SB 4 Rally

I represented the Interfaith Welcome Coalition at the rally June 26 at the federal court house.  I missed all the public officials because of another commitment and by the time I arrived, most of the news media had left.  

I was struck by how young most of the people there were.  I saw few people over 40.  Immigration seems to create more passion among younger people.

Pastor Anna Gordy-Montgomery of Abiding Presence did a selfie of the two of us and put it on FB.

Johnson Amendment Conference Call

I just got off a national conference call regarding the efforts of some politicians to allow pastors to endorse political candidates from the pulpit, currently a no-no.  Most clergy do not want to see the rules change but some politicians are wanting to change the rules anyway.  I will keep you informed of future developments.

I wonder if I endorsed someone if my endorsement would help or hurt the candidate.  Would anyone really care who I would endorse?


North East Online Group

I have joined the online group for the neighborhood immediately to the west of the church, including where I live.  I will try not to repeat items here I read there.  I am already amazed what some people say online, including criticisms by name and accusations against neighborhood residents.

I have noted significant concern for pets and animals.  I hear little concern for people.  Is this typical of these groups?

Two Missed Opportunities

During the last month, the gay community celebrated Pride Month and the Muslim community celebrated Ramadan.  Previous American presidents have made proclamations for Pride Month and invited Muslims into the White House for Ramadan.  President Trump did neither.

The president's neglect of these two groups during their "high holy days" reminds me of some new pastors who, during their first months in a new parish, decide to neglect groups like the youth or the elderly because they are not comfortable with these groups, and then wonder why their pastoral leadership is not accepted well by the congregation.

Pastors need to minister to the entire congregation.  I hope President Trump will decide to be president of all of the people, including those who did not vote for him and are not part of his political base.  All need to feel welcome in the US.  All need to know he cares about them.

Reality Sunday

Last Sunday, the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Pastor Heather noted how divisive and controversial the readings for the day were.  The readings had a purpose.

When I was in seminary, I was taught the previous Sunday, the Second Sunday after Pentecost, was Vision Sunday.  On that Sunday, Jesus picks his disciples and sends them out with a hopeful message of the gospel.  All is positive and upbeat.

But as the disciples went out they faced the reality of a divided world, hence last Sunday was called Reality Sunday.  Families are divided by the gospel and the disciples need encouragement.

As we go through the Pentecost season, be watching for similar parallels among the Sunday readings.  The lectionary readings are selected for a purpose.  They are not random.

Book by Robert Jones

I have now completed The End of White Christian America and think the book would make an excellent discussion for those interested in American church history.  I have lived during the decline of the church in America and remember many of the events mentioned in the book. Jones brings the various events together into a compelling narrative and helps explain the rise of Donald Trump.

Would you be interested in studying this  history book?  Recently Lynn saw it being advertised in an ELCA publication.

My Hopes for Mayor Nirenberg

My most significant encounter with the new mayor concerned an invocation given to city council a couple years ago, an invocation  which was offensive to many.  Ron Nirenberg promised to look into the matter.

He also attended a racism event at House of Prayer Lutheran Church in his district and was helpful to the pastor at House of Prayer.

I hope he will be more religiously inclusive and not have prayer meetings for his "supporters."  I wish him well.

Temporarily Able-Bodied Disciples

In a paper on people with handicapping conditions in the church, this phrase was used to describe those who do not claim to have a handicapping condition.  The title expresses a reality - as we age, many of us will develop handicapping conditions, if we live long enough.

Would you call yourself a temporarily able-bodied disciple?

Getting Ready for the Special Session

Texas Impact and others are rapidly getting ready for the Special Session of the Legislature which begins July 18.  I missed the most intense days of the regular session because of a new grandchild and the same thing may happen to me during the upcoming special session.

If you are interested in following the special session, I encourage you to check out the Texas Impact website.  Churches are interested in a number of issues coming up.

Migration Caused by Climate Change?

I have been reading from international sources the major cause of migration these days is climate change as much as terrorism, war, or the other reasons usually mentioned.  I also read those countries most open to receiving migrants are often the same countries most concerned about climate change.

Has this been your experience?

The Purpose of Religion

Is the purpose of religion to help people avoid sin or is the purpose of religion to help people the cultivate a spiritual consciousness?  These paths are quite different yet both are common in the church. The first is associated more with religion and the latter more with spirituality.

Which comes closer to your reason for being in a church?

California Travel Ban to Texas

When Lynn and I graduated from seminary, we had the chance to go to either of our home states - Texas or California. Then Texas had the reputation of being more bigoted than California and it appears little has changed between the two states in the last 40 years.

The current competition with California during the LGBTQ days reminds me of similar attitudes toward New York during the Civil Rights Movement.  History tends to repeat itself. 

I hope to see the day when Texas makes just treatment of all people a state priority.  Voter ID, redistricting, and public school finance would be good places to start. 

Positive First City Council Meeting

This week's first council meeting was hopeful, especially in light of what is happening these days in Washington and Austin.  Pastor Ann Helmke and others have been working for years to have San Antonio declared a Compassionate City.  After several delays and watching other Texas cities beating us to the punch, our council has now officially adopted the proposal.

I was also happy to see the affirmation of the Paris Climate Accords, though Councilman Perry from District 10 voted against it.  I was at the meeting he referenced in making his vote and saw people quite a bit different from the people I see walking around this neighborhood.  I suspect the people living in the apartment projects in this area have less political power than the homeowners here.  Is that your hunch as well?

As our congregation works in this neighborhood, we might want to pay special attention to those who are not part of a homeowner's association.  

Deteriorating Situation in Mexico

I heard this week Mexico is almost as chaotic these days as Syria.  We have known for some time the Central American states of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are a mess, causing so many people to leave this Northern Triangle for the United States.

For decades United States foreign policy has focused on turmoil in the Middle East.  Do you think more attention should be given to the nations immediately to our south? 

Do People Give Less Because of Fear?

When I spoke with Pastor Kathy Haueisen about our proposed major fund appeal, she asked me if people are giving less to MacArthur Park because of fear over the direction of our country these days.  At first I did not give her question much thought.  But the next day I read an article in the Christian Century magazine which suggested people are giving less to churches following the 2016 election because of the confusion and chaos in the country.

If indeed the election is causing people to give less money to their churches, what do you think the churches should do?

Fewer ELCA Advocacy Emails Being Forwarded

When the GOP Senators released their Better Care Reconciliation Act this week, the ELCA and a host of other Christian groups immediately came out against it and encouraged their members to contact their Senators and encourage defeat of the bill.  The concern again, as with immigration, the federal budget, and the Paris Climate Accords, was for how this bill would adversely affect the poor.  I decided not to forward this email to the congregation.

Our denomination, based on our social statements, opposes a number of proposals coming out of Washington and Austin these days.  I am hoping those who are interested in these issues are signing up to receive their own notifications by email and are not always relying on me.

Many other Christian groups are also deeply troubled by what is coming out of Washington and Austin these days.  I cannot remember a time when the teachings of mainline Christians and the actions of our federal and state governments were so disconnected.

Though I plan to reduce the number of emails in opposition to all that is happening, I will keep my promise to notify the congregation if something is proposed the ELCA can strongly endorse.

Low Quality Employees

While the national debate about good paying jobs continues, whenever I talk with employers, I consistently hear a concern for the low quality of employees currently seeking jobs.  Several say they would like to pay a living wage, but they need to see equivalent productivity from the people they employ.

Are you hearing similar concerns from employers?  Should the national debate on jobs focus on workers or on employers? 

Inauguration Ceremony for the Mayor and City Council

I attended this event for 2017 - 2019 on June 21 at the Arneson River Theater.  I did not see anyone I knew and I think many of the people in attendance were campaign workers for Mayor Nirenberg.

I was enlightened to hear all eleven people on our council give two minute speeches, though I think some got a little long-winded like preachers also do.  Several made it obvious what their political leanings are.

This was the first public civic event where I wore my burlap stole to symbolize lamentation for the poor.

Masonic Open Installation of Officers

Today I attended the 2017 - 2018 Open Installation of officers of the Charles W. Anderson Masonic Lodge # 1413 to see Kevin Ott installed as the Worshipful Master (Though the title sounds like a priest, I think it is more like a president.).  Several couples attended from MacArthur Park to offer support to Kevin.

This was my first time inside a room where Masons conduct many of their rituals. I learned a lot and I thank Kevin for the invitation.

Lutherans have something in common with Masons.  Both groups are aging and deaths outnumber new people.  

While some Lutheran groups do not allow their members to be Masons, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America does not have a problem.  However, as a pastor (rostered leader), I am not allowed to be a Mason.

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