TOOLS IN ADDRESSING CONFLICT

This past few weeks I have learned or heard about some minor conflicts between neighbors in the community where I live.  It has become way too easy to voice grievances using Social Media Networks.  Others have been more formal in writing their complaints.  While not a desired result, personal feelings have been hurt.

While this has only happened with a small number of people in the community where I live, I have decided to take a few minutes to write on the topic of “Addressing Conflict”.   Some basic, common sense guidelines:

1.  Direct Communication!  Two-way dialogue with those whom we disagree is the first and most desired first step in resolving conflicts.  This is preferably done face-to-face.       

 2.  Be sensitive to the reality that there will differing opinions when it comes to issues and conflicts.  The more diverse the community, more likely opinions will exist.

 3.  As neighbors, we need to listen and hear what others are saying—especially those with whom we may disagree.   Use of hateful or demeaning rhetoric will never be helpful in resolving conflicts.  

 4.  As leaders in the community, we need to be open to the possibility of adapting or changing ones viewpoint or opinion.  We must also be open to apologizing when it is discovered we have been wrong.     

 5.  We need to be open to the idea of ‘agreeing to disagree’ in avoiding the escalation of a conflict.  

There is a wonderful document published by the Presbyterian Church Mission Agency titled, “Seeking to be Faithful Together”.  Persons who wish to explore the subject of managing disagreements may wish to look at this link.  This PDF document is free.

http://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/seeking-be-faithful-guidelines-presbyterians-times/

When it comes to living in harmony in a community—whether it be a neighborhood or church or some other type of business or organization, a typical goal is the uplifting of people and their relationships with others.  To this end, I hope this blog will help in underscoring the need to resolve conflicts in applying the “Golden Rule”:   “Do unto others as you would have them to unto you!” Luke 6: 31  NIV (New International Version)   “Face-to-face” conversation is the best tool we have in resolving conflict.

Thoughts After Dallas Shooting

I am spending time today reflecting on the death of five police officers in Dallas.  Two civilians also died in this shooting that took place the evening of July 7.  Words cannot describe the depth of my feelings.  Let these five devotional thoughts be a beginning:

1                    My prayers are with the five police officers who gave their lives in serving the Dallas community.  Lord, hear my prayers for these officers and their families and friends.   Lord, hear my prayers for all the officers who put their lives on the line each and every day protecting citizens—both black and white.  Hear our prayers!

2                    My prayers continue to be with the two young men who were shot in Louisiana and Minnesota:

Hear our prayers for Alton Sterling (37) shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.    Be a source of strength for his family and friends.

Hear our prayers for Philando Castile (32) shot near St. Paul, Minnesota.  Surround family and friends with your love.

3                    My prayers for the communities around this country struggling with a wide range of race-based issues dividing us as a nation.  I pray for those who fail to see this as an issue that belongs to all of us.  From the co-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Tawnya Denise Anderson, who had this to say on Facebook on July 8th.

“For those of you who ask “How long?” or “How many times must this happen?” I’ll tell you precisely when it… will stop. It will stop when people en masse are aware of the ways in which whiteness/white supremacy have shaped the way people of color are viewed, engaged, and treated in this world (even by other people of color). To come to this realization, however, white people will then have to be self-aware and convicted of the ways in which they have benefited from and promulgated the lie of whiteness. As necessary as this is for the well-being of society, it is also an uncomfortable undertaking and there is literally nothing forcing white people to do it. White people, then, will likely have to create the force.

 White people, you have heard it said that you must talk to other white people about racism, and you must. But don’t talk to them about their racism. Talk to them about YOUR racism. Talk to them about how you were socialized to view, talk to, and engage with people of color. Talk to them about the ways you’ve acted on that socialization. Talk to them about the lies you bought into. Talk about the struggles you continue to have in shedding the scales from your eyes. Don’t make it “their” problem. Understand it as your own problem, because it is. To not do this would put you in danger of being yet another well-intentioned racist, convinced of their own goodness and living a life wholly unexamined and unaccountable to anyone. We don’t need anymore of those. It’s confession time.”

Yes, Lord, I have to acknowledge that I too am complicit as a citizen of this world with these issues that divine us.  As a white male, I have not always had an open heart and mind to hear what others of various races and religions and cultures are saying about these deep-rooted conflicts that divide us.      Hear my prayers for my brothers and sisters struggling to understand what it will take to mend deep wounds in bringing about unity and peace.

4                    I look to what President Obama had to say this morning, once again, in responding to these tragic shootings.

“I spoke this morning with Mayor Rawlings of Dallas to convey the deepest condolences of the American people. I told him that the federal government will… provide whatever assistance Dallas may need as it deals with this tremendous tragedy.

 We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement. Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs, keeping people safe, during peaceful protests. These law enforcement officers were targeted and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded, some are in serious condition and we are praying for their recovery.

We are horrified over these events and we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas.

According to police there are multiple suspects. We will learn more about their twisted motivations, but let’s be clear there is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement.

Anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.

Yesterday I spoke about our need to be concerned as all Americans, about racial disparities in our criminal justice system. I also said yesterday our police have an extraordinarily difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion.

 Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us.

 We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead we are going to have to consider those realities as well. In the meantime our focus is on the victims and their families.

Police across America, it’s a tight knit family, feels this loss to their core, and we are grieving with them. As a nation let’s remember to express our profound gratitude to our men and women in blue, not just today, but everyday.”

 5                    Finally, love is that which binds us together and builds us up.  Hate is not the answer.  Love is the bond that will unite us in times of national strife.   “God is our refuge and strength—a very present help in times or trouble….”  (Ps. 46). 

 

In prayer…..

Life in Rio Vista: Lions and Coyotes

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As a ‘newbie’ in Rio Vista, California, I am now an official resident of the California Delta—located between Sacramento and San Francisco along the Sacramento River.  I am learning that residency requires large doses of sensitivity and tolerance toward those who live in this agricultural/ranching community.  It’s hard to imagine, but Trilogy, the 3000 resident golf course complex where we live, is like an Island in the middle of tens of thousand acres of some of some of the most fertile land in the country that provides billions of dollars to the economy of California.

In the Trilogy community, where Nancy and I have purchased a lovely home, there are heated conversations about the threat of fires, dust, farm-traffic, and noise that go hand-in-hand with living in Rio Vista.  For me, the biggest adjustment has been the heat.  In the month of June we’ve experienced many days in the mid-90’s reaching well in the 100’s.  We’ve had no rain…sun every day!  On the plus side, we also enjoy evenings with windows wide open with temps in the 50’s.    This is great sleeping weather.   The ‘Delta Breezes are a new reality for us – winds that seem to be blowing all the time.   In the negative column are all the threats of fire—a reality for all of us living in this delta community.

Of interest these past few days is the issue of guns and canons going off throughout the night as farmers combat the Coyotes coming down from the hills to feast on the sheep and cattle—I also understand horses are occasional victims of the Coyotes!  One farmer said he has lost as many as 15 sheep in one night!   The guns and canons are a common deterrent – and residents of the residential complex where we live have been complaining to the local authorities about the endless noise.  I have also heard that some of the canons  are set on timers to go off every few minutes as a deterrent.  Not sure if this is true, but I have also heard that Mountain Lions also come down out of the hills looking to feast on lamb or beef.  Lions have been spotted near highway 160.

What is required of me living in this new reality of the California Delta?  Two things come to mine:

First, sensitivity toward those who have lived and work the land around where we live for many, many years. There is a lot learn about the history and people of this beautiful delta land!

Second, tolerance is required of me an my neighbors when it comes to the inconveniences that go with living in this resort community in the Delta.

One question comes to mind that still has to be answered: Why did the developer of TRILOGY pick this particular place, Rio Visa, to plant a golf course and resort community?   All I know for sure:  I’m glad they did—this is a lovely place to live!

Needless to say there is a lot for me to learn as a neighbor and friend committed to living in this agriculturally rich Delta!

Last Day Reflections from Saginaw

Following hugs and a wonderful piece of cake, Nancy and I depart the Panda House in Saginaw, Michigan following a farewell meal with some close friends.   Thanks John and Cheryl and Debbie and Cortney for your friendship.  Tomorrow I leave for our new home in Rio Vista, California.   Some reflections.

Saginaw was our home for thirty years.  We lived 25 years in a beautiful home on Court Street in Saginaw.  We watched our daughter grow from pre-school attending KinderCare through her attending Kempton Elementary, South Middle School and Arthur Hill High.  Nancy got went to the University of Michigan to get her Master’s Degree in Library Science—followed by a wonderful career as an information specialist with the Saginaw Pubic Libraries and then Dow Chemical.  It was always hard to figure out her job description – she was always tackling new projects.  A key blessing was years of work in getting her Six Sigma Master’s Black Belt.  Emily took classes at both Delta College and Saginaw Valley University—then off to Michigan State University.  Her graduation from Michigan State was a highlight in our living in Michigan.  Emily’s move to California and building her own family is the primary reason for our move to California so that we can be close to her family.  We’re both excited to be close to Kenneth Thomas, our three-year-old grandson.  We can now watch him grow as we watched Emily grow.

Church – some would say I was married to my work as pastor of the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church.   While I was in a position to help this urban church move through various transitions, a few highlights of my 28 year tenure were (1) helping the church re-commit to remaining an inner city church in a struggling neighborhood; (2) opening our doors to the East Side Soup Kitchen with the commitment to use our greatest asset, a huge (and expensive) building;  (3) careful management of endowment funds; (4) opening our doors to the Women of Color’s Inc and Cathedral District Youth Center when the Soup Kitchen moved to larger digs.   I loved preaching and leading worship.  I continue to believe that our weekly gathering for worship helped us nurture a bond with God that held us together as a “The living, vibrant Body of Christ / congregation”.

Also married to this congregation, I became close to church members.  In addition to weddings and baptisms, I provided pastoral services for families with over 200 church-member funerals.  Through the years, I also experienced numerous health issues.

I  lament seeing a church transition from over 400 members to less than 100 when I departed in 2013.  While I could have remained pastor for several more years, my going on disability was a good decision.   After spending numerous years helping the church remain stable in doing ministry, time came for new leadership to help this church discern it’s future and the possibility of closing.

One statement from the Presbyterian Church constitution resonates with me as I write about this experience as pastor of the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church:

“The church is called to undertake this mission even at the risk of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life, sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ.”  (G-3.0400, BOO, 2005)

Beyond family, I will also miss colleagues in ministry who offered support and encouragement through the years.  I will never forget the support from Associate Pastor Tony Patrick.  Presbytery Executives and Clerks also top the list of those who helped support me through the years:  Bob Lafollette, Hank Snedeker-Meir, Charlie Hurst (a former WAPC Pastor), Bill Davis, Louise Brokaw, Dan Saperstein, George Baird, and Ted McCullough top this list.    A special shout-out to Jim Neumann as Saginaw pastors who offered encouragement and support.

New experiences are now before Nancy and me.   I have to get used living on Social Security and Pension income.  We are blessed with a beautiful home—no worries.  I wonder what kind of church home we will find in our new home in Rio Vista, California.

All I know for use, God will continue to walk and support us through the presence of the Living Christ.

I end this blog, from my desk in Saginaw, with these words from Richard Rohr:

 “I affirm God’s presence in my life.  The challenge is in living with the awareness f God’s presence every day and with every breath I take.”

Saginaw friends and colleagues:  God bless.  My next blog will be coming from Rio Vista, California.

 

The Magical World of Retirement

Jack Stotts, former President of Austin Theological Seminary, said upon his retirement:

“My initial conclusion about retirement is that it is a magical world.  Now each month checks appear magically in our bank account, courtesy of wire transfers.  The economic threat has been tamed, at least for now.  In this magical time of retirement, the burden of “dressing up” for work every day is whisked away.  I can select my own uniform.  Now I can ask, “What do I want to do?” rather than, “What do I have to do for the seminary today?  The boundaries of my little world, small though it was, have collapsed.  The terrain has shifted.  I am free to erect different boundaries, to rearrange the landscape of my life.  And that is just the problem.  For in retirement I not only can but must reorder my life.  In that sense the magical world of retirement is also threatening.”

The question I continue to ask myself is how to reorder my life now that my wife and I have made the decision to move almost 3000 miles to California.   Within a new Presbytery in a location where there are few Presbyterian churches (Redwoods Presbytery), how will I live out my “Call” as a Teaching Elder / Minister of Word and Sacrament?

Three things I affirm with conviction in approaching this challenge of reordering my life as a pastor:

I will never stop serving God.

Jesus never retires.

The church, the living and vibrant body of Christ, doesn’t retire!

Returning to Jack Stotts for some insights in living in this world of retirement, this is an insightful article on retirement found at this link:

http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-2/Religion-Online.org%20Books/Stotts%2c%20Jack%20L-Aging%20Well-%20Theological%20Reflections%20on%20the%20Ca.pdf

Jack Stotts says,

 “Retirement is not a condition of our self-hood; it is a context for our selfhood.  We must adapt, even as we have adapted to new contexts when we have moved from one physical location to another.  The late Dr. Joseph Haroutunian, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary and later at the University of Chicago, dropped this pearl in class one day:  ‘Our bodies precede our spirits and our spirits must catch up with our bodies,’  referring to those who move geographically from one place to another.  We find ourselves having to grow into a new culture as well as into a new house. Those of us who have moved many times can agree that it takes our emotions and our spirits longer to feel at home than it does n our bodies.”

Traveling over 3000 miles to a new home in California near where our daughter lives, my first task “called to ministry” will be to move and adjust to living in a new context and culture closer to members of our family.  I have also done some initial networking by emailing Presbytery officers where I will be living to establish some new contacts/relationships.  Nancy and I will be look for a new church home.  As this journey continues, I hope to keep up with pulling together some of my thoughts for this blog.  These are first steps, ‘baby steps’ as I travel into this magical world of retirement.

 

Saturday Morning Office Hours?

I woke up this Saturday morning grateful to God for “retirement”.  In these moments in casually planning my day, I contemplated a history of Saturday’s past when active in ministry.

As a teenager in the 60’s, I recall going to my church home in Aurora, Colorado, on Saturday mornings–mostly for a required confirmation class.  I also had voice lessons with the choir director.  Church was a place go hang out on Saturday mornings!

When asked to be a worship leader, we always had practice sessions with the pastor on Saturday mornings.  As a teenager, I recall, the church was always open on Saturday mornings.  The casually dressed pastors, two of them, were always around.  There was activity and laughter up and down the halls–almost like Sunday mornings except less formal!

On a serious note, when I was off at college, I learned that my dad would often drop by the church office on Saturday mornings.   For some reason, the pastor shared this with me following his funeral in 1973.  This was something my pastor felt I should know.  What were they talking about?

Dad was a quiet man who didn’t talk much about church.  Yet here was drinking coffee with the pastor on Saturday mornings.  I wonder if he would have had a place to go to talk about things, anything, if these pastor’s were not present in the church on Saturday mornings.  I wonder?

I wonder if I would have been called to be a minister without access to the church on Saturdays?

Many years later, after ordination my ordination in 1977, I accepted my first call to serve in a large church in Davenport, Iowa.  There were three ministers and a full-time director of music on the staff.  I learned some important things in these first years of ministry.   It was always an expectation in that particular church that clergy be ‘on-the-job’ on Saturday mornings.  We always had a staff meeting to talk through the Sunday morning worship services.  Lots of details concerning Sunday worship were discussed.

As an Associate Pastor responsible for Christian Education programming, Saturday mornings were vested in working with youth and church school teachers.  I would do some last minute checks to make sure everything was ready for Sunday classes.  The organist was busy rehearsing on the organ.  The senior pastor was working on the sermon or perhaps, preparing for the next wedding or funeral.  As a large church, we had a large program with lots of details to be juggled at all age levels.   Worth mentioning, there were a host of church members cleaning and polishing in getting this sacred space, the church, ready for Sunday worship.

As years passed as a solo pastor in Evanston, Illinois and then Saginaw, Michigan, I found myself relaxing on Saturdays.  While I would often be at the church doing a variety of things, it was not publicized that the church was open.   In reflecting on this:  MY LOSS!

Because my wife worked a typical Monday through Friday job, we found Saturdays were sacred time to be with each other as a couple doing ‘family-type’ things.  As a pastor, there were always last minute calls that had to be made.  Weddings and funerals were always part of the mix in working and doing ministry on Saturdays.  Instead of holding regular office hours, I would meet with congregants by appointment—mostly in their homes.  In recent years of ministry, to be honest, Saturdays were considered a day when the church was closed.

I wonder about the experience of others?  How many of my clergy colleagues maintain office hours on Saturday mornings?  I wonder if I would have become a pastor had I not had some Saturday morning opportunities to mingle with the sacred.

I wonder?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts on Stewardship

Should a pastor know who pledges?

Have been reading some recent articles presenting the pros and cons of clergy knowing who and how much congregants pledge.  While I didn’t ask for official access to pledge information, I couldn’t help but know in general terms some of the pledging patterns of church members.  Having some access to pledging patterns can provide important information in managing operational budgets.

What I would ask for as a pastor is information on pledges with names redacted so I could review and analyze general pledge patterns spanning a number of years.  Some examples of what I was able to learn:

The highest or top pledge(s) were consistently on the short list of top ten pledges for a number of years.  I could tell from analyzing the list of top ten pledges that these contributions made up almost 60% of the budget.  I could only assume these were probably the most active of members. At the same time, one of these persons I know was a homebound member close to 95 years old who told me what he was giving.  In fact, a number of members chose to visit with me about their pledge.

Another examples:  without knowing what this member was giving, she came to me to share that her pledge would be lowered because of some personal struggles.  She offered to wash windows and clean flowers.  Other church members offered to do some painting to offset what they couldn’t put in the offering plate.  This actually caught on with several members helping with basic custodial and office management responsibilities.

In looking at the numbers with names redacted, I could learn from year to year to year how many pledges were increased and or decreased.  From this information I could glean patterns.  If there were a significant number of lowered pledges the question “why” becomes extremely important!  Increases sent a positive message that members were generally satisfied with how things were going.  It is always important to look at how giving patterns change from year to year.

Always frustrating was the fact that a significant number of pledges were for $25.00 or $52.00.  Some of these low pledges could be coming from children or youth or members on disability or fixed incomes.  Without judgment, I found it appropriate to preach on occasion on the value of tithing or proportional giving.

I also know of a few members who would pledge a certain amount – usually pretty generous.  In looking at the records (with name redacted) I learned that this pledge was rarely paid.  It is important for church leaders to know that some who pledge may never get around to paying what they hope to give.

It is always positive watching pledges grow from year to year i.e. a pledge year one for $520 grow to $624.00 year two to $780.00 year three = a pledge that grows from ten dollars a week to fifteen dollars a week.  This person or persons must be feeling pretty good!

More recently I found it helpful to look at and preach about our “capacities” to give or pledge based on our personal assessment of gifts and blessings  received.   There are many ways to preach positive messages on giving back to God in proportion what God has been so generous to give.

Another topic in this blog of random thoughts — the mechanics of giving.  I am seeing more and more churches relying on electronic, digital giving.  While this takes away from feeling like I am presenting a gift to God on Sunday morning, it is but one way to assure reliable, steady giving.

Finally, a worksheet that was developed to help our church management (finance) team analyze pledge information:

FORM:  2011 Stewardship Report — This report completed each week while pledges are received…

# of Pledges
Pledge Cards Returned
Pledge Cards Still Expected
Pledge Cards Returned Last Year
Pledge Cards Sent Out This Year
New Pledges
Increased Pledges
Decreased Pledges
Unchanged Pledges
Cards Returned With No Pledge
Lost Pledges Due to Death or Transfer
Dollar Amount of Pledges To Date
Estimated Dollar Amount of Pledges Still Expected
Total Anticipated Pledges      ($77,458 – $7,564)
Dollar Amount of New Pledges
Dollar Amount of Increases in Pledges
Dollar Amount of Decreases in Pledges
Dollar Amount of Lost Pledges

Just some random thoughts to blog about…..

 

Writing a Book

I have thought it would be fun to write about some of the extraordinary experiences all pastors encounter from time to time.  What were the most unusual weddings and funerals?   What were my biggest ‘slips of tongue’ in the pulpit?   What ridiculous things have I found myself doing?  For those who read this blog, what are some of your unusual experiences?

Just a few examples of some of my unusual experiences:

— As a young pastor, I once accidentally served the wine before the bread during communion.  Nobody in the congregation said anything because they thought I was trying to make some kind of point.  In admitting my mistake, we all had a good laugh.  I was also embarrassed beyond belief!

— At a rural cemetery, being handed a shovel to help in digging a hole for the interment of ashes.  I later learned this would not be an unusual request for those who regularly inter ashes.

— The time the pall-bearers dropped the casket….and my involvement in helping to ‘straighten out the body’ in the casket after family members departed.  Nothing funny about this.

— At a wedding, dealing with a drunk groom and groomsmen….

— A host of fun experiences in working with staff, custodians, organists and choirs  (The trust walk with a secretary at a conference)

— The funeral of a non-member when gang paraphernalia was placed in the casket to honor the deceased (a gang member)  – including a switch blade and a can of beer.

I would also like to write about some serious topics.

One example the list of things I learned early in my of ministry in how NOT TO DO MINISTRY!  I have seen and experienced colleagues who have done some pretty stupid things….

On the other hand, I have also been blessed with many wonderful mentors who helped mold me into what I would become as a pastor.  This would be a long list of mentors with hundreds of pages of great experiences

There is a lot to be said about my numerous health issues through the years.  I am a good example of how not to take care of myself….and I am not prepared to write on this subject.

After 28 years of serving the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church in Saginaw, I made the decision to write about this experience.  I have finally turned some of this experience into a book.  This book was written mostly for myself.  I also thought a few friends, family and colleagues might be interested in hearing what about these experiences.

The book available at Amazon.com:

Come and See What God has Done – Before, Then and Beyond

By Thomas Cundiff

I didn’t write this book to make money.

Now that this book has been published, I am contemplating:  What’s Next?

And back to the question I ask those who read this blog:  What are some of your unusual experiences?

Blessed by Pope Francis

“A better world for ALL humankind!”     This is the clear message I hear from Pope Francis visit to Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. Even as a non-Roman Catholic, a Presbyterian Pastor, I feel blessed to have this opportunity these past few days to hear what this great “unifier” boldly, has to say.   My personal challenge will be in integrating what I hear into my life. This challenge in mind, I have prepared this blog to share with others.

Packed with carefully crafted insights, I share through this blog links to the speech to the congress and the homily at St. Peter’s.

One short statement made by Pope Francis in concluding his speach to the to the congress:

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!”

 

Link to Speech to congress:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/24/politics/pope-francis-congress-speech/index.html

 

Link to Homily during Evening Vespers at St. Peter’s Cathedral:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/24/nyregion/pope-francis-homily-at-st-patricks-cathedral.html?_r=0

 

Better Today Than Yesterday!

Renewing efforts in doing some personal journaling, I found this quote from John Calvin:

No one can travel so far that he does not make some progress each day. So let us never give up. Then we shall move forward daily in the Lord’s way. And let us never despair because of our limited success. Even though it is so much less than we would like, our labour is not wasted when today is better than yesterday!

In what ways does this quote speak to you?

For me, I want to follow a path that leads to better health. I want to invest quality time with family and friends. I want to explore new and creative ways to live out my vows as an ordained minister.

There is plenty to do. My labor will not be wasted if I make sure today is better than yesterday!