The reality of life among clergy is that, not unlike people in military uniforms, they move around a fair amount.
The other evening, for instance, I attended a farewell gathering at Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Kansas City for the cathedral's dean, Terry A. White, who has been elected bishop of Kentucky. (That's Terry on the right in this photo, next to Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey in Conception, Mo. I guess when it's your goodbye party you can wear a pineapple shirt and not a clerical collar.)
Terry has been in Kansas City for six years, having come here from the Chicago area, where he had served a couple of churches.
He has done good and faithful work here and I wish him well in Kentucky. To hear what Bishop Barry Howe of the Diocese of West Missouri had to say about Terry at the farewell event, click on this link: Download Bishop Howe. And to hear what Terry himself had to say, click on this link: Download Terry White. Both audio clips are just a few minutes long.
The idea of clergy in motion has been on my mind recently because my own church has called a new pastor, and he is moving to Kansas City this week from New York City, where he's been an associate pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church for the past six years. To see a YouTube video of the Rev. Paul Rock talk about his move to my congregation, click here.
As we anticipate Paul's arrive, we held a farewell celebration this past Sunday at my church for our interim pastor, John Ross, who has served my congregation for a year and four months. That's John you see in the picture on the right with Mark Hash, who helps to lead our AIDS Ministry. John and his wife Tara will be leaving Kansas City and considering other interim possibilities now.
It's both an exciting and a scary time for people like Terry and Paul. In the tradition of Abraham, they have followed what they believe is a call from God to move to a new location and to trust that once there they will figure out what they are to do in obedience to God's call.
A good clergy friend just made such a move from a church Oklahoma to one in Ohio, and he acknowledges that it has taken him some time to find his sea legs in his new location (just as it took Abraham some time to figure it out).
Yes, I know. People in business move a lot, and often from city to city. But the difference for clergy is that they aren't to do it out of personal ambition or for some other selfish reason (of course I know there are exceptions). Rather, they are to do it after doing their best to discern where God would have them be. And figuring that out can be harder than following your own ego. But the testimony of clergy is that it's a wonderful experience when you get it right.
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A BIG-TIME INTERFAITH WEDDING
From the time they fell in love, Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, have attracted speculation about how they will live together as people of different faiths -- Chelsea being Christian and Marc being Jewish. Well, this writer uses the occasion of their wedding as an opportunity to talk about interfaith marriages, which is a good use of the occasion. But because I care so little about alleged celebrities, I'm tempted to wonder why this wedding is any of our business beyond just wishing the couple well.
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THE BOOK CORNER
Connecting Like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching and Preaching, by Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling. As many of you know, Campolo is a fascinating figure who is a bit hard to categorize theologically because, a bit like Jim Wallis, he's an evangelical Christian with a strong prophetic voice calling people to ministries of social justice. He has combined here with a woman who teaches communications to offer insights into ways in which Christians can communicate effectively and passionately with people -- by taking those people seriously. Their argument is that Jesus modeled a profoundly effective way to connect with people so they could hear his message of self-sacrificial love. We can learn from Jesus how to do that ourselves, Campolo and Darling say, so that we can minister effectively to others. This is a book that clergy will find helpful but it also contains good guidance for any Christian who wants to improve his or her ability to learn from others by good listening and to teach others with effective techniques.
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P.S.: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read "Who will be the last Presbyterian?" click here.