Monday, June 18, 2007

The Audacious Campaign

At this past Annual Conference there were many opportunities to experience the living God. We began with worship remember some of the saints of the church who have died in this past year. We welcomed new clergy to the conference and we recognized the ministry of others by declaring them to be Elders and full members of the Annual Conference (WAY TO GO KENDRA!) We voted for a delegation to attend General and Jurisdictional conference. We played basketball to raise funds for “nothing but nets.” We visited the injured in the Emergency Room. We met to in committees to talk about the values of our Annual Conference and what we would like to say to the whole denomination. We sent legislation to the General Conference asking that body to truly include all persons in ministry including, eliminating the phrase “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”, removing the performing of Holy Unions as a chargeable offence against clergy, and declaring that we believe homosexuality should not be a barrier to ordination. We worshiped and shared in communion each day. We approved a budget allowing for 6 district superintendents, increase the current number by one.

But let me tell you about “The Audacious Campaign.”

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a colleague in Seattle who wanted to have a discussion about sending a clergy person under 40 to General Conference. A few others joined the discussion a blog was even created. We shared a common value of wanting to send someone under 40 who was serving a local church. After talking with a few others who were likely candidates, I decided to let it be known that I would be willing to be a candidate, thus starting “The Audacious Campaign.” At the time I was reading Barak Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” and I thought it was a rather audacious thing to say “I would like to go.” E-mails were sent seeking support and eventually I was nominated to be a candidate for election.

After the first clergy ballot at Annual Conference I received 44 votes placing me tied in 5th place. Some of the Gen X clergy gathered to talk about a voting strategy and they laid hands upon me to pray as we sought guidance in the process. On the 8th ballot I became the 5th person elected which makes me the second alternate to General Conference and a voting member of the Jurisdictional Conference.

As the second alternate I plan to pay for my way to attend the General Conference that begins April 23, 2008. I believe it will be a good learning experience for me and perhaps I can help our voting members by being an observer. I am very much looking forward to being a voting member of the Jurisdictional Conference that will take place in July 2008, where I will likely have the opportunity to vote for a new Bishop!

Please pray for me as I prepare for these two important gatherings of the United Methodist Church.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sermon Notes June 17, 2007

I Kings 19:1-15a
Luke 8:26-39

Where or when do you notice God in your life? Is it as you are watching “Dancing with the stars”, “Survivor” or the Mariners baseball game on TV? Is it as you are in a rush to get to the next thing and all the lights seem to be red? Is it as you discover that all your laundry has turned pink because of a red sock in the Dryer?

Probably not. Elijah is in trouble. He knows this much. What he doesn’t know is what to do about it. Elijah has just had a great victory and he is in trouble, for while the battle is won he is now all alone. Elijah considers the powers of Wind, Earth and Fire and he does not find God there. You know that in many parts of the ancient world Wind, Earth and Fire are considered the basic elements of the earth. They are powerful and sometimes they are even worshiped. Yet Elijah does not find God there.

Elijah finds God in the Silence.

Where do you find God and why do you spend so much time with that which takes you away from God?

In the Gospel we encounter a crazy man. This dude is out of his mind. He runs around the countryside without clothes and is uncontainable. He has little regard for his well being. Yet it is this crazy man that is immediately able to identify who Jesus is. We then have this fantastic account of how Jesus heals this man of his demons and sends the demons to the pigs who then jump off a cliff. It’s a pretty cool story but we must pause here for a minute.

What is JESUS doing in a country where there are people raising PIGS? We all know that pigs are unclean for Jewish people. They don’t eat port, and they don’t raise pigs for pets. What is Jesus doing here? This is scandalous. Jesus shouldn’t be there.

Then what does he do? When the man he has healed ask to become a disciple and to follow him Jesus says something extraordinary. He says, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.”

When you encounter the living God do you tell anyone about it or do you remain silent afraid others will think you are a bit strange?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sermon Notes June 3, 2007

Peace with Justice Sunday

Proverbs: All this stuff is God’s
Romans: 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Today is Peace with Justice Sunday. We can generally accept that it is true that without Justice there is no Peace. I want to add that without Economic Justice there can be no Peace.

Extreme Poverty according to the World Bank is an income of $1 a day (1 billion people), Moderate Poverty is defined as $2 a day with 2.7 billion people living at that level. Nearly HALF of the world population lives on an income of $2 a day or less.

In many developed countries the official definition of poverty used for statistical purposes is based on relative income. As such many critics argue that poverty statistics measure inequality rather than material deprivation or hardship. For instance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46% of those in "poverty" in the U.S. own their own home (with the average poor person's home having three bedrooms, with one and a half baths, and a garage

In the United States poverty was set at $19,350 for a family of four for 2007.

Minimum wage in WA State is $7.93 (highest in the U.S.) Recently President Bush signed a law raising minimum wage gradually to $7.25 in 2009, currently the Federal minimum wage is $5.15.

Imagine the possible situation for person living on minimum wage. Minimum wage Job “full time” 32 hours / week, minus taxes brings that to approximately $995 per month. Obviously in our society that is not enough income for basic needs.

Rent $500
Utilities $200
Food $200
Gas $120
Car Insurance $100
Credit Card $75 ($4,000 debt, minimum payments, 116 months to pay off)
Total $ 1,195 (a negative balance of $200 for our poor worker)

The averabe Americans’ average credit card debt is $8400 per household.
Americans pay, on average, an 18.9% interest rate on credit cards.
More than 40% of American families spend more than they earn. (Federal Reserve).
The average worker earned $41,861, while the average CEO made $10.9 million, or 262 times that of the average worker. (2005)
From 1992 to 2005, the average CEO saw his or her pay rise by 186.2%, while the median worker saw wages rise by 7.2%.

Economic Justice is necessary for world peace.

When we achieve better economic equity in our country there will be more help available for those living in the poorest nations of the world. We must close the gap between the richest and the poorest of our nation, peace is dependent upon a stable middle class.

Economic equity is closely tied to our ability to recognize that all of this stuff belongs to God. Our hope must not come from how much stuff we are able to have, but in our relationships with each other and with our God.