Monthly Archives: September 2007

Mix Pix

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then today will be my longest blog ever.

The first picture is my new profile picture, taken by my friend Keith as he was playing with my Palm Treo at annual conference this summer.

I think it’s one of the first pictures of me without the beard I’ve worn since the Spring of 1991. This spring, I was having so much trouble wearing the CPAP mask at night that I finally shaved off the beard just before my surgery. Because of that the mask holds a better seal and very little air can escape now… which means I sleep A LOT better! Which was pretty significant as I went into the surgery and recovery time.
And of course, here is the photographer himself, practicing his new hobby over lunch while at conference.

The final picture is of our son Josh holding a doll I bought Gay a little more than a year ago.
The ironic thing is that there were two reasons I bought her that particular doll: (1) it was called “Joshua” and (2) it looked a lot like our Joshua when he was newborn.
In fact, when it was advertised in Parade magazine in Spring 2006, friends and family from all over the place noticed the similarities and sent us the ads.
So it’s been fun for us to watch Josh sort of ‘adopt’ the “baby Joshua” and talk to him. Yesterday, baby Joshua even had to take a nap with big Joshua. And he cuddled baby Josh in his arm like Mommy has often cuddled him.
Now is that a happy child or what???!!!

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I was at a meeting yesterday of our conference’s latest attempt to address the need for a governing body to meet in between annual conference sessions to oversee the ongoing ministries and carry out the wishes of the annual conference. We’re calling it the Conference Connectional Network.

It was sort of a meeting… It was billed as a retreat… but Larry Homitsky, Frank Sherman, and I were the only guys NOT in a dress shirt. In fact, several guys were actually wearing ties (and one nut was wearing a collar!!!! But in fairness, Keith claimed it was because he had been at a funeral beforehand… OK, whatever!)

In any case, it was a good meeting/retreat where we were able to establish some common understandings and goals.

What has stuck with me the most, however, was towards the end when Bishop Tom Bickerton led us in the selection of officers for the new group. He set the ground rules as being a process of discernment, not nominations and elections.

We passed around the Post It notes and we each prayed and wrote down a name of one of the members of the group that we thought might be the one God Himself wanted for whatever position. No nominations were allowed. No speeches. No reminders.

And through that process, there were just a few that really seemed to “come to the top” in each category. The bishop then asked us to take another Post It note and we prayed again and wrote down the name that came to mind from that group. In that way, eventually, we were able to discern the Rev. Greg Cox as our chair, The Rev. Gary Grau as our vice-chair, and The Rev. Keith McIlwain as our secretary.


But then I remembered back to annual conference when we all claimed we wanted to use discernment as the way we were going to select our delegates to General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference. I don’t think it worked as well as it was meant to… and definately not as well as last night’s process.

Part of the problem lies in our conference rules that sets up a pre-nomination kind of requirement where people can “put their names in the hat” on their own by writing a summary of why they would be a good delegate. Then the different districts can nominate them or, if they don’t secure that nomination, they can simply find 25 others to agree (by signing a petition to nominate them) and they still appear at the front of the list when we go to vote at the annual conference session.

Part of the problem this past year was that there were some unscrupulous folks that sent out anonymous letters campaigning for their own favorites for laity delegates. As I’ve said before, anonymity has no place among Christians who claim they are taking a stand for righteousness and justice. Jesus, Paul, Justin, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and scores of others took stands for righteousness and justice and did it bold-faced and stood up to be counted… and IDENTIFIED. The only ones I find that took stands anonymously were folks who were on shaky ground like the folks who wore masks, hoods, and robes to cover their intimidation tactics in the middle of the night as they burned crosses. That kind of ‘stand’ has no place amongst those who stand up to be counted for Christ.

But I believe there was another problem this past June when we were trying to discern God’s choices for delegates. When the process wasn’t producing what was considered to be the right results, people were allowed to make speeches to suggest candidates… in the spirit of inclusiveness.

Now I believe in inclusiveness… to a point. We should NOT be deliberately excluding people and need to constantly be on guard to make sure that the systems and organizations we are in are accessible to all. But to claim you’re seeking God’s will and using a process of discernment ought to preclude all of those suggestive reminders. After all, if you’re listening to GOD, then can’t GOD simply tell you who is GOD’s choice???

Does that mean that we were saying that God might not select the right delegates? Or are we saying that inclusiveness is more important than discernment?

And on that note… if we’re really going to be inclusive, then why were we reminded to be inclusive based on skin colors? I thought United Methodists were against such labelling. Don’t we say that we DON’T make decisions based on skin color? And while there were reminders of several African-American candidates, how come nobody suggested a Korean or Native-American? We have people of both of those backgrounds as well in our conference.

And come to think of it, why were we being reminded that we needed to be inclusive based on gender? I thought United Methodists were against making decisions based on gender.

And if we are really going to make inclusiveness the god that we get our discernment from, then what about the geographical representation? Did anyone check to see if the 10 clergy delegates and 10 laity delegates were truly representative of the 10 different geographic districts in our conference?

How about income? Or politics? Or age? How about the small membership churches and the big membership churches? How about those like my congregation where we’re not big but definately not small? Were we represented?

How about the skinny and larger members? Was there a representative inclusiveness? How about those with green eyes and those with brown or blue eyes? Was there a representative inclusiveness?

Maybe we could really be inclusive if the clergy divided equally between those who wear collars and those who don’t.

NOW… let me be clear and say that I think the whole attempt to make inclusivity the MAIN decision making factor is ridiculous. No matter how inclusive you try to be, someone is going to feel left out. Because in struggling for inclusiveness we are actually focusing on our differences and we are, in effect, making bigger divisions.

I think we, in the church, ought to be about discerning God’s will… not just trying to be inclusive. If we are discerning God’s will and hearing God’s leading, then we can trust the process of discernment… without speeches or reminders… just like our Bishop led us in our group last night.


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My Favorite Sister

I actually only have one sister… but she’s still my favorite!!!

My sister Laura actually had a chance to visit here yesterday and the day before. We didn’t have a lot of time to talk, but I sure did appreciate the chance to see her.

She’s shown here responding to her circumstances as we were traveling back to my house from nearby Punxsutawney yesterday.


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Myers-Briggs Personality Type

I have been out of the blogging for much of the summer so I just today found a personality type inventory site on my friend Keith’s blog.

So I took it…

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I would have described myself as somewhat stretched between the introverted and extroverted. I also would have guessed the sensing/intuitive and the thinking/feeling as a balance between the two extremes. The outcome on the judging/perceiving line really blew me away… and I’m not quite sure what it even means yet!

According to the web site judging (NOT judgmental by the way) looks like this:

Judging (J) Judging is the preference outwardly displayed. Judging does not mean “judgmental”. Judging people like order, organization and think sequentially. They like to have things planned and settled. Judging people seek closure. Judging Characteristics:

whereas perceiving looks like this:

Perceiving (P)Perceiving is the preference outwardly displayed. Perceiving people are flexible, like to keep their options open and think randomly. They like to act spontaneously and are adaptable. Perceivers like to keep things open ended. Perceiving Characteristics:

OK, based on THOSE descriptions, I guess I’m more on the perceiving end of things… although I have developed strategic ways of coping with that propensity… such as regular comparing of calendars with both my wife and my secretary & using a Palm Pilot to give the alarm when I’m supposed to do something… just in case I get so involved in a project that I lose track of time.

Anyone else take this test? Willing to share? How accurate did you find it? Did it affect you in any way?


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Unit Conversion

Every so often, I actually get an email that isn’t a repeat and actually makes me laugh. Today was one of those times… Thanks Dorie!!!

For all who have difficulty converting units:
Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi
2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton
1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope
Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1 bananosecond
Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 billigram
Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knotfurlong
16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling
Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon
1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz
Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower
Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line
453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
1 million- microphones = 1 megaphone
2 million bicycles = 2 megacycles
365.25 days = 1 unicycle
2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds
52 cards = 1 decacards
1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 Fig Newton
1000 milliliters of wet socks = 1 literhosen
1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche
1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin
10 rations = 1 decoration
100 rations = 1 C-ration
2 monograms = 1 diagram
4 nickels = 2 paradigms
2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale UniversityHospital = 1 IV League
AND…….100 Senators = Not 1 decision

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Still A Good & Faithful Servant

One of the events of this summer, the day I actually returned to duty after my sick leave in fact, was the celebration of the ministry of Reynoldsville’s newly designated PASTOR EMERITUS, The Rev. Leo C. Cramer. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his ordination as an elder in the Methodist tradition and we recognized him publicly for his ongoing invaluable ministry with , and among, and to, our congregation. We had wanted to get something into the conference newspaper, but they didn’t have room. These are the comments I started with as we moved into his installation as pastor emeritus.

The idea of this celebration started shortly after I arrived and there were a lot of people with a lot of questions about what role would Leo have with this new pastor…

I had friends who had entered ministry before I did who told of coming to this church building and learning the basics of being a pastor and a preacher from Leo as he taught the Local Pastor Licensing School.

I had a DS and Pastor Hughie who had told me of Leo helping to fill in the gaps when someone was away or sick…

I had you, my new church family, telling me of times when Leo had been there for a baptism, a funeral, a graduation, or just there as a listening ear in important life moments.

And I knew that we needed to continue to involve Leo. I needed his knowledge of names… He actually, from memory, can help me figure out who someone is by explaining where they sit on Sunday morning. (In fact, he’s offered to make me a seating chart cause he knows who goes where…)

I needed his understanding of who to talk to in order to get a job done. He knows who is talented with hammers and who is expert with calculators.

I needed his help in finding those people who might need a pastoral visit who wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable calling the new preacher and asking me to come.

And with some folks, with their well-hidden homes, I needed his help to even find them… and to figure out how to get home again.

I started asking people how can we help Leo to understand that we, both the congregation and this new pastor, need him as a part of our ministry team.

Being ‘methodical,’ all pastors are listed in the conference journal with their pastoral record… so I looked him up and realized, without straining too hard with the math, that it was 50 years ago this month that he had been ordained… and 60 years ago he had been licensed, ready to serve as a pastor whenever the bishop might need him.

But you know… just like the social page in the newspaper doesn’t feature just anyone who had a wedding 50 years ago, but only those who CONTINUE to be married after 50 years… so we also wanted to make a distinction here with Leo.

YES, we celebrate his ordination five decades ago… before I was even born… but that’s only a part of the picture… For we also celebrate that the ministry of Jesus Christ is advanced by the way Leo Cramer continues, even though he’s entitled to an easy retirement and has earned a rest, this man CONTINUES to minister…

And we as a church have recognized him as a pastor emeritus because we understand, and want the world around us to understand, that the ministry of First United Methodist Church, is stronger because Leo is part of our team.

When I first approached Leo about this, he laughed and said that ‘pastor emeritus’ was just a polite way of saying, “Thanks but goodbye!” sort of a “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”

But Leo, we declare to you today, that this title is all about a recognition of your fruitful ministry of the past and our belief that, with you on our team, we will together have a continued fruitful ministry together in the future.

Leo, we thank you.

Leo, we honor you.

Leo, we love you.

Leo, we need you.

Picture used with permission of Red Room Images, Reynoldsville, PA

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