Grace in the Details

United Methodist Elders are ordained to Word, Order, Sacrament, and Service. It seems that during times of transition Order is one that takes precedence. In both leaving and beginning, there are a almost innumerable number of administrative items that need to be cared for, passed on to others, or at least communicated in some way.

For example, upcoming weddings… There are two on the calendar for the fall in 2018 at First UMC El Dorado at which Rev. Mik King will officiate and one on the calendar for me at Berryton UMC at which I will officiate. These are an incredibly important day in the life of the couple and their families and they are ones for which the pastor has a great deal of responsibility to go well. So, contact information for the couple, helping make the transition – these details are important and need attention. When I arrived in El Dorado in 2012 I had a wedding scheduled in July. I am grateful that in each of these three cases they are later in the year.

There are also details that have to be attended to nearly immediately. July 1 is the first day of the appointive year and this year it also happens to be a Sunday. Worship happens every Sunday and each congregation has a variety of practices around how it is planned and executed, as well as a number of different associated items that need to be prepared in some way. These are important details that need to be attended to right away.

It is impossible to put together a comprehensive list – Where are the light switches? What happens on Christmas Eve? Who decorates the altar? Who purchases candles? Any number of things…

My personality is such that I try to attend every detail, as best as I am able. At times this is helpful and at others paralyzing. During these weeks, I am working on offering myself and others grace in the details.

Where have you found grace in the details? Either offered or received?

Open Source Liturgy Project – Day 1

I am at the first session of the Open Source Liturgy Project hosted by the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church in lovely Nashville. I flew in on Southwest Airlines this afternoon and had a great experience getting out of the airport and to the shuttle on to Scarritt Bennett where I will be staying for the next couple nights.

I am excited about the potential of this project to create and share liturgy for baptism, communion, weddings and funerals that will breathe a breath of fresh air into the worship of churches.

I will be taking notes with Google Docs and you can check them out here.

LifeChurch.tv Internet Campus – Not (3 of 8)

Over the life of the internet campus at LifeChurch.tv there are several things that it has not done.

  • No children
  • No youth
  • No funerals
  • No weddings

Resources provided at Open | LifeChurch.tv have and are being used for children and youth programming for groups that gather to worship on the internet campus together. Brandon, Internet Campus Pastor, said that he had never received a request for a funeral or a wedding.

Women Officiating Weddings

I very strongly believe in equal opportunity for women and men in ministry. Sometimes the issue of the gender of a pastor arises around weddings. The following email is an excellent response from a male clergy person to someone who requested that he officiate a wedding ceremony instead of the female clergy person who had been initially recommended from the church. I think that it is a very sound response and will use it as a model in the future.

Thank you very much for your email. While I am flattered by your very kind words, I must unfortunately decline your request to officiate your wedding ceremony. The first reason is that none of the pastors at our church, including the senior pastor, is free to schedule weddings outside of our staff wedding coordinator. This is done to ensure that there is a high level of coordination between facilities, staff, and all of the other elements involved in staging a wedding.

The second reason I must decline is because of my feeling that accepting your request would be to effectively deny the validity of the ministry of my female colleagues. I understand that you have a strong sense of tradition attached to the churches you were brought up in. However, some of that tradition might possibly be rooted in a belief (on the church’s part) that women are inherently not suited to serve as pastors. In my experience, women are not only just as suited as men, but in some cases uniquely sensitized to realms of the spirit that men might be less comfortable with. This is especially the case with women pastors at this church.

I hope you might have the opportunity to re-evaluate your feelings on this subject and proceed with the pastor which the staff wedding coordinator has already recommended to you. Marriage is about mutual growth and compromise and what better place to begin that process than on your wedding day.

Have you ever experienced a similar issue? What responses have you given or found to be helpful in similar situations?