Busy Week

May 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Religion, Young Adult, Youth 

This is gonna be a very busy week.  I’m going to be out and about in several communities with lots of activities.  Perhaps I’ll meet you at one of them.

Yesterday the ball started rolling with the God Complex radio show at noon EDT.  That went very well.  Later in the evening I had the Board of Deacons meeting at church which also went very well and very fast.

This morning I’m going to have to mow the lawn due to the impending days of rain (again).

This afternoon I’m going to the Presbytery of New Brunswick meeting, and assisting in the pre-presbytery event on “Working with Facebook”.  Before the meeting I have a networking meeting with someone in New Brunswick.

Tomorrow is relatively quiet.  A networking meeting in the morning, and the DVRA ham radio club meeting in the evening.  I may go get my driver’s license renewed during the day – it’s time again.

Thursday afternoon begins the Princeton Seminary Institute for Youth Ministry Conference on Emerging Adulthood.  That runs Thursday afternoon and evening, all day Friday, and Saturday morning.  Friday evening, I’ll miss dinner and the recreation to attend a fundraising dinner “Southern Hospitality on the Lawn” related to my church.

Saturday morning I’ll miss rehearsal for Deacon Sunday.  Saturday evening my church youth group is holding a Cabaret and Silent Auction fundraiser for the summer trips.

Sunday morning is Deacon Sunday (I’m doing the Call to Worship), grocery delivery for Crisis Ministry in Trenton and the end of year party for our customers, and the Worship in a New Key service.

Monday I may get to see Carolyn again.  This is really a nutty week.

Ham and Eggs – Breakfast with Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow

November 12, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

(I forgot to bring my camera, but Sara didn’t.  Pictures as soon as I get them from her.)

Today Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow – the Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA) – came to Lawrenceville, NJ.  The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville hosted him for the 2nd time for breakfast and conversation.

I’m not going to go into details on any issue in particular for several reasons.  One – I don’t remember the details so well.  Two – this post is about both national issues and my local congregation, and I’m reticent to be controversial locally.  Three – at one point Bruce said “Let me get my words right – you never know who is blogging about this” and a number of folks from my church reportedly looked at me.  Hmmm.

The group of about 50-60 that attended was made up primarily of ministers serving in a congregational capacity – mostly from the Presbytery of New Brunswick but also from quite far away in some cases.  There was a smaller contingent of seminarians, another group of non-congregational ministers, and some others who aren’t ministers from our congregation and other places (like me).

The food was excellent – egg strada, homebaked breads, and lots of fruit.  The tables were particularly well-decorated.

The conversation took the form of about 90 minutes of question and answer.  The topics varied broadly but included:

  • Multi-cultural churches – how they succeed and when they might fail
  • New Church Developments, including tips from Bruce based on his experiences at Mission Bay Community Church
  • The use of web 1.0 and web 2.0 technology in ministry, including the upcoming re-design of the PC(USA) website
  • Bringing even the smallest PC(USA) churches onto the Internet through the use of single-page websites for the church (at a cost that Bruce estimated to be about $100 per church)
  • Preserving mission in an era when church budgets may be shrinking
  • Shrinking congregations – when is it appropriate to talk about the end of a congregation’s life?  How do we talk about leaving a legacy through the church’s property and other assets?
  • Supporting small congregations that are not New Church Developments, do not believe they are at the end of their life, and want to redevelop.
  • Providing a living wage for pastors in small churches
  • Campus ministry and keeping young adults engaged with the church
  • Seminaries realizing that not all graduates will be able to go into full-time ministry, and potentially helping them get ready for 1/2-time ministry, 1/2-time something else
  • Information on how many appointments the Moderator makes after General Assembly (a very high 100+ this time around), and how little impact the Moderator has on the work of those task forces after making the appointments
  • Praise for New Brunswick presbytery for having enough interest to need a waiting list for the Social Witness Committee
  • an off-hand reference to “Friends Are Friends Forever” that went over the heads of anybody who wasn’t in the 30-45 age group
  • a reminder that Bruce and Vice-Moderator Byron Wade are willing to send video greetings to any group that requests such far enough in advance

I know that I’m missing some of the topics, but that’s most of them.

As always Bruce was engaging, funny, very authentic and willing to tackle the tough questions.  I’m impressed that while he is clearly more comfortable addressing groups of strangers now that he has 6 months of Moderator experience under his belt, he still speaks very openly and authentically and humbly.  His content and delivery are surprisingly consistent between his in-person appearances, his blog writings, and his blog videos (and his tweets on Twitter for that matter).

In short – a good time was had by all, and it was worth getting up early to be there.

Thanks, Bruce, for including Lawrenceville in your NYC/NJ trip.

Theology on Tap

September 14, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Church New Member Process, Religion, Young Adult 

Theology on Tap

The Princeton, NJ Nassau and Witherspoon Street Presbyterian churches, the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, and the Princeton Seminary have jointly started a young adult program called “Theology on Tap”.  Every 2nd Thursday this fall (and if last night is any indication, it will continue beyond fall) at 8pm young adults gather at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room of the Nassau Inn in Princeton for community and some light theological discussion.

Last night was the first event.  I estimate that 20-25 people showed up by the time I left at 9:30 (gotta be at work today).  There was a mix of church members, church leaders (clergy and staff), and seminarians plus perhaps one or two “bring a friend” folks.  I heard some folks saying that they’d invite friends to the next one, and I know that the postcards (with the image above) were taken to be given out.  We may have more people next time.  Ages ranged from the low 20’s through me at near 40, to a few who I suspect were older than 40.

Each of us was given an 18oz glass (call it a pint) with the PCUSA logo on one side and “Theology on Tap” on the other.  We used them for drinking and were able to take them home.  (I’m not clear on whether or not to bring them back for the next meeting.)  Only one was broken – my fault – I stood up to let somebody by and the chair hit the table behind me and it tipped and CRASH!  Oops.

The meeting organizers bought food for the group, and the rest of us paid for our drinks.  I suspect that the glasses were the biggest expense and otherwise this program is pretty inexpensive to run.

After a short introduction of everybody to everybody, we broke into small group and were asked to discuss any burning theological questions.  The questions weren’t easy.  At my table (from memory, I think I’m missing a few):

  • What does Jesus’ death on the cross mean to me?
  • Is God still involved in the world today?  Does prayer work?
  • A brief discussion on the Trinity and the paradox of three-in-one
  • A statement on morality and society
  • Where do people of other faiths fit into God’s plan and/or salvation?

As I said – that’s what I remember.  I think we covered 6 or 7 just throwing ideas around.  The crowd was highly educated on the relevant issues – the few who weren’t ministry professionals or seminary students were highly involved laypeople like me.  After the theology the group continued with basic socializing.

For those on Facebook, there is a group for Theology on Tap in Princeton at Theolodoodle.

Now for my personal impressions.

I’m a fairly strong introvert, though I can present a brave face to new people and the less sensitive might not pick me out as an introvert.  Because of that, parties (and hanging out at a bar counts) tend to sap my energy.  I generally don’t enjoy them.  I tend to arrive early and leave early.

Last night was nothing like that.  I felt comfortable with the folks that I met and felt that “instantly comfortable” feeling with the new folks that I met.  I left at 9:30 not because I wanted to, but because I had to get sleep before going to work today.  That’s rare for me – I usually leave because I want to but last night I left because I had to.

The other rare thing is that I liked everybody that I met.  That is nearly unique in my experience and it is unique to church-related events (Youth Advisory Delegate events, church camp, and this).  I enjoyed meeting Barbara, Kate’s friends Sarah and Sarah (apologies if the spelling is wrong) and Grier at our small table.  I enjoyed meeting the others in other groups and next time I’ll make sure to mingle more with people that I don’t know.  I was also pleasantly surprised at how well I fit in at almost-40 with the folks from age 23 to slightly-older-than-me.

The theological discussion was also deep and meaningful for its brevity.  These folks have actually thought about the questions and have something very real to say.  It was all said without judgment of those who hold an alternative view.

I’m 90% sure that I’ll be there for the 3 scheduled meetings to come.  I might miss next month because of my schedule.  I’m also going to see if Carolyn wants to come.

If you’re in the Princeton area and interested in meeting some great people and talking theology, stop by on the 2nd Thursday starting at 8pm!