The first time I met Adam Hamilton (pictured here), he was an associate or assistant pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Kansas City, and he conducted the funeral service for the mother of one of my Kansas City Star colleagues.
I am delighted to say all these years later that I could not have been more wrong. Adam, founding pastor of the huge United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kan., not only has shown that mainline churches have a future, but he has become a nationally and globally sought-after author and speaker. And today one of my daughters and her family are members of COR.
Indeed, when my congregation called our current senior pastor, Paul Rock, in late 2010, one of the first things I did was to have Paul sit down for lunch with Adam to talk about doing ministry in this area. Paul knew quite well who Adam was, having read some of his books as Paul worked on his doctor of ministry degree at Drew University.
Recently my friend David Crumm, former religion writer for the Detroit Free Press and current editor of ReadTheSpirit.com, sat down with Adam for this in-depth conversation. The occasion was the publication of Adam's new book, Making Sense of the Bible.
I haven't yet had a chance to read this book, but David's interview with Adam gives us lots of clues about what it contains. I'm especially pleased that Adam takes a stand against a strictly literalistic reading of the Bible. He says of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis, for instance:
If we free ourselves from all this noise from some of the Fundamentalists about this somehow conflicts with science, then we can begin to appreciate again the deeper truths here. Did a snake appear and speak in a garden in the literal way the scene is described in Genesis? That’s not the point. The point is the real truth of such an experience: Who among us hasn’t heard a serpent speaking to us at some moment in our lives? We’ve all faced temptation—haven’t we? And, often, that temptation feels as real as a serpent speaking to us.
I think Adam is helping to provide one promising road forward for mainline Protestant churches. And I think other pastors can learn a lot from him.
Heck, I might even be willing to have him preach at my funeral some day. Well, if he becomes a Presbyterian.
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AND SEXIST, TOO
What surprise -- anti-Islam stuff coming from people at Fox News. This time it's Fox News host Bob Beckel saying he once considered converting to Islam for the so-called promise of 72 virgins for certain Muslim males in heaven. If this is the kind of garbage some members of the media are spitting forth, no wonder Islamophobia has gained traction in the U.S.
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P.S.: It's almost, but not quite, too late to sign up for my class called "From Pain to Hope Through Writing" April 29 and 30 at the Heartland Center of Heartland Presbytery in Parkville, Mo. For details and to register, click here or download this pdf: Download Heartland-Writing-final.