Thursday, January 28, 2016

Whiteboard: The Fifth With First

This Sunday is The Fifth With First!

For folks coming to the Worship Service in the Sanctuary, I have a special treat for you: The Rev. David Shirey (friend of the congregation; founding pastor of Coolwater Christian Church, now serving as Senior Pastor at Central Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky) has recorded a special video homily that we’ll be sharing during worship. David’s words are inspiring and powerful, and the video is wonderfully produced by the good people at the Salt Project. After the Worship Service in the Sanctuary please head over to the Fellowship Hall for our Workship Project where we’ll be making Plarn (plastic yarn, made from old grocery bags) that will be lovingly knitted into bedrolls for local homeless men and women.

For folks going out into the community: We’ll meet at the Ramada at Chaparral Park at 9AM for a brief prayer service before heading out to work on behalf of our partner Operation Fix-It. We’ll be bringing a neighbors yard up to code and doing important work helping a local family in need. Please bring your work gloves, closed toed shoes, and you’ll probably want to dress is layers (it will be chilly at 9AM, but you’ll warm up over the course of the morning).

It is going to be great morning! I hope you will join us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

GMP Search Team Communication #1

Greetings friends,Important work is underway on behalf of our denomination.

Our General Minister and President, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins is completing her second and final six-year term as our denomination's "spiritual leader and Chief Executive Officer." As such a Search Committee was been duly elected by the General Board and they held their first meeting this past weekend. Below you will find the first of their communications with the wider church.

You will also notice that I have included in the names of each Search Committee member in the caption below their picture. I have done this so that you can pray regularly for each Search Committee Member by name. We are already doing that with our Wednesday Noon prayer group here at the church and I will continue to do that with my personal prayer discipline. Please pray for God's guidance upon this committee, for the Spirit of Discernment to be upon them and upon everyone that is touched by their work. I am grateful for this committee (and look, in the upper left hand side of the picture, it is Arizona's very own Rev. Lori Tapia!) and for the good things that will emerge from their faithful work.

Rev. Brian


2016-2017 GMP Search Committee: Top Row (L-R) Bill Jennison, Lori Tapia, Allison Enari, Mary Lou Kegler, Tom Perring, Young Lan Kim, Monique Crain Spells, Tony Rodriguez. Seated Row (L-R) Jennifer Garbin, Susan Morris, Jackie Bunch (Chair) and Danny Gulden.

General Minister and President Search Committee, Communication #1Committee named and search process underway

Progress: In this first communication, we are pleased to inform you that the General Minister and President (GMP) Search Committee of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been approved by the General Board. With a sense of humbleness and gratitude for being called to this important task, the committee met from Jan. 15-17 in Dallas, Texas to begin the search process. During this two-day meeting, we prayed with each other for God's guidance, participated in Pro-Reconciliation/ Anti-Racism training, spent time building covenant with each other, and focused our energies in active listening and engagement. We established a timeline that will take us from writing the position description through interviews and final recommendation of our denomination's spiritual leader and Chief Executive Officer.

Communication: It is important that we engage everyone in the church. Everyone - from the folks in the pews through the General Church. With this communication, we invite you to walk this journey with us. We have established a GMP Search Committee informational page which will serve as a way for you to communicate your thoughts and ideas with us. A questionnaire will be provided to solicit your input and we will be sending updates throughout our process. If you would like to take part in this questionnaire and receive updates, please sign up.

Request for prayer: Finally, in recognition of the central role God plays in our process, we have committed to be in prayer with each other on Wednesdays, sometime between the hours of 6 and10 am. Regardless of where we are physically located, this prayer time will spiritually bond us. We invite you to join us in this prayer life.
Search Committee webpage

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Three Things from Administrative Council

It was a busy weekend for Administrative Council. They had their Annual Leadership Retreat on Saturday and then met for their first official meeting of 2016. As always following those regularly scheduled meetings of the Council, here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:

1) We're in the Black
I am happy to report that we finished 2015 in a strong financial position. Not only were we able to complete all of our Dream Fund Projects, but we were also able to pay all of our bills and still roll over just short of $4000 into our longterm reserves at the end of the year! Your continued generosity and support makes these things happen!

2) A Full House
We are truly blessed to have ever single leadership position filled on Administrative Council. Each ministry team has co-chairs and everyone is excited for the good work that will come in 2016!

3) National Stewardship Conference
I reported to the Council that I have been selected by the Center for Faith and Giving as a "Stewardship Ambassador" on behalf of the wider church. That means that at the end of March (right after Easter) I will be attending a National Stewardship Conference in Orlando, Florida that will bring together some of the best minds and best practices for developing generosity in local congregations. This Conference will be a joint effort between the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and our cousin denomination the United Church Christ. Oh, and as a "Stewardship Ambassador" I have been awarded a full scholarship plus travel expenses to cover the event! I am looking forward to being there, learning lots, and bringing plenty of good things back to the church.

Whiteboard: To Proclaim

Our sermon scripture this week gives us...another sermon scripture!

In the Gospel of Luke this week we have Jesus standing up before the gathered congregation in order to read the holy words of scripture. He picks the words from Isaiah -- powerful words, transformative words, hopeful words. You'll find my abbreviated paraphrase up on the Whiteboard and you'll find the full text down below.

But Jesus doesn't stop by simply reading the words from Isaiah. No, he presses on. He proclaims, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

It is an amazing proclamation; an incredible thing to say. "You remember those holy promises from God? The ones you've been waiting on for so long? Well good news! Today is the day!"

And with that proclamation Jesus is laying out his mission and his ministry -- one that will be defined by liberation and light, by vision and transformation. Jesus is calling us this week to hear the old, old story and to believe that it still has the power to change us and set us free today!


Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

2016 Leadership Retreat

Administrative Council met for their Annual Leadership Retreat this past weekend. It was a tremendous event filled with purposeful prayer, faithful conversations, and an opportunity to continue to dream big dreams!

We celebrated the good things that happened last year, set goals (short term, long term, and on-going) to govern our work for the coming year, and felt the Spirit moving in us and through us in our holy time together!

Here are "The Three Things" we want you to know from that Leadership Retreat...followed by some pictures of the day!

1) Dream Big!
In 2015 we put the Dream Fund to wonderful use in the life of the church, and in 2016 we want to build on that momentum. We are going to "Live the Dream!" and "Keep Dreaming!" and "Dream Big!" in the coming year. The Administrative Council is looking forward to cultivating big ideas for our congregation as we faithfully discern God's dreams for us in the coming year.

2) A Full Slate!
What a blessing to have every leadership position in the life of the church filled! Please keep Administrative Council (and all of our various Ministry Teams) in your prayers as they take on the good work before us.

3) The Church of Yes...And!
In reviewing our Hope Partnership Best Practices we heard once again the longstanding refrain that we want FCC Scottsdale to be the "The Church of Yes!" We want to be a place that is filled with the overwhelming affirmation of God's love! We want to celebrate new ideas and support innovation. Instead of simply defaulting "No" for any new project or opportunity we want to be able to say "Yes!" In fact, we want to go a step further. Improv comedy troops talk about "Yes...and". It is the strategy of not only agreeing with what your partner offers, but building on it to make it better. We not only affirm new ideas, but we add our own piece to the growing tableau in order to make something even richer and more rewarding.