I have completed this report for the February 25 conference meeting and have asked Debbie Kennedy to put some copies on the table in the back of the church February 25 for those who may want to read the report. This year I had a lot to report.
For generations across the South, baptism has been said to produce spiritual freedom but little else. In fact, across the South, all religion has been taught as giving spiritual freedom and meeting spiritual needs but little else. Social justice has never been a selling point for baptism in the South.
I read recently the legacy of racism still clings to the South and southern religion. Christian theology was changed so slaves brought into the church would not think slavery was sinful and baptized slaves were actually to enjoy real freedom. To maintain slavery, all religion became spiritual in the South.
The church changed its teachings to maintain slavery. Chattel slavery has ended, but the church continues to promote a false theology of baptism.
I have read calling the drug marijuana has racial connotations and the better word to use is cannabis.
Are you hearing the same?
I was asked this question this week and did not know what I was being asked. Apparently, some former church members, especially liberals, are rediscovering religion following the 2016 election and are going back to church to oppose a number of Trump's policies.
First Unitarian Universalist of San Antonio has had a significant influx of members recently because of the election. I fear if anything happens, Lutherans may actually lose members because of the election.
Do you know of anyone whose church participation has been affected by the election?
Today I had Debbie Kennedy forward to the congregation a letter from our presiding bishop regarding immigration reform. I hope you read the emails I forward to you.
Bishop Eaton begins her letter by writing, "Immigration is an ever-present topic at our dinner tables and in our congregations..."
My experience is different. Among the people with whom I spend time, immigration is not discussed unless I bring up the issue. The ever-present topics in my life are the weather, Lynn's health, the grandkids, my mother, athletics, concerns in the congregation, and the like. Social and political issues are not commonly brought up in my presence.
Which topics are ever-present in your life?
I was one of 25 local religious leaders invited to discuss how our faith community leadership could work for the common good in San Antonio. This was the most diverse meeting of religious leaders I have attended in some time and included the Catholic archbishop, representatives of some of the megachurches, and leaders of many other religions in our city. Rev. Ann Helmke was the other ELCA cleric in attendance.
Homelessness, affordable housing, and gentrification were chosen as the first issues to address. Other issues considered and to be addressed later included criminal justice and human trafficking.
In the current political climate in America, religious leaders of all types are being asked to do more to provide public leadership to their communities.
COPS/Metro is sponsoring a get-to-know-you forum with the Republican primary candidates to replace Joe Straus in our fireside room Sunday, February 18, at 2:30 pm, following our congregational meeting. All Republican candidates for this seat have been invited to attend.
I will be meeting with COPS/Metro lead organizer Walker Moore this week to work out details. I expect the candidates to be asked where they stand on issues family meetings have identified as crucial for COPS/Metro organizations. Immigration, job training, affordable housing, and poverty are common issues among COPS/Metro organizations.
Members and friends of MacArthur Park are encouraged to attend.
Thanks to Beth Borstad for coming to San Fernando Cathedral for the annual MLK service January 14. My role in the service was to announce the offering for a scholarship fund and to encourage sacrificial giving. It was the first time I have ever received applause for announcing an offering.
Cary Clack sat next to me and we were able to renew our acquaintance. I was also able to relay greetings between him and Jim Price. The two of them worked together at the San Antonio Light.
Bishop Ray Tiemann leaves office August 31 and this week he had his farewell meeting with the rostered leaders of the Alamo Conference. A new bishop will be elected May 6 in San Marcos and installed by presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton September 1 at Jackson Auditorium at TLU in Seguin.
The Alamo Conference will have a nominating meeting for Bishop Sunday, February 25, at 2:30 pm at Hope Lutheran Church on Callahan. The conference hopes for a large turnout.
Thanks to Brenda Krueger, George and Jeanette Pierce, and Jean Schriever who joined me at Abiding Presence last night for a working retreat of the San Antonio Sponsoring Committee. The group continues to grow and an effort will be made to double membership over the next eight months or so.
At the roll call of congregations at the start of the meeting, a tradition at these events, MacArthur Park was announced first since we were the first congregation to make a pledge to the organization. The group now has 14 sponsoring organizations.
Today a classified memo was released by Congress over the objection of the FBI and Department of Justice, even though all are led by people from the same political party.
I am concerned others will now think it is okay to release other information which is not supposed to be shared. If the federal government can do it, why not others?
In my work, people often tell me information which is not to be shared and news reporters and others will sometimes share information off the record. I fear we will now experience even more loss of trust in our country. Some boundaries need to be maintained for the common good.
Pastor Heather and I will be preaching on the petitions of the Prayer of the Church prayed every Sunday after the sermon. We will spend one Sunday on each of the petitions of this prayer which will vary from Sunday to Sunday.
As the sermons are developed, I will include summaries of my sermons on this website where I have summaries of other upcoming sermons.
In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit several people living in apartments in our neighborhood. I continue to realize 78217 has two different worlds: the subdivisions and the apartment homes. I am also aware the two groups seldom interact with each other.
As our congregation continues to reach out in this neighborhood, we may want to have different strategies for single-family homes and apartments.
Do you spend time in both communities?
I make the sign of the cross during the Communion liturgy whenever I invoke the Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, including when the names for the godhead vary.
When I worshiped with the Benedictines during my sabbatical in 2016, we all bowed during the liturgy or hymns whenever the Trinity was mentioned.
In ELW, making the sign of the cross is apprpriate whenever a cross appears in the written text of the liturgy.
This week I conducted what I think is my first evening memorial or funeral service. The family had the service in the evening partly to allow people who work during the day to attend without having to miss any work.
I expect to see more evening funerals in the future.
Several religious groups are working on environmental concerns. But according to research I read recently, religious faith does not play a major role in an individual's environmental concerns. People are driven more by their political beliefs than by their religious beliefs.
This survey confirms what I have read about other issues. As a whole, people who attend church regularly are influenced more by political groups than by their religious groups.
I decided not to circulate via email the letter Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote after the president's alleged racist comments about Africans, Haitians, and others. I did make copies available to my Wednesday evening class.
The ELCA and its partners have criticized the actions of our president on several occasions and I am not convinced of the value of always spreading "bad news." I am still waiting for the president to propose something our church can endorse with enthusiasm and will let you know when that happens.
Now that I have a smart phone and the church is paying some of my smart phone bill, I am using it more and doing some things from home I used to do on my church office computer.
It also makes little sense (or cents) to turn on the heat or air conditioning in the education building for one person when I can walk home to a building which is already heated or cooled.
Consequently, I think I am spending fewer hours on the church property than I did a decade or so ago.
Since Debbie's injury is being handled through Worker's Compensation and she is not a church member, I and others have been discouraged from asking her a lot of questions about her healing process and employment plans. We do know she is progressing well and hopes to return to work in some capacity sooner rather than later.
Another church related group has changed its name while keeping its acronym. WR will still be WR. This group is strong in the Midwest and funds a variety of activities for Lutherans and others.