When I was courting The Rev. Carl Parker’s daughter (who eventually became my wife, Patsy) Mr. Parker was serving as a District Superintendent in the Marion District of the Methodist Church. I was nervous. I wanted to make a good impression. I was considering entering seminary in the fall, and I wanted the approval ofContinue reading “For God’s Sake Say It!”
Category Archives: Blog Posts
Divine Wisdom among "Little Old Ladies"
A few years ago, a friend of mine returned from one of those National Council of Churches trips to the Soviet Union. Two weeks had made her a Soviet expert. When asked about the churches in there, her reply was, “There’s nobody left in the churches except for a few little old ladies.” Poor, out-of-itContinue reading “Divine Wisdom among "Little Old Ladies"”
It took until February 1965 for the Alabama voting rights movement to spread from Selma to less populated environs. Martin Luther King visited both Perry and Wilcox counties, appearing even at little Gees Bend, encouraging the tenant farmers not to give up now. In one demonstration in Perry, seven hundred students from SCLC were arrestedContinue reading “Big Church”
“Faith is not only God’s gift but also God’s assignment.” Conversations with Barth on Preaching (Abingdon Press, 2006) So much of the time we think of faith as our own personal achievement. In looking to theologian Karl Barth, we are reminded that faith is always a gift from God. In addition to faith as divineContinue reading “On Faith”
Throughout the churches of North Alabama United Methodism, we are preparing to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. The proclamation that God became flesh and moved in with us (John 1) is one of the most distinctive affirmations of the Christian faith, perhaps the most distinctive. Comparison with other accounts of who God is andContinue reading “Christmas Meditation”
Resisting the Clutches of Consumerism
Our government no longer refers to us as “citizens,” but as “consumers.” If we can get you to consume cigarettes, cars, mouthwash, and sedatives, then we can get you to consume people. That is why Calvin Klein uses soft kiddie porn to sell blue jeans. Consumption. Therefore the question: “How could we, who confess JesusContinue reading “Resisting the Clutches of Consumerism”
Imagination and Ministry
“The Bible is a book of the imagination.” So writes Harvard’s Peter Gomes. One reason why Peter is such a great preacher, and biblical interpreter, is that he has a fertile imagination. It is as if Scripture has as its purpose to stoke, to fund, and to fuel the imagination, thereby to make available toContinue reading “Imagination and Ministry”
Reaching People for Christ or for the Culture?
Jesus commands us to go and to reach out to all the world in his name. Yet sometimes, in evangelistically reaching out, we fall face down into the culture. In offering people the Christian faith, we offer them nothing much more than they could get anywhere else in the world. Pastor Rick Barger thinks aboutContinue reading “Reaching People for Christ or for the Culture?”
On Nov. 15, Highlands United Methodist Church’s ministry with homeless people on Birmingham’s Southside made the front page of The Birmingham News. The article noted that this ministry has drawn some fierce criticism from some quarters. I love it when the United Methodist Church makes front-page news not for losing members or fighting over someContinue reading “Thanksgiving”
Pastors as Visionary Leaders
Lovett Weems lists the phases of thriving and declining organizations: original vision, growth and building the organization, maintenance, decline, recognized decline, crises or death. I feel that in the United Methodist Church we are in the period of at last recognizing our decline. I hope this leads to a crisis that provokes change and growth.Continue reading “Pastors as Visionary Leaders”