Monday, January 21, 2013

Addressing America's Gun Violence

When we learned of the mass murder of 20 first grade children and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, our collective heart stopped, then ached! Let it not grow numb!  The litany of tragedies incurred by gun violence grows too long!!!  All too quickly we move on and do nothing.   But, when first graders are riddled with bullets, something deep within us says, "Something must be done.  This must not happen!" The reality is that since this heart wrenching tragedy occurred in December, hundreds have died by gun violence across the land.  The nation's leaders seem poised to address this comprehensively for the first time.  Polls show huge support.  Then we hear "No way!  It'll never happen."  The voice of faith needs to be heard. The church must speak!  This is an important faith and moral issue of our time.  The PC(USA) has spoken and provided resources for us at  May the Holy Spirit grant you courage as you speak truth to power.  Those leaders stepping up to the plate for change need our support. 

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."  (Matthew 5:9)


Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Initiative for a New Year

Happy New Year!  I hope and trust you had a blessed Christmas with your congregation and time of rest and fellowship with loved ones.

Your Presbytery staff enters this new year with a bold initiative.  We are in a full court press to introduce and train those serving on Presbytery committees, agencies and ministry teams to use google drive for communicating and managing the documents of their work:  agendas, minutes, reports, and policies.  Each working group will have their own google account which will organize and store their documents.  We are very aware of the learning curve required for this.  So why are we doing this?  The payoff is worth the effort to learn this new technology.  We will all save time and improve our communication efficiency.  Plus, what works for Presbytery work, will also work for congregation work.

A work group's documents will be located in one place organized in files.  What we once organized in three ring binder handbooks, we are moving into Google Drive files and folders to organize our work.  The group's documents will be posted and automatically available to all registered members of the work group. This will personally save me a lot of time managing documents.  With Google Drive freely installed on my computer, I will no longer have to sort old emails for attached files for a particular committee I staff.    No more watching for emails and saving attached files of agendas, minutes and reports, or searching for old emails if I didn't happen to save them when they first came.  No more need to delete saved drafts of unapproved minutes or policies and replace with the amended approved.  Google Drive takes the pain (for persons like myself) out of document management. The time saved for me will be multiplied by the time it saves every member of every work group.  Everyone will have the up to date document in time on their google drive.  That's the pay off!   Did I mention there is no cost for installing Google Drive on your computer.  Our work will be more efficient also with an editing feature, which may be shared so that minutes and policies during the drafting stage may be edited by the one with the correction or amendment, in time.  This small step will mean a huge step forward in the stewardship of our time, energy and resources.

I continue to shake my head when it comes to the advances in communication technology, which have changed our lives!  As a boy, my family shared a three party telephone line.  We answered on three ring calls.  My college, seminary and D. Min. work were all done on a typewriter!  Church bulletins in my first call were printed on a mimeograph machine with stencils, which required a minimum of mistakes, and messy tubes of ink!  Good riddance!  Hello, Apple 2c and copier!  When I arrived at my last call in 1996, the church office had black rotary dial phones, on which they were paying a monthly rent to the phone company!  Good-bye to that!  Most of us are not "natives," but "immigrants" of new technology, and many of us are not early adapters, but we do slowly learn and use these tools to move ministry forward.  It's time to take this next small step, which will render large dividends.    

Happy New Year!