Saturday, October 07, 2006

a busy week

Twice a year I experience two periods of time, usually about eight days in length, when everything happens. As best as I can tell, my schedule has been this way for twenty years. These are all good things, activities I choose to be involved with, but it all comes together in the middle of the fall and as winter turns to spring, and it all happens at once.

In the church, this time of year, there are evaluations, of self and others; there is charge conference preparation; there is the financial stewardship campaign, there is the nomination of next year's leaders. In our church we are also completing a capital campaign and entering the critical phase of a music director search.

Beyond the church, I spent two days this week in Nashville with a group of bright and dedicated people from across the United Methodist connection: Will Willimon leads the gathering, which is a commissioned study of ministry in the United Methodist Church, and I won't go any farther with name-dropping, lest I leave someone out. It is not a group of shrinking violets, and there is much at stake: should elders itinerate (move around), and should we be "entitled" to a guaranteed appointment; should deacons celebrate the sacraments and should they be assigned by bishops; should local pastors celebrate the sacraments, and should they be able to vote at annual conference (and be represented at general conference)? These are some of the questions we are pondering.

Beyond these admittedly functional questions are other issues, related to measurement of effecive ministry, participation in accountability groups and in mentoring relationships, and ecumenical implications of ordained practices. Tom Frank of Emory is writing on behalf of our group, and he strikes me as a wise and reflective leader.

Then a day in Charlotte, and then a short drive to Brevard, where I have recently begun service as a Trustee. Brevard is a small, distinctive school situated in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest. I am happy to help this school in any way that I can, and I encourage you to learn more about Brevard at the link on this site, listed under "schools". They have an exceptional President, Drew Van Horn, who is leading the school into a stronger future, and they have a compassionate chaplain, Shelly Webb, who is also a good friend. Their strengths have been in music and in environmental studies, although new emphases seem to be emerging.

Small, church-related schools serve a great purpose in our society, and they change both the lives of those who study there and the churches with whom they are historically related. Brevard has many strengths, and it is an excellent match for a student who wants to explore his or her vocation in a beautiful setting, among faculty and staff who seem committed to genuinely knowing and caring about them.

The Board of Trustees meeting ended, and after having one last meal in the dining hall there, I drove back to Charlotte, on a beautiful fall day.


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