Monday, October 31, 2011

Church Leadership Ideas

I subscribe to "Leading Ideas" which comes as a free resource from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.  The first article by Reggie McNeal is "Fast Forwarding Your Church's Community Engagement."  As we all rediscover what it means for our churches to missionally reengage with our communities this article is very helpful.  Reggie reminds us that one in five Americans are sure about their belief in God but never attend church.  So people are out there ready to be engaged about their faith.  Click here for the link.

A second resource is about asking good questions.  Author Debra Meyerson suggests some questions when fearing consequences of potential actions.

  • What might happen if you take this course of action?
  • What are the worst things that could happen?
  • Why are you afraid of these outcomes?
  • How bad would it be if feared outcomes materialize?
I offer these resources to you as Alaska lay and clergy leaders working to make disciples of Christ to change the world.

Grace Always,


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Native Storytelling Event

I believe that all human societies should make time to listen to the wisdom of people who lived for centuries in the land they now inhabit.  To be sure our God speaks to us through the stories and experiences of people who have learned to live in harmony with creation.

Last Sunday Charlie Brower, an Inupiaq man from Barrow, whaling captain, retired engineer and businessman, member of St. John, and chair of our Native Ministries Committee, asked several native American leaders from the lower 48 to share their stories.  About 100 children and adults gathered to listen and laugh as stories of native people were shared.  We were reminded of the importance of names, of the meaning of a special dancing dress with patches from service in Iraq, and of brokenness and healing.

I want to share some photos and to encourage our churches to observe Native American Sunday this year.  For resourcing go to

This video clip depicts an Alaskan flute played for the first time.

Grace Always,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Preparing the Way for God to Do a New Thing

I am not a fan of musicals with one exception.  I love "Godspell."  I love the music, the acting, and the story.  The opening song is called "Prepare Ye."  Echoing the words of John the Baptist it proclaims softly and then builds with anticipation.  Pre....pare ye the way of the Lord.  Pre....pare ye the way of the Lord.  

Alaska United Methodists are doing what we can to prepare the way for the Lord to do a new thing in our midst.  We are refocusing on our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  When it comes to our structure we are discerning our way towards a more streamlined and nimble structure that will respond to the missional needs of the people in Alaska.  

For example, we currently meet as conference leaders three times a year.  We want the primary purpose of our gatherings to be on learning how to grow and make disciples rather than administration.  So we are thinking of a Leadership Team or Table that would include 15 leaders from around the state.  This group would wear many hats such as trustees, pension board, outdoor ministries, and acting on behalf of the annual conference.  We would retain PMU and CFA and Nominations.  Missional subgroups that reflect our core values could be Native Ministries, Congregational Revitalization, New Ministries, and Leadership Development.  The goal is to create a structure that helps us redirect the flow of energy towards revitalizing our congregations who are effective in making disciples of Christ.

Bishop Hagiya is leading this task group.  Members include Nora Ortiz Frederick, Lonnie Brooks, Leila Disburg, Luther Oconer, Charles Martindell, and Dave Beckett.  We have reviewed the 61 survey respondents and are open to hearing from lay and clergy.  We want to engage one another in a dialogue over the coming months with the plan of approving a new structure at annual conference next May.  

Please look for communications coming to you via the E-Aurora, Aurora Witness, and the conference website.

Grace Always,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Party at Aldersgate

Aldersgate UMC in Juneau celebrated 25 years as an active presence of God's grace in action in the Mendenhall Valley last weekend.  I was there along with my wife, Kim.  She had never been to Juneau and I asked her to go with me as a birthday gift.  I also had not met Pastor Susan Boegli's husband, Ken, and daughter, Megan.  I was not able to find Megan for this picture but here is Susan and Ken after worship.
Another highlight for us was to see Fred and Sharon Cooper.  The Cooper's were instrumental in helping to launch Aldersgate back in the day.  Sharon is a retired diaconal minister whose music ministry and contemplative prayer ministry blessed Alaska for many years.  Fred is a retired Alaska state trooper who was the pilot for many of our governors.  Here is a clip of Sharon's sermon on Sunday.
And for those with a long history in the Alaska conference who know and remember the Cooper's, here is a photo.

Happy 25th, Aldersgate UMC.  You have a rich history and a blessed future if you stay focused on God and God's mission.

Grace Always,