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...

America Afraid

Susan Brecht


by Rev. Susan Brecht I moved to Newton from Southern California a month after the Marathon Bombing, to a community still reeling in the aftermath of such a hateful act. I moved to a community with “Boston Strong” plastered on billboards and buses and T-shirts, saying to anyone who listened, “We will not allow this act of terrorism to define who we are.”  That slogan was quickly adopted by national newscasts declaring “America Strong.” Today I’m not so sure. For what seemed like an eternity we’...

Advent waiting and gun violence

Wendy Vander Hart


Grace and peace to you in this blessed season!   If I had written a pastoral note to the churches every time there has been a mass shooting with guns in the United States of America, you would've received a message from me 355 times this year!  The numbers are even more staggering for individual instances of gun violence.   When Jesus died a violent death on the cross and God resurrected him it was, in part, a message to all of humanity that violence is unacceptable.  Our Advent Hope is the ...

This Conversation ----- Again? Improving Church Communication

The Parish Paper


December 2015—Volume 23, Number 12 Copyright @ 2015 by Cynthia Woolever  This Conversation-----Again?  Improving Church Communication As congregations face change and new challenges, conflict is part of the process. Too often, under stress, church leaders and members fall into bad communication habits that prevent the airing of concerns and objections. Healthy conversations help people manage conflict and move them toward acceptance of new initiatives. Productive communication speeds up the ...

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