of the Conference Connection today, and it lists the churches that are paid in full for all of their apportionments for the first quarter. Our name is on the list. Excellent work.

(round of applause)

Council Chair: So, really, nothing else on finances? (another long pause). Right, then. Moving right along.

So. Incredibly. Proud of them.  *\o/*

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