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E-pistles

"Ripe for Renewal"

7/29/2014
I am writing from England, where I am on a Wesley Tour to learn more about John and Charles Wesley and about the beginnings of the Methodist revival movement in the Church of England -- which, of course, came to America and resulted in our United Methodist Church as well the other branches of Methodism, now with over 75 million members worldwide. I am also learning about the haunting similarities between the 18th century Church of England and the 21st century United Methodist Church in the...

"Helping and Not Hurting"

7/14/2014
There is a fine line between helping and hurting. Even when we try to help, sometimes we over-do that helping and it can become hurtful. Books like “When Helping You is Hurting Me” have reminded us of this truth. Books on parenting also often remind us not to smother our children but to allow them to leave the nest of our parenthood. Recently I received a copy of his new book from Kennon Callahan, who is perhaps best known for his “Twelve Keys to an Effective Church”...

"What Unites Us"

7/10/2014
Many people and caucus groups in our United Methodist Church these days are talking about words like “schism” and “amicable separation” and other ways of dividing our denomination. Why? Because, we have deep differences over issues like human sexuality, the authority and interpretation of Scripture and the application of our Social Principles. In the midst of such discussions, perhaps it is helpful to focus upon the things that unite us. Here is my list: We are...

"Crosses and Flags"

7/3/2014
As we approach another Fourth of July holiday, it seems a good time to reflect briefly on the nature of patriotism and our response as Christians. I actually receive some letters and emails from people who are upset that their church sanctuary has an American flag, or that their church sanctuary does not have an American flag. I also hear from some people with differing views about singing patriotic hymns on the Sundays around July 4th (hymns like “American the Beautiful” or...

"What's a Pastor To Do?"

6/26/2014
This E-pistle is a word of instruction and guidance for the clergy of the Indiana Conference, but of course lay persons from Indiana and all other readers are welcome to read and reflect upon these issues. Three newsworthy developments in the past week have left many of our United Methodist clergy in Indiana wondering "what's a pastor to do?" regarding the issue of same-gender marriage. In case you are not aware, those three events were: The General Assembly of the...

"Leaving a Legacy"

6/24/2014
The hot topic among the extremely wealthy in America lately seems to be their declaration that they are not going to leave a large inheritance to their children. They say they want their children to learn to work hard and earn their way in life. One older rock star even said crudely that he and his wife are spending their own fortune as fast as they can - so they don't leave much to their children. Other billionaire types (like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) are at least giving much of their...

"Don't Shrink the Church or the Gospel"

6/9/2014
Acts Chapter 20 records that Paul gathered the leaders of the church at Ephesus to say farewell before he left, knowing he would go to Rome and his likely death. In his farewell to them, he reminds them that he gave everything for the Gospel and for the churches. He says he did not shrink from sharing totally with them, he did not "hold back" or "shrink" or "reduce" the Gospel – rather, he gave his "all" for the church and the Gospel. He concludes...

"Lots of Light"

6/3/2014
Our 2014 Session of the Indiana Conference was a great event, and it included some very special moments. The highlight for me was the response of so many people and congregations to the invitation for "100 New Points of Light." In fact, more than 300 people representing 201 congregations came forward – so many that I worried a little about whether our stage would hold everyone! What happens now? Those who came forward were led into a separate room where they received packets of...

"Dad's Flag"

5/27/2014
Because my father was a veteran of WWII, his burial included a military honor guard and the presentation of a flag which had been draped on his casket. My sisters decided that I should receive the flag, and so I watched as the military personnel folded the flag with great care and handed it to me with the usual words, "From a grateful nation." In many ways the gift of the flag is appropriate, and not just because Dad was a veteran. I don't know anyone who took more pride in flying...

"Lighting the Way"

5/20/2014
As we approach our Indiana Annual Conference Session next week, I am very excited about some of the events, worship services, presentations, and special moments which will occur at that Session. I always feel privileged to thank those clergy who are moving into retirement, as well as welcoming, commissioning and ordaining new clergy. The service of remembrance is also poignant as we give God thanks for our faithful servants who have finished their life journey. The teaching time with Rev. Bob...
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