Thursday, November 01, 2007

it is november

November is upon us. In our congregation we observe All Saints' on Sunday, and it is one of the significant Sundays of the year. We will name those who have died in the past twelve months, celebrate Holy Communion, and acknowledge the service of the Bereavement Committee and the Stephen Ministers. Then, later in November, we move on to Stewardship Sunday and Christ The King. And then we are in Advent...I spent a day and two nights at Kanuga this week, with a small planning group that is contemplating the future of the Pastor-Theologian program, which was housed, in its first nine years, at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey. The generous funding of the Lilly Endowment is no longer a part of what we are doing, and CTI is no longer our institutional home. And yet there is the sense that the conversation needs to continue. Wallace Alston, former director of CTI, and prior to that the senior pastor of Nassau Presbyterian, on the campus of Princeton, NJ, is our leader, and the discussions are always lively. He is a wonderful model for theologically substantive pastoral leadership. We took some important but small steps; we have in mind some regional groups, including one or more in Canada. The past model, which brings together a group of pastors for reading and writing, along with a resource theologian, has been a good one. I hope something resembling what has gone before will emerge. I am hopeful....Last night was Halloween. I decided to stay at the church--we had cancelled many of our church programs (which says something about us, I know...), but a party was thrown for the Joy Class, which is a group of developmentally disabled men and women who have PUMC their church home. Russ and Ruth are their leaders, and Delores made hot dogs, chili, slaw, beans, etc. It was a happy feast.. We only had one trick or treater anyway; we live on a small hill, and I think most children do some kind of cost-benefit analysis, and choose not to ascend to our front porch. At least that is my guess...I will conclude my service, this December, as the book review editor of Circuit Rider. I have been at this for almost six years, I think, and in the past year happily turned a few of the responsibilities over to Patricia Farris in California and Andy Kinsey in Indiana. It has been a nice role, and a way to contribute to the intellectual life of the clergy of our tradition....I saw "Into The Wild" last week. It is an amazing movie. I highly recommend it....It is November, as I mentioned earlier, and the weather this afternoon and evening has been mild summer weather---shorts, short sleave shirt, docksiders. I have to remind myself that I live in North Carolina and not north Florida. Jack from Haiti and I plan to be at the Bobcats opening night tomorrow; I am ready for basketball season, even though Duke is young and inexperienced and UNC is loaded. Back to Wallace Alston: his son Mackey is a filmmaker, and his documentary, "The Killer Within", will be shown on the Discovery Channel on Monday evening (11/5). Pam and I saw it at the CTI Annual Conference in June; it is worth seeing, or recording, if you have digital recording, which I hope you do. And back to Kanuga: on the way home I stopped by Wildflour Bakery in Saluda, with two friends in tow, who happen to be Canadians. One mentioned, more than once, that the bran muffin was the best she had ever tasted. If you are in the area, stop in; it's a bohemian kind of place that serves excellent food. That particular morning, everyone was dressed in Halloween garb, shoveling huge mounds of dough into ovens, pouring coffee, putting together a little morning feast.


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