Category Archives: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

40 Days of Moral Action launches a multi-year movement

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival begins a Season of Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action to launch a multi-year movement to address the intersecting issues of systemic racism, systemic poverty, the war economy/militarism, ecological devastation, and the distorted moral narrative. Here’s a graphic that provides an overview. Links follow.

PoorPeople'sCampaign

Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Kairos: The Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice
Repairers of the Breach
Poor People’s Campaign Facebook Page
New York State Poor People’s Campaign

 

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

We will remember you

The Rev. Buddy Monahan, my friend and colleague and leader in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), advocate for Native American peoples in and out of the church, seeker of justice, lover of life and the human family, was killed in a car accident on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. I wrote this and posted it on Facebook. As I watched the  live stream of his memorial service today, I realized that I wanted to post this here as well – to make it easier for me to find. The photo was taken at Standing Rock where Buddy, the Rev. Irvin Porter, and Synod Executive Elona-Street Stewart and I visited on behalf of the church. Our colleague Rick Jones took the photo. 

We will remember you, Buddy,
we will remember you:
follower of Jesus
StandingRockseeker of justice
pursuer of peace
breaker of chains
builder of community
child, spouse, father
chaplain, pastor
coach, teacher
youth worker
colleague, mentor, friend
person of faith
beloved child of God.

You loved your family,
cherished your friends,
affirmed Native peoples,
called the Church to repent,
invited Eric Law to Menaul,
traveled to Standing Rock,
challenged power and privilege,
analyzed the Doctrine of Discovery,
disrupted racism, patriarchy, and more.

And suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically,
you are gone. Too young gone. Too soon gone.
Understanding falters.

We grieve.
But above our grief
through our grief
within our grief
we hear faintly,
ever so faintly,
your song now perfectly joined with the Song.

And above our grief
through our grief
within our grief
we give thanks to God
for sharing you for a season
with Dyanna
with Jordyn, Ashdyn, Brandyn
with Menaul School
with Westminster Presbyterian Church
with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
with so many, with us.

And above our grief
through our grief
within our grief
we give thanks that God who made you,
and who journeyed with you
and who loved you
loves you still;
loves us still.

We will remember you, Buddy,
we will remember you.

Written 27 March 2018
Posted 4 April 2018
See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Poem, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Eric’s Ordination

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On 29 October, 2017 at Noble Road Presbyterian Church,
my son Eric was ordained as a minister of the Word and Sacrament
in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Essie and I were privileged to celebrate communion with him.
Of course I had to talk.
Eric serves as a Resident Minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor where Essie serves as the Youth Ministries Coordinator.
Thanks to Maria Bernardo for the photo.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Five years

Five years. The vagaries of time make it feel like yesterday and like a lifetime ago, all in the same moment.

Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) died on 12-12-12 in the afternoon. This post was written on that day at a time before I knew of her death. For a number of reasons, it seems worth sharing again and remembering this amazing woman and beloved child of God.

I did something today I have never done before.

I stood in silence for five minutes.

I am not big on pomp and circumstance and formality. A South African friend once observed that I can be a bit “cheeky” to those in authority. For some reason everyone who has heard that assessment has agreed with it. Go figure.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

The tradition in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is to stand when the General Assembly moderator enters the room. Almost every moderator in my memory has encouraged people not to do so. Most of the time most of them meant it. Yet the tradition persists – in honor of the person and even more so in respect of the office. And while it is not my favorite thing, I take part.

Today, without being asked, without being prompted, I chose to stand in silence for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach – moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010).

I watched her election from the back of the auditorium in Minneapolis. My son Sean and I leaned against the wall.

A period of questions and answers precedes the voting. Commissioners (the folks with the votes) pose questions and the individuals standing (we’re Presbyterian, we don’t run) respond. The questions deal with theology, issues before the church, and issues in the world.

At one point, a question was posed along the lines of: “What would happen to the church, if you were not elected and one of the other candidates were?”

One by one the candidates offered replies praising the others and noting that the church did not depend on their election. Then Cindy Bolbach stepped to the mike. I do not remember her exact words, but the essence was:

There will be utter chaos.

The Assembly erupted in laughter. Sean turned to me and said, “She just won, didn’t she?”

The Assembly still had to vote. But Cindy did win. And I believe her sparkling humor that bristles with wisdom played a key role.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

Cindy is a woman of incredible faith, deep love, amazing grace, and an incredible wit. She lives daily her commitment to Christ, to the Church, to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) , to all people, and to God’s world. She mixes simplicity and profound sincerity with a capability to navigate complexity and controversy. I am privileged to know her. The Church (in all its manifestations) is blessed by her presence.

For most of this year, Cindy has struggled against cancer. The struggle cut short her ability to attend events but it never dampened her spirits (at least in public). She wore a fedora to the 220th General Assembly (2012) and she wore it well.

This morning came the news that Cindy has entered hospice care. And I stood for five minutes in her honor.

But in the silence it came to me that another way – a better way – to honor Cindy Bolbach – is to give thanks to God for Cindy – to entrust Cindy to God’s merciful care – to pray for her without ceasing – then to get back about the business of ministry. I am pretty sure that is what she would want. So it is what I have done.

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, I will shed more tears. But I will also proclaim “Alleluia.”

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, there will be utter chaos. But in the chaos there will be love and there will be grace and there will be God. And all will be well for Cindy. And all will be well for us. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Purple not flowers cake and purple flowers Presbyterian Center 1

29 September 2017
Presbyterian Center
Louisville, Kentucky

My colleagues and friends seem to know me well.

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Filed under Friends, Louisville, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Uncategorized

An act of commitment

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Staff and friends of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gathered this morning at the Presbyterian Center for a chapel service in response to racism and white supremacy in Charlottesville and other places. (An archived live stream of the service is available.)

My colleague and friend, José Luis Casal, director of World Mission, helped celebrate communion.

During the Words of Institution, José Luis observed that, “The bodies of all who have been victims of injustice, the victims of rejection, the victims of violence…are the body of Jesus Christ.”

He reminded us that to come to the table and to partake of the bread and the cup is to commit ourselves personally to stand on the side of love with Jesus and to work against racism, white supremacy, every form of systemic oppression, violence and all that harms any of God’s precious children.

Silently, I shouted “Amen” as loudly as I could.

And I wondered—when the Presbyterian Center or any church or worshipping community gathers to celebrate communion, isn’t that organization making a similar statement? The act of gathering at Christ’s table is, for the community as well, a radical act of commitment to Jesus and to justice, to love and to grace.

May it be so. Amen.

See you along the Trail.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Marissa Galván who posted some of José Luis’s word and inspired me to write this post. The image appeared on the cover of the worship bulletin this morning. View the bulletin for the service

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Worship

Purple flowers and purple art, 2017 Big Tent 3

bigtent3

8 July 2017
Washington University in Saint Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

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Filed under Photo, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)