Positive Feedback from July 10 Press Conference

Even three days after the press conference, I am receiving positive comments from acquaintances for my "moral courage" in seeking justice in this case.  I sense some hunger for religious leaders to speak out more in the current political climate.  This may be the time for the church to let its light shine.

Outdated Church Telephone Information

Today I called a church whose phone message did not give the extension number for an employee who has been there several weeks, still had the extension number for an employee who left several weeks ago, and promoted a congregational event in January and this is July.  Needless to say, I was not impressed and I doubt others who call that church are impressed either.

Current information on all forms of technology is essential for churches these days.  To say technology does not warrant attention says young people do not warrant attention.  They are the targeted audience.

If you see something from our church or school that needs updating, please let us know.

Fuller Seminary Relocating and Downsizing

Christian Century reports the nation's largest Protestant seminary is moving from Pasadena to Pomona in California and getting smaller facilities.  Their enrollment is also down in recent years as the number of people going into ordained ministry continues to decline.

Fuller has a satellite campus in Houston and some clergy in Texas do graduate study through Fuller.

San Antonio Sponsoring Committee Gets Grant

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has awarded the local sponsoring committee a grant of $60, 000 for the next fiscal year.  This grant should help the group hire its own organizer.

Catholics continue to provide much of the funding for local community organizing and others need to try to do more.

Luther Seminary Receives $21 Million Grant

The ELCA's largest seminary has received its largest gift ever to start a new two-year training program for future pastors.  The new five-year grant will reduce education costs significantly and get pastors ready to serve in less time.  The program will extend over all twelve months of the year to facilitate the process.

The ELCA faces a serious clergy shortage and the whole model of seminary training is changing rapidly at all seminaries.

Sixth ELCA Woman Bishop Elected

Six new bishops have been chosen across the ELCA this year and in every synod involved, a woman has been elected to take over for a man who is retiring.

I wonder if women will be as successful in the upcoming 2018 national elections.  What do you think?

Blogs Now Current

Since July 4 I have made nearly 100 entrees on this blog and I am now up to date for the first time in a couple years.  I hope to keep the blog current now so I continue to encourage readers to check in every few days for the latest entrees.

Debbie Kennedy will continue to make available three sheets of blogs every Sunday until she catches up with what I have written.  The blogs mentioned in the Thursday email will be those being distributed at the back of the church that Sunday.  Newer blogs will not be listed but you can reach them through the Thursday email by going to the link.

I continue to appreciate comments.

New Challenges for Scheduling Vacations

Just a few years ago, clergy could go on vacation if they made sure someone would conduct worship in their absence , visit the sick, and handle a possible funeral.  Times have changed.

I spoke at the press conference yesterday at the request of a Baptist denominational executive who needs to get away for a vacation and July is by far the best month.  The Chris Young case involves several Baptist families and he asked me because he thought I could handle the situation for Baptists and others.

I am aware how much attention church leaders are now having to spend on events and needs outside their congregations and denominations.  The world follows a different drummer.

Press Conference for Christopher Young

Several people reported seeing me on the evening news yesterday and my picture appeared in the San Antonio Express-News today after I participated in the press conference in Main Plaza yesterday.  The conference was called by a group opposing the death penalty to draw attention to San Antonian Chris Young who is scheduled to be executed July 18 for a murder he committed years ago.

I read a statement signed by 17 local clergy objecting to the dismissal of a potential juror because that juror belonged to a church which had a ministry to the poor, which this particular juror did not join.  The letter contended the free exercise of Christians was being denied by holding church membership against the potential juror..

I was able to meet families of both the killer and the killed,  The victim's family also does not want the death penalty in this case.

While the letter was written from a Baptist perspective, I said Lutherans are more interested in getting out of jury duty.  I said if the word gets out church membership can get one out of jury service,  I expect church attendance to increase.  At least a few caught my humor.

This case involves people in systemic generational poverty.  The death penalty looks differently depending on one's social class.


Interfaith Welcome Committee Advocacy Work Resuming

From 2014-2016, I worked on the advocacy committee of this group working with immigrants coming through San Antonio.  In 2016 the group disbanded the committee because no political advocacy was needed at the time.  Events have changed dramatically in the last few months and I have again been asked to work with the advocacy committee as the group now has a lot of work to do.

Ellie Weems Home Blessing

I went back to the Waterford July 10 and blessed the apartment of Ellie Weems.  She was away when I came a couple weeks ago and I wanted to include her home in the blessings.  She hopes to return to worship soon.

As i was leaving, I saw Dorothy Spencer at dinner and spent some time with her.

July 21: Pray. Fast. Act.

"On Saturday, July 21, we join with The Episcopal Church in our monthly commitment to #PrayFastAct.  This month, our focus is on protecting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security for the future.  Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are the core of our nation's medical and income safety net for the elderly, unemployed, underemployed and disabled.  In recent decades, investments in programs that spur the economic potential of individuals has declined, which has led to an increase in the number of people needing the support of these programs.  Together, these programs and other safety net measures represent a significant amount of annual federal spending.

"Recently, proposals have been made to change the programs by manipulating eligibility or coverage to reduce spending.  Difficult, but responsible, changes require Congress and the nation to invest in programs that reduce the long-term need for these programs and minimize the individual impact of the economic cycle so that these programs can cost less because they are needed less."

As I read this, the ELCA is calling upon us to reduce safety net programs by first reducing the poverty which requires these programs.  The goal should not be just to reduce spending on these and similar programs. 

Questions About the Coptic Church

People may be interested in knowing more about the congregation now renting our worship, educational, and fellowship space.  A good place to ask questions is at the weekly Pre-Game Show in the fireside room at 8:45 am.  We talk about worship for that Sunday but there is usually time to discuss other topics of interest to the group.  I encourage you to come.

The Meaning of a Smart Phone for the Poor

At House of Prayer Lutheran Church July 9,  we discussed how to help the poor.  One person asked if some people who claim they are poor  are really poor, especially when they can afford a smart phone.

I pointed out that what sounds like a luxury for one social class may actually be a necessity for another class.  A smart phone is a good example.

Some people who are really poor are homeless, which means they do not have easy access to a land phone line and may not have a permanent mailing address.  They may also have no one who can be relay communications to them. 

The only way these poor people can communicate to future employers is through their smart phone.  If they cannot communicate with future employers, they cannot be expected to find work.  If they cannot work, some say they should not be eligible for public assistance.  These poor people are really caught in a trap.  

For the truly poor, a smart phone may be a necessity, not the luxury middle and upper class people may think such a phone is.

New Bishop's Associate

Deacon Darcy Mittelstaedt is the new Bishop's Associate for Faith Formation, Communications and Administration, effective August 13.  Deacon Mittelstaedt is originally from South Korea and brings a variety of experience to the position.

Are Roman Catholics Encouraging Immigration from Central America?

I heard this issue raised at House of Prayer Lutheran Church July 9 and the concern was new to me. 

I know of no encouragement from the Catholic church for people to move here.  What I have observed is a group of dedicated nuns and laity working hard to make life easier for those who are coming across our border.  I have also been asked why Protestants are not doing more to help.

The Roman Catholic Church deserves praise, not criticism, for what they are doing.

No More Quick Fix Church Seminars

It has been several years since I have received publicity about an event which promised to increase church attendance, improve giving, and bring more vitality to the congregation.  Years ago these promotions came regularly and I know of several pastors who used their continuing education funds to attend.  Some of us at MacArthur Park attended one or two of these events with Pastor Ernie Hinojosa about 20 years ago.

We now live in a different world.  No one claims to have the secret formula to guarantee church growth anymore.  We are learning to live by grace and not by success, not always an easy process.

2903 Nacogdoches Rd.     San Antonio, TX 78217    phone: 210-824-7135  fax: 210-826-5146