By far the most uncomfortable pastoral work I do is with people who want help for relatives in churches that are far away. I once got a call from one such relative who had been elected secretary of a church committee and wondered how she should minute the meeting. Worse are the complaints about pastors who do things I have done. (“My brother says they don’t sing hymns everyone knows. What can we do?”)
Our church started down its bicultural path in the kitchen of the community meal. We recognized our need for cooks who spoke English and Spanish and could help us reach out to the Spanish-speaking community beyond our boundaries.
My wife, our four sons, and I occasionally take family trips into Washington, D.C. We always go in uniform: everyone wears the same T-shirt. We like the visibility of bright orange, and our current uniform is a loud orange advertisement for the West Michigan White Caps, the minor league baseball team in Grand Rapids.
James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through church attics and basements in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, looking for records of early American life. Some churches are reticent to part with old documents, but the two historians point out how vulnerable the documents are and offer to keep them in a climate-controlled rare book room at the Congregational Library in Boston. Among their findings: a church in Middleboro possessed an application for membership submitted in 1773 by a slave (New York Times, July 29).