Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Knitting Foibles

I just finished knitting the Shalom sweater and I have to frog the whole thing. I modified the pattern in an attempt to make a pattern for a small medium woman fit me – a plus sized woman. I ended up making a sweater that would fit a super plus sized woman. What I learned is that I have a mental image of myself that is a bit bigger than I really am. So I am going to frog this sweater and begin again. It is a quick knit and what really makes me sad about this is that my knitting was so good. The technique of the stitches were uniform, tension was uniform. The finished garment was beautiful. I hope I can reproduce it when I get the courage to try again.

I had added 40 stitches to the pattern and I don’t think I need to add that many. I am considering adding 15 and am now questioning if that may too many. Modifying sewing patterns, which I can do well, is so much easier than modifying knitting patterns.

Meanwhile, I want to post a picture of my finished Clapotis. I can do this ‘tangy’ pattern from Knitty. I had this yarn in my stash and I love how it came out. It is cotton and nylon so will wear well and I can wear it year round. It looks good with my orange dress and I have a red pantsuit that I can wear it with too. My learning on this project was how to twist stitches as a Continental knitter. I was also had some tension issues which I will address when I do this pattern again in the future. I am happy with the finished product.

Heartland Presbytery Votes in the Context of Worship

I have to give great kudos to my colleagues and friends on the Church Order and Listening Division for their work in putting together today’s Called Meeting of Presbytery to vote on the 14 Amendments to the Book of Order. The meeting was designed around worship and it was an excellent meeting if any Presbytery meeting can be described as excellent. It is a meeting and it was a really nice day today. 70 degrees and sunny. I would have rather spent the day reading on my porch than cooped up in a church sanctuary voting on BOO changes.

Well what amused me most was the typo/spelling error in the Prayer of Confession. It made me smile. It made me smile because it reminded me of how human we really are and how much we all need God’s love and forgiveness. It is the prayer of confession where we confess our human foibles and sin and receive God’s forgiveness so it was so appropriate that a type/spelling error be found in that very prayer that sets the stage for this part of our service.

The sermon by our Executive Presbyter was a good sermon. Again it reminded us that that the process of voting was not as important as the real work and ministry of the church that happens in our congregations and through the relationships we have with each other. Charles left to attend the funeral of a long time Elder Commissioner and former Moderator of our Presbytery. As a Presbytery we did fine in voting and many prayers were offered for Gurnie’s family. I had worked with Gurnie on a couple of committees over the years I’ve been in the Presbytery and he served the Church well.

After this we voted and we voted and voted. The Church Order and Listening Division engaged the Commissioners to the General Assembly in presenting the various Amendments and broke them up based on topic. I presented on a process motion regarding the proposed changes in the Book of Discipline and providing for an Alternative Form of Resolution. It passed. I was also called to pitch hit for another Commissioner who fell ill, so prayers for Jeff and Madeline that they get well soon! That Amendment on Membership Vows failed to pass.

About fifteen minutes before lunch, which was an Order of the Day at noon, we began the discussion on the ‘BIG” amendment – Amendment B. After our lunch break we continued to discuss Amendment B and the process motion to extend discussion, which needed to pass by a 2/3rd majority, failed so at the end of the 30 minutes of total discussion, we voted. Amendment B passed in Heartland Presbytery. I wasn’t surprised it passed because this Presbytery has always voted in the affirmative for the removal and/or change and modification of G-6.0106b. If you want to follow the outcome of this voting in all the Presbyteries, you can tune into the PCUSA’s official tally site at:

The final tally will be posted on the Presbytery’s website on Monday. Here is my unofficial tally of the votes, which was reported after worship closed with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

A. failed 81 Yes 132 No 7 Abstained
B. passed 127 Yes 90 No 5 Abstained
C. passed 199 Yes 17 No 2 Abstained
D. passed 203 Yes 9 No 4 Abstained
E. passed 196 Yes 16 No 2 Abstained
F. failed 72 Yes 140 No 6 Abstained
G. passed 228 Yes 6 No 0 Abstained
H. passed 189 Yes 26 No 0 Abstained
I. failed 60 Yes 148 No 9 Abstained
J. passed 149 Yes 55 No 13 Abstained
K. passed 202 Yes 13 No 1 Abstained
L. passed 185 Yes 28 No 2 Abstained
M. passed 215 Yes 3 No 0 Abstained
N. passed 207 Yes 7 No 2 Abstained

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving incorporated prayer requests that we all had the opportunity to share and were collected during a time of offering. Our offering today was prayer – no money – just prayer.

As a Commissioner to the 218th General Assembly, I am very proud of Heartland Presbytery for how they handled the Voting on the Amendments process. It was much more orderly than the last round of voting and I was chair of Church Order and Listening during that last round of voting. There are more creative people on the Division and that showed in how they placed the meeting in the context of worship. To me it reflected the idea that grew out of the General Assembly of Solemn Assemblies. The way Solemn Assemblies were first presented to the Assembly had me seriously questioning the practice since so many non-Reformed sources were cited. The General Assembly did not pass Solemn Assemblies as presented to the Commissioners but did charge the office of Theology and Worship to develop some resources for the use of Presbyterians. I think our Church Order and Listening Division and the Worship and Fellowship Division captured what the Assembly asked for regarding Solemn Assemblies when formulating today’s Presbytery meeting. As meetings go, this was a good one. Now lets get on with being the Body of Christ.

Where to Begin

It's been a while since I've blogged. Has anyone missed me. It's been a difficult winter and I have a lot of issues - primarily heavy duty professional issues to think about. I've been thinking about my future as a pastor and my future job as the situation at my current church continues to struggle with its future. I'm also sick of winter. I have no energy in the winter.

Meanwhile I think this week was a fascinating week. There are so many things I could write about so I think I will start with Monday.

On Monday I was invited to participate an Interfaith Relations Clergy Institute sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Bureau of the American Jewish Committee. It was held at Union Station and featured a dialog between Father McManus and Rabbi Rudin on “The Parting of the Ways: The First to the Twenty-first Centuries and What New Scholarship Teaches Us” about Jewish Christian relations. I’m grateful for the invitation and learned much from both scholars that will be helpful in my preaching and teaching.

After the dialog, the exhibit “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” was open to us to view. It is a free exhibit sponsored by Avila University. I want to go back to see this exhibit again before it leaves Kansas City on March 27, 2009. It is in the Arthur Stilwell Room of Union Station and the exhibit is FREE. It is worth your time to see this moving exhibit.

On Wednesday I went to the Dave Ramsey Clergy Lunch. The Lunch was good and the presentation was for clergy on how we can support the Dave Ramsey LIVE event coming to Kansas City on May 2nd at Kemper Arena. If people buy tickets through their churches, they can save 30% off the $40.00 price for a ticket to the live event. If you are interested in a discounted ticket to this event, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do to get you one. In these economic times, economic education is important.

On Thursday I went to the funeral of a member of my congregation. This particular member had developed a close relationship with one of the Elders at the church and the Elder did the funeral. He did a wonderful job. I was glad that I could empower him to do so by providing the materials he needed to put together a good solid service that met the wishes of the family. What it also showed me, in reflection, that I am not irreplaceable. It is also symptomatic of my congregation and the larger church that it is dying. My congregation has lost two members so far this year. A roll of 55 has now gone down to 53. 53 people really cannot support a full time clergy person. I often grasp for things to do to keep me busy and keep my folks engaged – many of whom are elderly and infirm – it takes a lot of energy to just live life when you have difficulty moving. I often think that I have difficult job. It is difficult to watch a congregation die. It is difficult to walk with a congregation when it does die. In a culture that gets focused on doing, being is hard work and takes a lot of energy. I sometimes think being takes more energy than doing. So I see my primary task right now to BE with these folks as they grieve and as they It is difficult for me because I like to be doing something and I realize the end is probably coming soon for this congregation and I don’t have my next new thing lined up.

In terms of my next new thing - I am not sure what that will be. Discernment is hard work and the economic woes of our present time does not give one a sense of security or hope. In times like these it is difficult to remain faithful to what one believes God has called one to do. It is difficult to remain non-anxious in times like these, yet if I believe what I say I believe, this is exactly what I need to do.

After the funeral I went to Business Affairs committee of the Presbytery. Friday I tried to take as a day off, but had a medical test (routine) and end up in the office for about an hour to proof-read the bulletin. Saturday was spent – not enjoying the outdoors and 70 degrees and sunny weather – but a Presbytery Meeting. I’ll write more about that in my next entry.