The Presbyterian Church is considering an amendment to the constitution that changes the definition of marriage so that persons of any sexual orientation can be married.  Already approved by the General Assembly, Presbyteries now must vote to ratify this proposed change (highlighted):

Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.

I am in favor of this amendment.

As a pastor, I recognize there will be those whose consciences differ when it comes to how they will vote on this amendment.  This is okay.  Different people may read and discern what scripture says in ways that differ from my reading of God’s Word.  For me there is nothing vague about the decision that needs to be made.  While traditionally marriage has been between a man and a woman, this amendment opens a door for the spirit of God to work with clergy and with churches who see women and men or those with diverse sexual orientations as ‘children of God’ who have the right to be joined in marriage.

An important point:  The decision is mine and mine alone to make as to whether I perform a marriage—any marriage.  The decision up to the session of a particular church whether to allow a marriage on their property—or not!  The only restriction would be if a vote on this amendment should fail.

Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God.


To see the entire section of the constitution impacted by this proposed change to the constitution go to this link:

May we pray for unity of our collective heart a presbyters when voting on this amendment.  May our decisions continue to lodged in our respect for one another and in giving glory to God.


Thoughts About the Bible

As I grow older it is becoming more and more difficult for me to ‘tolerate’ those who continue to believe God magically dictated the Bible – and in English! L  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find some who believe God is an “American”>

It makes me sad to hear of those who see the bible as one book instead of a complilation of many books written in different styles and from many different historical perspectives.

I recently read, I believe from Marcus Borg, that the Bible is a “human response to God….rather than seeing God as scriptures ultimate author. The Bible is the response of two ancient communities (Hebrew and early Christian) to their experience of God.” [1]

I decided to post this blog having read the short article by John Pavlovitz, pastor and blogger from Wake Forest, North Carolina, that talks of five things Pavlovitz wishes Christians would admit about the Bible.   A link to his 12/23/14 article:

  1. The Bible isn’t a magic book. It’s a lot of books.  It’s a library.
  2. The Bible isn’t as clear as we’d like it to be. There are a lot of gray areas.
  3. The Bible was inspired by God—not dictated by God.
  4. We pick and choose the Bible we believe, preach and defend. Or as Pavlovitz says:

“As we mature in our faith, some of us may be able to shake off some of our personal biases and get closer to the true meaning of Scripture. But until then, most of us have our own Bible, made somewhat in our image. There are as many specific individual interpretations of Scripture in history as there have been readers of it.”

  1. God is bigger than the Bible.

If all of this interests you pick up the article written by up by John Pavlovitz.   A good book to read:  “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time” by Marcus Borg.

[1]  I had this written in my personal journal, 2/2/15.  Sorry but I didn’t write down a source for this quote.


Driving on another cold winter day, I hit another pothole and say to myself:  “Time to get my car wheels realigned”.  Then I hit another pothole, CRINGE AND CONCLUDE:  “Why bother?  I’m just going to keep hitting potholes! The car is always going to be out of alignment!  I could just wait until spring for this realignment”.   I then think about the permanent damage that could be done to my wheels and car if I don’t do some preventative maintenance in addressing this alignment issue.

Then a God moment:  Not just with my car but also in life, preventative maintenance is always a good idea.

In my personal devotions, I am beginning another Lenten journey toward the cross of Jesus.  More important this journey leads to Easter and the empty tomb and ultimately Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  In my personal journey, I need to do some preventative spiritual maintenance.  There is plenty in my life to be re-aligned with God.    Just as it took time for Jesus to travel and through Jerusalem it’s going to take time to get my life realigned with God.

And another question: What would it be like to walk in Jesus’ shoes (or sandals) traveling through Jerusalem in preparing the next five weeks leading to Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter?

My challenge right now is in identifying the potholes that throw me off in living in balance with God.  What in my life needs to be realigned with God and friends?  Where do I go for this “realignment”?  The church?  Friends?  Christ?

These are just a few questions I ask as I drive through another pothole – as I begin this 2015 Lenten journey with friends and colleagues—and my Lord.

Mid Week: Filling up My Spiritual Tanks at Calvary Presbyterian, San Fransicso

I listened to a wonderful service of the Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco the other day.  I have been listening and virtually worshipping with this congregation for over a year.  I enjoy all that I hear and see this church doing in serving Christ in the San Francisco Bay area.

I follow these services, along with services from several other churches, because I have some history with former pastors of this church:  James G. Emerson who was a mentor for me when he was pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church in Denver (the church that gave me my first pulpit robe when ordained in 1977) and Dr. Laird Stuart, who was pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, the home church of my wife and the church where Nancy and I were married.  I was also honored to serve on a General Assembly Committee with Laird Stuart some years ago when I was a commissioner.

John Weems is now the pastor of Calvary.    To learn more about this church you can go to their web page:

On February 8th I listened to a moving service with Rev. Victor H. Floyd preaching the message, “What I Came Out To Do”,  sharing some of his person story/journey as a gay man and pastor.  There was also a marvelous vocal group leading worship, “Vocal Rush”. These are students from the Oakland School of the Arts recently competing on the television show “Sing Off”.   It was truly an inspiration to hear these young adults sing.  This is the link to this worship service and sermon:

For those who have not listened to services on-line, I encourage you to do so – especially when you are longing for a mid-week “fill-up” for your spiritual tanks.

Good Questions asked by Jeffrey D. Jones

Good and insightful questions are asked by Jeffrey D. Jones[1] in helping to guide congregations in discerning the future mission of the church.


  1. One question that has been asked consistently through the years, and even more so in these days of declining church membership is, “How do we bring them in?” It would be better for us to ask, “How do we send them out?”

  1. In these days of changing roles and responsibilities many wonder, “What should the pastor do?” But a more important question for congregations today is “What is our shared ministry?” 
  1. When congregations focus on strategic planning they ask, “What’s our vision and how do we implement it?” What would happen if they instead asked, “What’s God up to and how do we get on board?”

  2. When congregations have financial struggles, they ask, “How do we survive?” Instead they might ask, “How do we serve?”

  3. When congregations think about their mission, they often ask, “How do we save people?” or perhaps, “How do we help people?” A better question might be “How do we make the reign of God more present in this time and place?”

Congregations need to find new ways to think about what it means to be the vibrant, living Body of Christ.   I commend Pastor Jones article for your consideration found at

[1]  New Questions for a New Day posted by Jeffery Jones on January 30 by Alban at Duke Divinity School.

Marcus Borg and the Bible

I was brought up to think about sacred and ancient scripture as the “inspired” Word of God.  Marcus Borg (1942-2015) has said it as clearly as any scholar when he says:

I see the Bible as a human response to God,” Borg wrote. “Rather than seeing God as Scripture’s ultimate author, I see the Bible as the response of these two ancient communities (the Hebrews and the early Christians) to their experience of God.[1]

I appreciate the brief article offered by Bill Uhrich[2] paying tribute to this scholar who looked at sacred scripture as God’s inspired Word.  Recognizing there will be those who disagree with this assessment, I need to be honest in sharing that Borg makes a log of sense.

Marcus Borg will be missed.

[1]  “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally.”, 2001


Do I Miss Preaching?

I have been asked if I miss preaching?  My honest answer:  No.  I miss worship leadership.  I miss putting together worship experiences that give glory to God along with God’s Word proclaimed.  I don’t have to be the person “proclaiming” what I believe to be God’s sacred/inspired Word.

I miss knowing that liturgy and music have made a connection with congregants as I look out upon them in worship.  A pleasant surprise has been in sitting with my wonderful wife giving glory to God in worshipping together.   This is a first for us in my being a pastor for almost forty years.

I have now been out of the pulpit for over a year.   On disability, I have health issues that make it challenging to climb steps or walk long distances.  I am not currently accepting preaching assignments.  I am now enjoying worship from the perspective of those sitting in the pew.  I enjoy singing hymns – some that I never used before in my worship planning.  I delight in seeing the small army of children coming forward for a children’s message knowing that I am not responsible for planning it.

I enjoy hearing God’s Word proclaimed.  I also find myself going to the internet to listen to worship services and sermons from colleagues who broadcast their messages often preaching on similar lectionary texts.  It’s fascinating to hear how different preachers bring different twists and turns to God’s sacred Word.

Do I miss preaching?  No.  Well maybe — sometimes! 🙂

Will I return to the pulpit?   Honestly, I don’t know.  If physically able, I can see myself filling in if a colleague is facing an emergency and needs a worship leader.  I can always find a sermon within me.  Like riding a bicycle, I don’t think I’ve forgotten why I became a “Minister of Word and Sacrament” in the first place.  While I continue to feel called to be a preacher I am still struggling with how this “call” fits in with being on disability approaching retirement.

These are my thoughts on this snowy day.  It’s now time to prepare to join with my wife for morning worship at Second Presbyterian Church in Saginaw, MI.