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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?