I hosted UNCO again this year, and it’s been interesting to see what’s going on in the innovative church world. The conference is open-space, so the participants generate the topics. It's for church leaders who serve traditional congregations and new churches.
I’m not one who has any natural inclination to vulnerability, but the suggestions I read that clergy vulnerability should be exercised in the pulpit of all places really make me cringe. I’ve asked Carol Howard Merritt for her thoughts on vulnerability as an element of clergy self-care.
Sixteen years ago, I kept a journal of my first year in ministry. At the end, I remember pasting an illustration of a man who was white and naked, and was being pulled apart by different hands. It was almost as if he were on a medieval torture rack, except fingers stretched him. The drawing, I felt, perfectly illustrated my first year as a pastor.
Rev. Frank Schaefer is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church where he ministered for 20 years. In 2013, he was tried by a highly publicized United Methodist church court for officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage. He was defrocked on December 19th, 2013 when he refused to uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety, which would have meant to denounce gay marriage rights.
My daughter and I drove up the driveway of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center to pick up my husband, Brian, from work. The Justice and Peace Center is housed in a beautifully dilapidated hundred-year-old Methodist Church, which closed. Now it’s full of artists, non-profit workers, musicians, activists and a new worshiping community in Chattanooga.
If you know me or have heard me speak, you’ve probably heard this story. I have told it hundreds of times. I grew up Southern Baptist and attended Moody Bible Institute. I felt a call to go into ministry, but I was frustrated because the only ministries that seemed open to me were teaching the women’s Bible study or playing the organ.