Have you discovered: Theocademy?

‘Theocademy’  (http://www.theocademy.com/) is one of the best kept secrets in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).   I heard of this series of FREE instructional lessons a few weeks ago.   This Theocademy was developed by Rev. Landon Whitsitt in partnership with several synods and ten Presbyterian Seminaries – and I understand plans are being made to create more lessons.  While these two groups of lessons were developed for New Members and Ruling Elders and Deacons, I believe they would make for an excellent Adult Education series of lessons.   I look forward to viewing new lessons as they are developed.  And yes, as mentioned before, these lessons are FREE!

Dimensions of Wellness

Something I shared in January —

Bound and Nurtured in God's Love

Dimensions of Wellness

After writing a brief blog (https://tomcundiff.com/2014/01/21/ministry-tool-box-i-dare-you-to-live-a-balanced-life/) about William Danforth’s book, “I DARE YOU” I encountered a short article by Kelsey Osterman and Cyntia Ray in Presbyterian Outlook (http://www.pres-outlook.com/) that shares six dimensions of wellness to include in everyday life.  Quote:  

“Physical:  Participation in  regular physical activities.

Intellectual:  Encouraging continued learning, problem solving and creativity.

Vocational:  Having a purpose.  Preparing fdor and participating  in activities that provide personal satisfaction and life enrichment.

Emotional:  Feeling positive and enthusiastic about ourselves and life; recognition of feelings, seeking and maintaining satisfying relationships and stress coping.

Social:  Living in harmony with others and seeking posiutive interdependent relationships with others.

Spiritual:  Having a positive, personal value and belief system that we strive to nurture; acting in ways that are consistent with our values and beliefs.  As we think of wellness, let’s remember that we are whole persons in the…

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It us unfair comparing Saginaw, Michigan to Ferguson, Missouri.  The police departments are roughly the same size.  The population in Saginaw and racial mix of people in the communities are similar.  For me that is where the comparisons end. 

I share my observations as a Presbyterian pastor who recently lived in the city Saginaw.  I do not pretend to know that much about the police of Ferguson, MO.  My observations are based on knowing several in the police community who exemplify the highest of standards and integrity in making law enforcement and public safety their choice for a career.  While Saginaw has it’s  fair share of racial tensions, I do believe the police department is diligent in working to bridge the gaps that exist between police and various groups of citizens.   Some specific thoughts:   

  1. Some police/public safety agencies have better relations with the citizens they protect than others. Some agencies will likely have higher levels of trust in their respective communities while others will be down further on the learning/trust curve.    While the Saginaw Police Department is roughly the same size as Ferguson, MO, we have a department with a chief and officers now meeting regularly with neighborhood associations.  [With Chief Brian Lipe leaving Saginaw, I hope this is an expectation placed on the new chief.] 
  2. We may not have the racial diversity we would like in our Saginaw Police Department. I hear a commitment from the city council and city management that staffing at all levels within the city need to reflect the racial diversity found within the community.  I appreciate hearing that the City Council is proactive in finding creative new ways to fill department vacancies with persons the city encourages to apply to the police academy. 
  3. I believe diversity training has had a positive impact in closing the gap between minority groups in the city. Organizations like Parishioners on Patrol have made a significant difference in closing the racial gap that exists in the city.  Parishioners on Patrol:  http://popstopstheviolence.com/
  4. As the city moves forward, I hope the City Council and Management Team will be diligent in finding ways to provide incentives for police officers and their families to live in the city….those who wish to make the choice to live in the city.

A personal illustration:  I made the decision almost 30 years ago that I wanted to live in the city where I was serving as a pastor.  Now, given what is happening with taxes and depreciating housing stock and the public schools in crisis, I am not sure I would make the same decision.  There are a host of positive things happening in the city culturally.  At the same time, there are few stable and growing neighborhoods.  New housing is a major issue.  Compared to surrounding areas, housing and schools are, in my opinion, a key obstacle for people in making the decision to purchase a home in the city.  Public safety, in my opinion, is improving.   


  1. I have been reading about putting cameras on police officers. I believe cars already have cameras.   This sure sounds like a good idea.  Too many people are anxious to make accusations that can destroy a person’s career.  Cameras would help avoid numerous frivolous law suits.

There was a time when I came to Saginaw in the 80’s that I would see a police car drive down my street on a daily basis.  In recent years I understand police are working almost all the time responding to calls.  The city needs more police. 

Residents of the city of Saginaw need to renew the millage proposal being put before the citizens in November. 

Disclaimer:  For personal reasons, my wife and I made the decision to move out of the city.  Once serving as a pastor of the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church, my heart will always be in the city.   I will continue to do business in the city.    



Joint Statement of Historic African American Clergy ……

In searching for information from the black religious community in how to respond to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, I turned to this joint statement worth sharing in this blog.  I am feeling it is going to be impossible for me as a white pastor to fully comprehend or empathize with those who experience these egregious crimes in the African American Communities every day.

Systemic racism and white privilege are realities that must be addressed if we are to live in a society where more blacks are profiled and shot than whites.   I know that issues of poverty and crime and homelessness need to be addressed and dismantled.  There is hard work that needs to be done in putting more minority police on our streets who live in local neighborhoods–sensitizing law enforcement to the issues that young black men (and women) face living in distressed communities.  Simply, too many young black men are being killed!

This issue also bothers me because of the good and competent police officers I know who are trying to exercise good judgment.   But more can always be done to help us grow in the important work we are called to do.

The bottom line:  I have many more questions than answers.   I want to continue listening to what my colleagues, of all backgrounds, have to say in addressing these social ills.

Let’s continue to be in prayer for healing in Ferguson and cities across the country in standing firm as advocates for equality and basic human rights.   Let’s pray justice and peace on our streets.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8  NRSV)


[By the say, I am sorry if original blog today didn’t get through.  I tried to do some editing and an old draft version appeared that I had to take down]



The most glorious, magnificent body I have ever seen is the body in front of me when  leading worship.  The most gorgeous of all bodies I have seen at work is the group of church members sweating and dirty after trimming bushes and pulling weeds.  Watching the arms and legs and minds and hearts working together sitting around a board room conducting church business is truly a sight to behold – Christ’s Body at work!       

The most powerful image I have found within the entire New Testament comes from Paul and his writing to the Corinthians:  We are the Body of  Christ.   I like to add a few adjectives:  We are the vibrant, living and breathing Body of Christ

While the historical Jesus who lived thousands of years ago is no longer walking with us, God has empowered us to be his body in doing now, and forever, all that Jesus was able to give the world years ago.  As the living body of Christ, we are called to do and be in the world all that Christ would be doing if with us today.   We are fed and nourished in doing Christ’s work through Word and Sacraments.   We are empowered by God to do Christ’s work in the church and world. 

Hear these words that come directly from St. Paul—I Corinthians 12: 4-31:

4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.


12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.


14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.


27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Bound and Nurtured in God’s Love’ is the name I have given this blog.   Bound together and nurtured through Word and the Sacraments, we become the faithful, pulsating, living and breathing organism called the body of Christ.  We live institutionally as what has been known as “church”.  As a body we always live our lives beyond the walls of the church sharing God’s love with others.   In the church and the world, together, we are the living and vibrant – beautiful and majestic body of Christ. 

Now retired and on disability, I find myself with a lot of time for reading and writing.  That’s one of the reasons I created a blog.   Much of what I share in this blog is for my own personal use.  There are things I read and write that I want to save.  I also find some value in sharing some of what I write or find in the writings of others.  Honestly, my memory isn’t what it used to be!  I also write a blog as a way of keeping/filing materials I may wish to review at a later date.



I continue to thank the NEXT CHURCH for articles that engage in thoughtful reflection on the future of the church.  For me, there was a lot to think about in this particular article, “Why Church Boards Need to Die” by Bill Habicht posted on June 10, 2014.  It is a major challenge securing and empowering church members willing to think “outside the box” in doing the transformational/entrepreneurial work of the church.  I would think this would be a major challenge in small congregations  where members have to wear a variety of leadership hats. 








This article by Thom Schutz resonated with me.  As pastors, how do we becomed agents of change?  

I was a long-term pastor of an urban church for over 28 years.  Through the years we worked through numerous changes in positive, creative and forward thinking ways.  Through the years we evolved from being a corporate-type church with a membership over 400 into a program-type church in the mid-90’s.  By the time I departed this ministry, because of health issues, this church of under 100 members was clearly a pastoral-type church still holding on to remnants of what the church used to be as a larger church. 

This small urban congregation with limited resources in a large and expensive building was going to have to face some serious questions about the future.  I reached the point of not being able to right person to lead the church through the transformational questions that would have to be asked about the future.

I wonder:  when faced with the reality that the church might die, did I become paralyzed?  I know one thing for sure:  I no longer had the health or energy to lead the congregation in asking the difficult questions that would have to be asked about the future.  I honestly fear I was killing myself!  I resigned the end of 2013 for health reasons.

Back to the article on change:  Consider #6:

Keep mission in mind. Evaluate possible changes on the basis of your true mission, rather than on lesser priorities. For example, are you more interested in reaching your community, or in satisfying members’ desires for nostalgia?

While, through the years I was honest with the congregation in talking through the implications of change, I was also paralized not wanting to let go of all in the church had been able to accomplish while on my watch.  I never lost hope that this coongregation could continue to figure out ways to serve the people in the communtiy for many years to come.  I just know I reached the point of not being the pastor to help them address important questions about the future.      

I wonder if there are pastoral collagues experiencing the same thing?


Some editing was required!

Bound and Nurtured in God's Love

I love the recent “back to school” commercial with the young boy, I will call him Tommy.  In this video he is taking inventory of all his school supplies placing them neatly in front of him on a table.  He is glowing while looking at new pencils and ruler and notebooks.  I can identify with him.  I still like visiting office supply stores looking at all the pens and notebooks and binders.  To this day I have a large collection of pens mostly because I enjoy trying out the newest ones on the market.  A touch of OCD hasn’t hurt me too much these past sixty-two years!

The little boy in the commercial notices the red marker is missing from the box of markers.  I know exactly how he feels.  I would be upset to know that a new box of markers was missing one!  In this commercial he finds…

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I love the recent “back to school” commercial with the young boy, I will call him Tommy.  In this video he is taking inventory of all his school supplies placing them neatly in front of him on a table.  He is glowing while looking at new pencils and ruler and notebooks.  I can identify with him.  I still like visiting office supply stores looking at all the pens and notebooks and binders.  To this day I have a large collection of pens mostly because I enjoy trying out the newest ones on the market.  A touch of OCD hasn’t hurt me too much these past sixty-two years!

The little boy in the commercial notices the red marker is missing from the box of markers.  I know exactly how he feels.  I would be upset to know that a new box of markers was missing one!  In this commercial he finds his little brother on the floor behind him coloring with that red marker.

Ask my sister about my possessive, selfish clinging to “things” I would never consider sharing.  Even my own daughter and wife know better than to mess with the stuff on my desk!   I am hopefully not as possessive as I once used to be.

My point?   I am not sure I have one!

I do, however, on a slightly different track see a parellel in holding too tight to things–even as a pastor!   It’s hard to break away from views I have come to value over the years.  It’s hard to accept doing things in new ways.  Creeds and liturgies and hymns I have valued singing and using for years can never be taken away.  That’s okay.  At the same time, am I willing to ahear some new tunes?

Going through the new Presbyterian hymnal (Glory to God) has been a joy-filled adventure like shopping for new school supplies.  It’s exciting to come across new verses attached to timeless and sacred tunes to help the church move forward.  I can hardly contain myself waiting to hear them in worship.

A touch of adhering to some of the old while partaking of fresh and new ways of doing things? Consider “The Church of Christ Cannot be Bound”, hymn #766 with text written in 2005 by Adam Tice to the ever-familiar tune, McKee (CM) tune.

Vs. 1   The church of Christ cannot be bound by walls of wood or stone.  Where charity and love are found, there can the church be known.


And this verse that speaks to my trying to be possessive instead of progressive:

Vs 4   If what we have we freely share to meet our neighbors need,

then we extend the Spirit’s care through every selfless deed.

Bound and nurtured in love!   Now and Forever!



I cannot ignore NEXT Church articles/resources when they appear in my email or on Facebook.  The latest email, NEXT U: Mission Shift in Christian Education, through the eyes of Jen James asks critical questions not only for Church educators but congregation mission teams.

These are excellent questions recognizing “that the local church is only as healthy as the community surrounding it.” 

1. Where are the places of health in your community? Do you see this health reflected in your congregation? If so, how?

2. Where are the places of brokenness in your community? Are those places of brokenness present in the congregation too?

3. What breaks God’s heart in your community?


Link to article: