Posts Tagged ‘Church’

white flag

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! To the congregation of the Old Stone Church (First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland), I extend my deepest appreciation! After almost 30 years in the pulpit, I’m eagerly longing for my very first genuine sabbatical.

I’m not ashamed to admit that throughout the last three decades, even though I’ve had countless joys and incredibly rewarding experiences in ministry, I have experienced seasons of frustration, disappointment, and plain old burnout, as well. I should have waved the white flag of surrender and asked for a proper sabbatical years ago.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of the General Assembly says that:

Clergy . . . bear the burdens, the anguish, the pain, and hurt of their parishioners 24-7. That is 24 hours, seven days a week. As a result, many, if not all, experience to one degree or another symptoms of emotional collapse, stress related illnesses, and “burnout” adversely affecting the minister’s personal, family, and parish life, and greatly diminishing his or her effectiveness and well-being. For too long, this situation has been accepted, even tolerated as an inevitable part of the job.[1]

Whew! Don’t I know it. Currently, I am the Senior Pastor of the remarkable urban/metropolitan congregation, the Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland. It is an exceptional experience to pastor such a busy, historic church with a unique and unwavering commitment to the city. The demands, however, of a church such as Old Stone can be oppressively relentless. There are desert times when I can go months without a solid day off, and I find myself trying to rehydrate my body, mind, and most importantly, my spirit with small sips of time in an afternoon here or a morning there.

There’s an old story about a missionary who is driving between two villages in his old jeep. He spots a villager sitting by the road and offers him a ride. The villager graciously declines. When the missionary persists, saying that it would be no trouble to give him a lift to the next town, the villager responds by saying: “My good sir, I’ve traveled a long way today. Now I must rest so that my spirit may catch-up with my body.

After three decades of ministry, it’s time now for my spirit to catch-up to my body. Over the next number of weeks, in preparation for my sabbatical, I’m going to post more about what a sabbatical is, what I’m learning about myself, what I’ll actually be doing (and not doing!) while on sabbatical, and how I’m preparing for my spirit and my body to get reacquainted with one another.

Please feel free to follow along, or offer a kind word or helpful comment along the way. Please do share these sabbatical updates with a friend whose spirit and body may benefit from what you read here – particularly other clergy and/or the congregations they so faithfully serve.

Thanks for reading, and any prayers you wish to lift on my behalf are most dearly appreciated. Thanks!

Love,
Mark

[1] From the Office of the General Assembly, PC(USA). http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/ministers/rationale-sabbatical-leave/ Accessed 2018 01 10.

Children reveal values at Christmas

Children reveal true values at Christmas.

Want to know what is truly important to children? Ask them what their favorite part of Christmas was. After worship yesterday, I did just that. And, boy, was I in for a shocker! (more…)

As the great city of Cleveland, Ohio sorts through its emotions, good and bad, joy and confusion following the recovery of Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and her daughter, I find myself mostly hopeful, even in the face of continued horrific abuse of women in our nation (see The Power of 14, Faith ConneXions April 12, 2013). We’ve seen the redemptive powers of God at work in Cleveland this week, a miracle-town if ever there was one. But it’s that and more. This Mother’s Day, my faith-mothers have called out to me about the need for justice and healing for women in Cleveland and throughout the world. Their faith is inspirational and so today, Mother’s Day in Cleveland, I honor them:

1. The Sister’s in Charge of the Old Stone Church: Social activists, counter culture Christians. The Sisters in Charge were active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Cleveland. When Chinese immigrants were refused access to Cleveland’s booming economy, it was the Sisters in Charge who rented laundry equipment and leased space on their behalf; they gave sanctuary to two Chinese men who were falsely accused of murder until they could get fair trial which ultimately acquitted them. The Sisters in Charge, among other acts of social justice, also helped found the very first school for the Chinese community, using the Bible to teach them English.

(more…)