Category: Personal

Before I became a pastor, I spent around eleven years as a professional fundraiser. I worked my way up in that career, beginning as an administrative assistant in the development office at Chicago Theological Seminary, directing the annual fund and advancement services programs at Northeast Ohio Medical University, serving as church relations associate at Back Bay Mission, and consulting with churches and other nonprofit organizations. And, if I do say so myself, I was pretty good at it. I kept up with the literature, took a lot of continuing education, started new fundraising programs, and raised millions of dollars…
I’ve already announced this on my personal Facebook profile, but I haven’t said anything here yet: I recently signed a contract with Wipf and Stock to publish my first book — the working title is Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) — through their Cascade Books imprint. I spent more than two years working on the manuscript, and who-knows-how-long before that accidentally researching a book. While there’s still plenty if work to be done, I am very excited for this project to be in its final stages! Here’s my draft for the back cover copy: Right now,…
I woke up this morning to the news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. I’m not usually affected by celebrity deaths. Robin Williams’ hit me, and I always feel a moment of sadness for the friends and families of those who have passed, but celebrities are — almost by definition — people I do not know. I know of them. I know about them. But I do not know them. But… A lifetime ago, I was a cook in a good restaurant in a sleepy college town. My chef recommended Kitchen Confidential to me. And I devoured it. I wasn’t planning on cooking as…
Posting is lighter this week because last weekend, I went to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. When I was a student there, I played in the jazz ensemble, as well as a few of the jazz combos. And while I’m not nearly as good as I used to be — because who has time to practice anymore? — I enjoy going back for the Rootabaga Jazz Festival (named for Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories… the spelling is intentional). ‘Baga is a surprisingly good festival for a small town in Illinois. This year’s featured artists were Greg Ward & 10 Tongues, Matt Ulery’s Loom, and,…
While I haven’t been thinking about it this way — it’s still ministry, after all — the move from fundraiser to pastor is technically a career change. And while there’s a lot that goes along with a job change and a career change, one thing I wasn’t expecting was that I would spend time cleaning the digital house. I spent serious time clearing out the blogs that I follow, unfollowing Facebook pages, deleting browser bookmarks, unsubscribing from so many email lists, and generally saying, “I don’t need to pay attention to this anymore.” That’s not to say that I got…
For the last five-and-a-half years (plus a bit), I’ve been the church relations associate at Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the United Church of Christ in Biloxi, Mississippi. Now I’m preparing to move on to a new adventure. Soon, I’ll have my first day as pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeWitt, Iowa. I’ll be honest. I’m both excited and nervous to take on my first pastoral position. There are many parts of the work of a pastor that I love, and there are many aspects of this congregation that I think I’ll love….
While working on another project, I’ve been thinking about hope. And part of what I’ve been thinking about is the difference between eschatological hope and immanent hope. Those are big words, but they matter. Eschatology is the branch of theology that asks questions about death, judgement, and the ultimate destiny of creation. Eschatological hope is the hope that we have that God’s kingdom will be realized: that justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24). Immanence is the reality of the divine that we see here and now. Immanent hope is the hope that…
Over at Coffeehouse Contemplative, Jeff Nelson has a parody that beat me to an issue I’ve been wanting to address: the idea that everything you’re doing is wrong. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of things I am apparently doing wrong: tying my shoes, adding milk to scrambled eggs, putting oil in pasta, peeling bananas, crossing out words, eating tic tacs, eating cupcakes, cutting bread, and putting rolls of toilet paper on the toilet paper holder. “You’re doing it wrong,” has become the cute click-bait listicle way of saying “Here’s a different approach.” And I like cute click-bait listicles. That’s probably…
We are not here to be realistic. We are here to change reality. Don’t be foolish: we aren’t going to end hunger by the end of the year. But don’t be overly cautious: we can end hunger someday, and we can do it by feeding one person at a time. ‘Being realistic’ is too often code for being too cautious, for backing off the big idea, for playing it safe. ‘Being realistic’ too often means: don’t take the risk; don’t dream big. I wonder who the first person was to look at a plan to eradicate smallpox and say:…

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