Monday, June 27, 2011

Rose McLean's Last Sunday

Last Sunday was Rose McLean's last Sunday at St. John UMC, Anchorage, following 24 years of service as a diaconal minister.  The crowds gathered to hear her preach one more time, roast her unique personality, and thank God for her faithful ministry.

At the party in the afternoon it was standing room only as hundreds came to celebrate Rose's retirement.  Pastor Peter Perry did an exceptional job of being the master of ceremonies.  In attendance was Pastor Wayne Weld Martin, the pastor who hired Rose in 1987.  Recollections were shared from most of the senior pastors whom Rose had "trained" over the years.  Jim Fellers, David Fison, former superintendent Billy Still, Jo Ann Schaadt, John Dodson, and myself.  I had the honor of being "trained" by Rose the longest which was ten years.  We worked together during a period of high growth and led the church through the building expansion.  There was always something to laugh about when Rose was around including how church life always seemed to parallel an episode of Seinfeld, bargain shopping stories, standing ovations, and bets on Christmas Eve attendance.  (I won most of these!)

Seriously, though, our conference will miss Rose.  Over the years she was a tireless advocate for being a connectional church.  She provided significant leadership to our conference Professional Ministries Unit, Birchwood Camp, GBGM, regional program council, jurisdictional, and general church ministries.  Rose is first and foremost a disciple of Jesus, always a work in progress.  And she is wholly dedicated to the Church as a means of God's grace offered to the world.

I know St. John will miss her unique personality and ministry gifts.  I know many Alaskan lay and clergy will miss her presence in our faith community.  And I will be at the top of that list.

This clip is of the St. John choir singing a benediction song followed by Rose giving the benediction after morning worship.  Rose will move to Oklahoma City on September 15.  Her address will be
14901 N. Pennsylvania Ave.  #284
Oklahoma City, OK  73134

Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Interesting Email Debate

The Alaska Conference neglected to deal with an issue in Homer so the bishop allowed us to convene a special virtual session via email.  The issue was whether or not to approve a new minimum salary for pastors for 2012.  So we set aside a week for debate and three days for final voting.

I was interested to compare the oral vs. written debate processes.  I found the email debate to be helpful in a couple of ways.  One, it allowed more time for prayerful reflection.  Some people need more time to organize their thoughts.  Some are gifted with an articulate voice that enables them to speak intelligently on a moment's notice.  This email debate gave us the time to ponder and pray about this issue.

Secondly, it provided an environment for introverted people to express their views.  Many introverts will find it hard to venture forth to a microphone to speak on an issue even in a small conference like ours.  But writing down our thoughts was very helpful.

A 2005 Hartford Seminary study found that destructive conflict is a significant predictor of church decline.  I trust that our clergy and lay leaders will continue to model for our churches and communities respectful dialogue on issues where we differ.  So thanks to all who debated this minimum salary decision with respect for one another.  I'm not sure we should do this more often but it does seem worthy of consideration for some issues.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Samoan United Methodists Celebrate Christian Education

Last Sunday Leila and I had the honor of giving out awards to the children, youth, and adults to a gathered Samoan community from two of our churches.  Pastors Maga and Tafa are committed to bringing First Samoan UMC and the Samoan Fellowship of East Anchorage UMC together.  They swap pulpits, sing in a joint choir, and in this case, held a Christian education competition.

What struck me as we continue conversations about developing discipleship systems in our churches is that I was looking at one.  This was not just for children.  Even the adults participated!  And we concluded the celebration by handing out certificates to 7 new lay speakers.

I plan on sounding like a broken record as I continue to speak the message of lay leadership development in our churches.  You will hear it again and again.  And we can look to these two congregations as leaders in our common mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Here's a short clip.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Party in Homer

Not many UM's would describe their annual conference as a party.  And I admit that as good as this annual conference was, a party?  C'mon, Dave!  This was my 19th Alaska annual conference and the second time it was held outside of Anchorage.  The other was in 1999 in Seward.  I have to say that a pattern seems to be developing because I would rate the two best overall conferences as Seward and Homer.  Perhaps if we were to meet outside Anchorage more often it would lose some of the uniqueness.  But it seems to me that we shouldn't wait another 12 years!  Maybe in 5 years we can meet in Wasilla.

This clip features the opening hymn of our memorial/communion worship. 

My home annual conference is meeting this week.  An old pastor friend of mine is there and he posted this on Facebook:  Conferenced out. Legislated and Roberts Rules of Ordered to death.  What a blessing it is to be part of a small conference where we have the freedom and laid back style to not sacrifice relationships on the altar of rules.  I do enjoy our relationship with PNW annual conference but I do hope we retain our status as a missionary conference.  I think we can provide a model for the denomination on the value of conference connectionalism.  

Here is a clip of our final worship with a combined choir.  

Grace Always,