December 24, 2007

The Ordination of Lynn Labs

What a wonderful day - December 23, 2007! Lynn Labs was ordained at First UCC.

Lynn began her studies at United Theological Seminary in 1999.

She had felt a call to ministry for a long time and after another career - and as her two daughters were getting older - she decided to pursue studies at United Seminary - a United Methodist School in Dayton. Her gifts have been recognized and supported by many people, including those who gathered and celebrated with her on Sunday, December 23.

Lynn's mentor, the Reverend Doctor Richard L. Eslinger preached the ordination sermon. Dick is a professor at United Seminary.
Lynn's home church pastors also participated. Pastor Carol gave the charge to the Congregation and I gave the charge to the Ordinand.

SONKA Minister, The Reverend Ruth Brandon, and the Chair of the Church & Ministry In-Care Committee, The Reverend Marylyn Doyle, presented Lynn for ordination.

Congratulations, Reverend Lynn!

December 1, 2007

I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church!

I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church! is the title of Paul Nixon's recent publication by Pilgrim Press. Paul is a former Southern Baptist who migrated over to the United Methodist Church during the fundamentalist resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. Until this year, he was the Director of Congregational Development for the Alabama-West Florida Conference. He is now the pastor of a new church start in the Washington, DC area.

Paul Nixon believes that God invites every church to thrive. He believes the future of mainline Protestant traditions in America are in the hands of pastors and leaders who must immediately make some critical choices, radically reframing the way they approach their ministry tasks.

The book is about six choices every church leader - clergy and laity - can make. The choices are:

  • Choosing Life over Death

  • Choosing Community over Isolation

  • Choosing Fun over Drudgery

  • Choosing Bold over Mild

  • Choosing Frontier over Fortress

  • Choosing Now rather than Later

On Tuesday, November 13, the Congregational Development team of our Association of UCC Churches in Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association (SONKA), sponsored a workshop with Paul Nixon that was attended by 130 people from the UCC and several other denominations and seven members of First UCC.

We all came eager and curious about what words of wisdom Paul could bring to us. We were not disappointed.

Now our task is to bring this study to First Church.

During December and January, we will have two, possibly three small study groups that will study the principles that Paul has written about. I will be contacting church members in the next few days to put them into various study groups.

My former Association Minister, Nancy Nelson Elsenheimer, who is now Senior Co-Pastor of Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix, says this about I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church - "Every church in the 21st century needs to think of itself as a new church start."

We have just finished celebrating our 150th anniversary in Troy. The quality of our upcoming years will largely be determined by embracing - or not embracing - the principles that Paul Nixon puts forth in his book.

Let's have a new church start right now and 150 more years of ministry will look fresh, exciting, and possible!

- The Frayed Alb

November 30, 2007


Stepping out into the Internet waters. A blog of my own. Yeah, I can see it now - The trumpets blaring, the timpani crashing.

Seriously, I've toyed with the idea of doing a blog for some time. One of my must reads over the past few years has been a Texas Baptist preacher named Gordon Atkinson. He has created quite a bit of notoriety for himself by writing a blog called Real Live Preacher. As he puts it - "I had this funny picture in my head of a freak-show barker shouting 'Come, and see a Real Live Preacher!'" The blog is so popular that he is published in The Christian Century, which has been required reading for me since I started seminary in the late 1970's.

Gordon talks about many things in his blog and I propose to do that too. There will be times in which I will talk about the church I am currently serving (mostly that) or have served, the United Church of Christ, my theology and the development of it over the years of thinking, about faith matters, about my understanding of how it all works out.

I won't have all the answers any more than you would expect that I would. But I will publish my thoughts, recommendations, challenges, and mostly talk about where I see Christianity, faith, the Church, culture and life intersecting with each other.

BTW, why The frayed Alb? The word alb comes from my first name and last initial, but it also comes from the name of the servant garment that I sometimes wear when I'm leading worship services. I have always preferred it to the clerical robe. The alb is more of a servant garment and the clerical robe more of an academic garment.

The frayed bit comes from the reality that we are all frayed, incomplete, works in progress, maybe a bit rough around the edges - you get the picture.

Anyway, until something better comes along, we'll go with
The frayed Alb.

I hope you enjoy the blog. Til' later.....

The Frayed Alb