Welcoming the Stranger

Vard Johnson


Vard Johnson is spending this week at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas as a volunteer lawyer for refugees from Central America. He shares his experience here. Today, I linked arms with 15 volunteers at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, to aid the hundreds of women and children fleeing violence in Central America.  During the past year at least 50,000 citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have entered the United States illegally, ...

As we begin Lent: The Interdependence of Spiritual Discipline and Prophetic Witness

Jim Antal


Each year, as Ash Wednesday approaches, the many years I spent in close contact with Henri Nouwen exert a pull, reminding me of how attuned Henri was to the liturgical seasons.  Not only that, but two of Henri’s books – Show Me the Way- Readings for Each Day of Lent and Walk with Jesus –Stations of the Cross – have guided me and the congregations I served through Lent for decades.  If you have not read them – or if you have not used them as a guide for either Lent or Holy Week – I would suggest ...

Auctioning a sermon for youth ministry

Kazimierz Bem


How do you raise additional money for youth ministry? Can you do it by asking money from non-church members? First Church in Marlborough has an active youth group and confirmation class but like many churches we were looking to raise some additional funds for them. Because I was a lawyer before becoming an ordained minister, I still have many friends in that field - most of whom are not devout church goers. Some are not even Christian at all. So, how could those two worlds possibly come ...

The Payday Lending Crisis: What Can Congregations Do?

The Parish Paper


February 2016—Volume 24, Number 2       Copyright @ 2016 by Dana Horrell Several years ago, the Rev. Dr. Freddy Hayes III, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas, noticed storefront payday lenders popping up like mushrooms, replacing banks. Getting organized, he and other clergy testified before the Texas legislature, saying: “If someone is drowning, instead of throwing them a life preserver . . . we have thrown them shackles. That is what the payday industry has done to too many ...

A Vigil for Undocumented Neighbors

John Allen


by John Allen Immigration and Refugee Task Team Nestled into the crook of the Mass. Ave Connector there is a squat, unassuming, concrete structure that thousands of people drive past every day without realizing that it is in fact a prison. The Suffolk County House of Correction, to be precise.   On the top floors of this prison, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds detainees who have not necessarily been convicted of any crime. Most have pending immigration hearings...

Sometimes Baptism Calls For A Dunk In the Ocean

Amy Lignitz Harken


Every now and then, I get a request to officiate a baptism in private. “Just the family,” parents insist. “Maybe on a Sunday afternoon.” I try to convince these good people that baptisms are church community happenings, conducted during a regular worship service.  Baptism is an incorporation into the Christian community, I say. That’s especially important to remember for babies or toddlers, who are too small to make their own confessions of faith. The whole congregation promises to help them ...

Do Not Stand Idly By - Gun Safety and the President's Speech

Dan Smith


by Rev. Dan Smith Vice President, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization We have some exciting news to share! Yesterday, as part of a White House press conference about reducing gun violence, President Obama announced initial steps to implement a key recommendation of our Greater Boston Interfaith Organization/Metro IAF (Industrial Area Foundation) Do Not Stand Idly By campaign. (Learn more about this campaign here). President Obama’s announcement clearly reflects the impact of our campaign ...

How Ministry Teams Get Things Done

The Parish Paper


How Ministry Teams Get Things Done January 2016—Volume 24, Number 1       Copyright @ 2016 by Cynthia Woolever The pastor charged with recruiting teachers for the congregation’s Sunday school classes expressed her frustration: “Every year it gets harder and I don’t see that changing! I’ve tried every strategy and reached out to new people over and over again. At least I know one thing—what I’m doing isn’t working.” But one thing this leader and many others have not yet tried is a ministry team ...

One Human Family

Polly Hamlen


Today, we stand at a critical juncture for our nation, as debates rages across the country about security and the plight of Syrian refugees.  Will we, as Americans, continue to welcome Syrian and Iraqi refugees into our country? Will we assist those suffering from torture and persecution, regardless of their religion, or country of origin? Or will we close our borders, and isolate ourselves in fear? The ancient Christian feast day of the Holy Innocents, or Childermas, celebrated this year on ...

A New Year's Challenge

Wendy Vander Hart


Of the Spiritual Journey and Call papers I read in my work with Committees on Ministry, more than 90% (an educated guess) give testimony to someone in that person's life asking the question: have you considered ministry?  You might think it needs to be the voice of God speaking directly to a person's heart, but more often than not God expresses a call through people.   In the eight years that I have served as Associate Conference Minister I have challenged people to be on the lookout for someone...

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