12 hours of church

April 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion 

(Most of my readers will be here looking for news on the Moderator Candidate event last Friday.  It went really well – and I want to give it more time than I have right now when I write it up.  So today you get other news.)

Yesterday, I spent 12 hours doing church stuff.

First, I got to church a few minutes early so that I could return and put away the tablecloths from Friday’s event.

Then I got roped into preparations for Confirmation Sunday.  I helped settle the confirmands and get them busy filling out surveys on the whole process, and then got sent on an errand to get an older youth or two to help sell hoagies that the Boy Scouts donated to us.  Those sales benefit the summer’s mission trip and trip to Montreat.

The Confirmation portion of the worship service was wonderful.  We received 11 9th graders as full members of the church.  Each was invited to come forward with their mentor, and in pairs they were received through kneeling and laying on of hands by the pastors, their mentors and the youth director.  Then the congregation read words of welcome as one, and we followed with the hymn “Here I Am, Lord” (one of my favorites from Camp Johnsonburg).  It was all very moving.

After the service there was cake and such celebrating the confirmands.  There was a little unpleasantness as an attendee (former member married to a still-member) behaved badly and scared some people, but after that the room turned brighter.  Later the confirmands, parents, mentors, and a few others like me gathered to close out the process with recognition of the mentors and confirmands and prayer.

I left that to go to the Lawrenceville Main Street Jubilee street fair.  The church got a table at the Jubilee for the first time in years.  The primary purpose was so that my Project Open Door team could survey the community to find out how they perceive the church.  We gave away cookies made by church members and asked many adults and children if they could spare the time for a 5-question survey.  In 4 hours we managed to complete something like 100 to 150 surveys!  Our goal had been 50 or so surveys for all 3 events that we chose to be at, so this was wonderful.  There is some good feedback in all that data.  The only downside to this afternoon is that the gray skies and cold temperatures gave me false security, and without a hat my poor bald scalp got scorched.  It’s not that bad today.

Then back to the church for an hour or so of downtime.  I changed into my evening clothes and had time for about an hour nap before it was time for the youth group activity.

Our Senior High youth group partnered with two other churches in the area through Presbyterian Youth Connection to clean up the path along the Delaware and Raritan canal in Lawrenceville.  Confirmation hampered our numbers, but our church fielded 4 adults and 1 youth.  Another church brought 2 adults and 2 youth, and the 3rd church fielded 3 or 4 adults and about 20 youth.  We worked for about 30 minutes and cleared an area about 20 feet wide and 400 feet long.  It was tough because the terrain was a steep bank from the road down to the path, and then another bank to the canal.  We found a few interesting items among the 7-11 coffee cups, soda bottles and beer cans – one gay porn DVD, a “teach your child French, age newborn to 2” CD, and an entire purse that was stolen from the nearby mall 5 months ago.  We hauled out about 8 or 9 full bags of trash and about 3 or 4 of recyclables.

After that we headed back to the Lawrenceville church and had pizza with the entire group.  This was followed by a short discussion and devotional on Earth Day and stewardship of the earth.

Then I went home – arriving almost exactly 12 hours after I had left in the morning.

It was a good day.

Vacation and topics

May 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Admin 

I will be on vacation next week.

This is not a “go somewhere and see the sights” vacation.  My wife and I (and my entire family for that matter) tend to plan to do too much on a “go someplace” vacation.  What I NEED right now is to relax – to plan one activity at day at most and sleep until my body says it’s had enough sleep.

But who are we kidding – I’ll be doing some stuff.

Monday I plan to go to Camp Johnsonburg and help out replacing light ballasts and fixtures to complete their conversion to lower energy lighting.  They have to have it done by the end of the month to get the grant from the local utility and they still have a ways to go.

Later in the week I plan to go flying again, since my blood pressure is under control again and I can.

My wife needs to replace her 1996 Chrysler Concorde, and we’ll go car shopping next week.  We’ll combine one trip with my need to get the oil changed in my Highlander Hybrid.

On Sunday, my church is holding a choir concert featuring works inspired by the Song of Solomon.  THAT should be interesting.

I know that I owe you a few posts.  One on Youth Sunday – if you can’t wait until I get that written you can go here to see pictures, or here to listen to the sermons (April 22, 2007).  I also owe you a post on the opera Rigoletto by the Boheme Opera company in Trenton – that’ll get done soon.

I also want to write something about the loss of church members when they graduate from high school and drop out of church during or after college.  It hasn’t gelled yet, so I’ll be writing that when the spirit strikes.

I’ll be back at work on the 14th.

Busy Week

April 18, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Sports 

Here’s my crazy schedule for the rest of the week.

Wednesday – 6:30 – 8:30pm – Youth Sunday rehearsal
Thursday – 6pm – 10pm – Trenton Titans playoff game
Friday – 6:30pm – 10:30pm – Trenton Titans playoff game (if they win Thursday)
Saturday – 10:30am – 1pm – Youth Sunday rehearsal

Then Sunday:
8:45am – leave for church
9am – 9:30am – set up for Earth Day adult forum
9:30am – be adult shepherd for ushers for Youth Sunday
10am – Youth Sunday service
11am-ish – as soon as the service is over, run directly to the lounge
11:15am – be the speaker for the 1st 15 minutes of the Earth Day adult forum
Noon – Adult Forum ends, go home
1:30pm – leave for opera (Boheme OperaRigoletto)
1:45pm – pre-curtain talk (always worth the time)
3pm – 6pm – opera
6:30pm – come home, collapse

Unfortunately, I have to miss the post-Youth Sunday service lunch with all participants in order to do the Earth Day presentation.

Updated Environmental Stewardship paper

April 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Environment, Religion 

I’ve made a few tweaks to the Environmental Stewardship paper posted previously, at the request of the church’s Green Team.  The new file is attached at the link below.

Download Environmental_Stewardship.pdf (163.7K)

A Little Busy

April 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion 

Church has me a little busy right now.

The Green Team has decided that for our Adult Forum on Earth Day, the program will include me first doing the Biblical basis, one of the co-chairs doing the science behind our environmental problems, and a 3rd speaker (I don’t remember who) speaking on what each person can do to help.  We’re going to have lots of handouts (including my paper) and some samples of compact fluorescent light bulbs and such.

To that end, I have until the end of next week (April 13) to get my presentation together.  I have 15 minutes to present what is in my paper.  I’m planning a powerpoint presentation with the verses, and I’ll talk to the rest.

I’m also an advisor for the youth group.  April 22 is not only Earth Day, it’s also Youth Sunday – with the youth doing pretty much everything for the service.  I’ll be helping out with planning and execution of that as well.  At this point, I’ve been appointed “King of the Ushers”.  Hopefully we won’t have a Fall of the House of Usher.

The Tuesday after Easter I have a meeting scheduled with the pastor to talk about a new initiative related to visitors, seekers, and how the church is perceived by them and the community.  That is right up my alley (as my other blog posts have indicated) and I’m really looking forward to this.

The church is in the final stages of calling a new Associate Pastor – Mary Alice Lyman.  She will be preaching on April 15 with a Special Congregational Meeting immediately following to vote on her call.  On April 14 there is a reception in the evening to meet her, and there’s a pancake breakfast on the 15th for the same purpose.

Things should quiet down a bit towards the end of the month.  It’s a good kind of busy.

Green Church Options

March 14, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Environment, Religion 

The report of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church “Green Team” to the Buildings and Grounds committee is complete.

We suggested several possibilities for inclusion in the upcoming Capital Campaign.  I say “suggested” rather than “endorsed” because timing prevented the Green Team from meeting and voting on the options.

The proposals are:

  1. Installation of Solar Panels – likely on the Fellowship Center – this is a big dollar project
  2. Switching from fuel oil to biodiesel for heating the church and manse – we concluded that the distribution network isn’t there today but should be soon.  This would cost more, but be cleaner.
  3. Replacing electrical lighting fixtures and incandescent light bulbs with lower energy alternatives (newer long tube ballasts, compact fluorescent bulbs)
  4. Insulating the roof of the Fellowship Center to increase R-value
  5. Lowering thermostats and placing framed instructions on temporarily turning them up in all locations – our new programmable thermostats automatically go back to the programmed setting after 2 hours.  This would involve setting them lower most of the time and turning them up only when a meeting is held in a particular room.
  6. Installing ceiling fans in the Fellowship Center (essentially a big high-ceiling multi-purpose room with basketball hoops)
  7. Installing storm windows in the Meetinghouse (sanctuary) – our historically accurate building does not have them.
  8. Power Vents for Fellowship Center (to pull hot air out of the room in the summer)
  9. Weatherstripping/caulking all buildings

As you can see, most of the recommendations are non-controversial but cost a fair amount of money when done all at once.

The focus of the Green Team should now shift to preparing advocacy and educational presentations for Earth Day (April 22).  We have the “Adult Forum” slot that day after worship.  The youth are leading worship that day, and we may have the environment be the subject of the “Adult Message” that replaces the “Children’s Message” (where the kids all come down front and get a special lesson) on that day.

A Day At Home

February 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion 

Today was “new hot water heater” day.

Our old hot water heater was one of the ones manufactured in the mid-1990’s when the one company that made dip tubes (the tube that forces the cold water to the bottom of the tank) used a different plastic.  Many hot water heaters made then had the dip tubes deteriorate in 2 years or less.  There was a national recall to replace the dip tubes that ended in 2000.

Our dip tube finally fell apart sometime in the last 6-8 months.  For a few months now I’ve been finding little bits of white chalky stuff in the bathtub.  I originally thought it was grout, but after talking to the plumber about our “running out of hot water” problem, it was a bad dip tube.  The hot water heater is the same age as our house – 11 years – so we elected to replace the whole thing for about $1000 installed, rather than spend $200 on just the dip tube and have to replace the whole thing in a few years anyway.

The plumber did a fabulous job.  In about 3 hours he drained the old tank, replaced an old screw tap valve for the humidifier with a real valve, and installed the new one.  He was incredibly neat through the whole process – he didn’t leave as much as a drop of solder or a forgotten screw in the basement and he even used drop cloths between the front door and basement.

If you need plumbing in the Mercer County, NJ area, consider JA Margicin.

This afternoon I did a bank run and then wrote up a paper on the theology of good environmental stewardship.  This is pretty heady stuff for a person who isn’t a religious professional (I had a few classes in college, and spent a lot of time around religious pros).  I think it probably relies too much on Bible quotes and doesn’t have enough explanation in between, but we’ll see.  When it’s done, I promise to post it here.

Now I have to feed the cats, and then go outside and put down ice melt on all of yesterday’s snow that didn’t go away but rather melted and froze into a nice smooth surface.  Then I have to change the cat litter and take out the trash.

At least I wasn’t at work!

Help – Environment and Theology

February 5, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion 

The assignment that I voluntarily took from our church’s Green Team meeting yesterday was as follows:

Dig up the theological basis for environmental stewardship.

Considering that I’m not a professional when it comes to religion (no seminary training here – just some college courses), I could use a little help.

Does anybody have any pointers to documents that can help?  If so, please leave them in the comments.

The Lawrenceville Presbyterian “Green Team”

January 12, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Environment, Religion 

Last night I attended the first meeting of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church “Green Team”.  The Green Team is charged with:

  • Reducing the church’s
    environmental footprint
  • Increasing our visibility
  • Educating our community
  • Inspiring our community
  • Connecting with other organizations
  • Advocating for public policy change
  • Connecting our efforts with our faith

The primary focus to start is to come up with and estimate ideas for the church’s upcoming capital campaign.  To that end we are talking about solar panels on the church, insulation, central A/C and/or geothermal energy for the manse (which is currently using window air conditioners), motion detector light switches, bike racks for parishioners, etc.

I went into the meeting thinking that I’d be really useful to the team given my experience with solar panels for home, a hybrid vehicle, and a few other green ideas from home.  It turns out that this church has some seriously committed environmentalists.  One man has a nearly-zero-energy home, others have been advocating in the community.  I felt like a midget among giants.  I hope that I can contribute.