FTE Blog


Hanging out in New Orleans with a bunch of aspiring pastors. . .

From our 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA

As we left the airport and boarded the bus to go from the airport to Dillard University where the conference is being hosted, I was assaulted with the heat and humidity of the Southern summer. Riding through the traffic on the freeway, I looked out the window wondering if I would catch glimpses of the damage and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. We exited the freeway and were stopped at a red light and I saw a person on the side of the road “panhandling.” He had written some illegible words on a sign he was holding that I couldn’t read. But I caught a glimpse of the back of the sign which used to hang at an apartment complex and read “The American Dream, for rent now!” I was struck by the completely contradictory message, this guy was definitely not experiencing the American Dream standing on that corner in the oppressive heat and humidity.

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By: Gregory Allen-Pickett June 27, 2011


You have been invited, all are welcome . . .

This blog post was produced during our 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA

Day 1: Getting off of the airplane and touching ground in New Orleans, I let go of my worries, frustrations, anxieties of home life and welcomed in the spirit of God to fill me with the comfort of simply being present, listening and conversing with others on their journey of faith as spiritual social change agents in a world of complacency and despair. I am honored to be in the company of such greatness of minds and comforted in the knowing there is hope for the Christian church and hope does not disappoint…

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By: Candace Thompson June 20, 2011


Learning a New Normal

What I have experienced here at the FTE Leaders in Minstry Conference in New Orleans is so powerful that I feel compelled to try to put it into words. Why? I have experienced community, and it is good.

I don’t actually remember how I came across this fellowship. It may have been suggested to me by my pastor or possibly the seminary I will be attending. What I do know is that despite my research, I had no idea what to expect when I left for my trip to New Orleans. In my wildest imaginations, I would not have pictured what this conference has become for me.

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By: Jennifer Dahle June 18, 2011


Embodying the Practices

This blog post was produced during our 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA

It seems like talk of “practices” is popular again. People and groups both inside and outside the church are re-discovering that our faith is not just about beliefs or intellectual affirmation but about a way of life, a way of living, that connects us to one another and to God. These are not in and of themselves “salvific.” In other words, practices for practices sake, for getting our own spiritual fix, are not transformative, are not converting. But if we engage them with…

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By: Rev. Juan C. Huertas June 17, 2011


Beyond the Borders of Identity

On Saturday, June 4th, FTE doctoral and dissertation fellows attended the panel Scholarship in Dialogue with Diaspora: A Reflective Conversation. Drs. Diakite, Hucks, Braga, Hopkins, and Lartey reflected on experiences with African and African diasporic communities. Among others, the theme of identity played a critical role in the reflections. The thrust of these comments was that theological and religious discourse in both the church and academy must resist the tendency to define Christian identity in terms of a bipolar, exclusionary logic that consecrates a hierarchy in which the Christian is naturally superior to the heathen. As Christian pastors, preachers, and educators, we must begin to think about ways of conceiving our personal, congregational, and denominational identities in ways that admit the ambiguity of distinctive qualities between saved and sinner, church and world, “us” and “them.”

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By: Asante Todd June 09, 2011


Colonizer or Co-learner?

“Are you traveling to colonize or are you traveling to be a co-learner?”

This was the query posed by Dr. Margaret Aymer to FTE fellows at the closing panel discussion at the 2011 Leaders in the Academy Conference. After all, in the pursuit for excellence in scholarship in our fields of theological education, we are on a quest. This quest encompasses, as Dr. Emilie M. Townes proclaimed in celebration of the great legacy of Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker, great oeuvres along the way.

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By: Tamara E. Lewis June 07, 2011


Unbolting the Door: Musings of a Former Volunteer

What does freedom look like? I am a wind lover. As a child I loved running barefooted in the wind and climbing a certain tree with my best friend where we could feel the wind more intensely. We would compete to see who could climb the highest and then we would stay awhile longer, waiting for the wind to sway the branches back and forth. I don’t have quite as much freedom to do these things anymore but I continue to value the wind and as I have come to see her as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, I learn to feel her presence in other areas of life.

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By: Anna Ruth Hershberger May 24, 2011


It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

REM’s musical lyric: “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine” describes the way I feel today. Today, millions of people seriously doubt that the world will end tomorrow, as predicted by Harold Camping. Camping’s Family Radio’s website “proves” through some dizzying mathematics that Jesus will come to usher in the eschaton (the end of time).

Here are three reasons I gave why the world will (most likely) not end on May 21, 2011:

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By: Rev. Alan R. Rudnick May 20, 2011


Digital Mind and Divine Calling (Part 2 of 2)

The problem of distraction in the spiritual life has always been a challenge. The gospel account of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary has often been a reminder to Christians of the call to let go of the worry and distraction we see exemplified in Martha and to choose the “better part” of attention on God that we find in her younger sister Mary. In the early desert tradition of Christian spirituality, the ancient monastics spoke of the need for Sabbath, solitude, silence, stillness and unceasing prayer in an effort to create enough space amidst inner distraction and dissipation to hear God’s call to relationship. Lest we think this was an impossibly remote ideal for young persons, the later medieval ideal of the school and university was based on the experience of “schola” (Latin for “leisure”) in order for deeper order reflection and contemplation to take place.

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By: Michael Hryniuk May 11, 2011


Digital Mind and Divine Calling (Part 1 of 2)

One day, I stepped off the plane in Minneapolis airport to catch another flight and found myself sitting in a departure lounge waiting for the next boarding call. A gentleman near me suddenly started talking to someone I couldn’t see. He was holding a conversation with no one. I looked but he wasn’t even holding one of those new, nifty palm-sized mobile phones. Who was he talking to then? I looked around embarrassed and thought that the poor man must be delirious after a red-eye flight from San Francisco and just needed to lie down somewhere and collect himself. The conversation continued. I began to stare and finally noticed a strange blue light flashing on what appeared to be a hearing aid in his ear but the device had a long cord I’d never seen before. I had just been introduced to Bluetooth technology.

At that moment, I began to feel a strange shock and dread coming over me. There was something weird going on…

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By: Michael Hryniuk May 09, 2011


Bin Laden’s Death

I have been praying for Osama bin Laden for ten years. I was not surprised by news of his death. As I asked myself why, I suspect it is because, in my eyes, bin Laden died long ago. He died to goodness; he died to mercy; he died to shalom. He died to the things that God cares most about. He was alive until this week—but he died to life a long time ago.

I have wondered over the years what God tried to do to get him back. I wonder about the confounding ability of human beings to resist the love of God. I wonder about these things for Osama bin Laden and I wonder about same things with respect to my own life. Today, as I have many days before, I pray for my enemy—I pray him into the hands of the God of justice and of mercy.

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By: Rev. David Lewicki May 02, 2011


Making the Church More Accessible to Folks Under 35

The folks at FTE have asked me if I’ll write a follow-up to my 20 Steps to a Renewed Church (posted on April 8th). At first, I didn’t think I had anything more to say than I’d already said. Plus, the mere mention of Church Issues makes me want to fill my backpack with trail mix and furs and head into the Alaskan wilderness indefinitely. But then… what I got to ponder was how easy it is to spout off a Manifesto For How To Live, and how hard it is to actually live. So, here’s my follow-up to the original post.

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By: Tamie Harkins April 19, 2011


Bored to Tears: An Act of Contrition for Young Adult Believers

It wasn’t what my student said that so startled me, but rather the tone of his answer to my question about why “church” hadn’t come up in a discussion of where we “feel most spiritual.” As though he were supplying the obvious and uncomplicated result of a simple math equation or the name of an element from the periodic table, Scott, a student in my undergraduate Ignatian Spirituality course, answered matter-of-factly, “Church is boring, but spirituality isn’t.”

Of course, I’d heard versions of this before (indeed, if you Google “church is boring,” some 20+ million results appear, much of it, well, very, very boring…). But this time was different…

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By: elizabeth-drescher-ph.d Elizabeth April 15, 2011


20 Steps to a Renewed Church

Tonight I went to a meeting at the local Episcopal church; it was a dinner and get-together with the new Bishop of Alaska. Apparently, Alaska hasn’t had an Episcopal bishop for a while, so this is exciting news that there is now a bishop. The dear little Episcopal church here, which is called St. James the Fisherman (how cool is that name?!), is tiny and doesn’t have a priest and is run by well-intentioned older women. Which is the story of so many rural Episcopal churches.

I left thinking, “ah, the church.” Not “ah” like a sigh of relief, but more just a sigh. I feel like buried in the center of the church (and I mean the church as a whole—all the Christians worldwide) is this amazing, redemptive, beautiful thing.

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By: Tamie Harkins April 08, 2011


Stumbling Into the Digital Reformation

Our “Theo-Epicurean” social experiment began with a few simple acts. My brother Simon created a Facebook group page. We took a picture of the homemade chicken pot pie we had just made, used it for the masthead, and uploaded all our food related photos from our cell phones. Voila! The Episcopal Foodie Network was born. Within days over 500 foodies of faith had joined and were posting like mad.

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By: Courtney Cowart April 04, 2011


Come Saturday Morning

As an adult, I wonder how to live in a way that acknowledges the world outside my own backyard, working hard for my keep, and extending freedom to other children. While I continue to explore my vocation, I want to continue exploring the world like I did as a child. I question how I will play during my free time as an adult. And what a concept that is. Free time: time to be free, to jump off the diving board, to pick up a frog in the park to be your pet, to play dress up or not. What are my options and how will I imagine new ones?

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By: Alie Jones March 30, 2011


Finding God and Health In The Experience of Storytelling

A University of Massachusetts Medical School study recently found that storytelling may have positive effects on patients with high blood pressure. For at least one group of low-income African Americans followed in the study, listening to personal narratives helped maintain lower blood pressure as effectively as more medication. The study found that participants who watched videos of stories drawn from their own community and told in patients’ natural voices fared better than those who watched generic, how-to videos about stress reduction.

Does that surprise us? All the world’s religious traditions hold…

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By: Dori Baker March 22, 2011


Ashes to Ashes

My Lenten discipline is far from original. In fact, I stole the idea after hearing it from someone last November. BUT I will venture forth and commit for the next 40 days to… writing a letter to the people in my life for whom I am thankful for and have been meaning to keep in touch with, but for many, many lame excuses have let the pages of the daily Far Side calendar get torn and tossed in the trash before I’ve had a chance to say, “Hello, again.”

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By: Kathy Lee March 18, 2011


Turn, Turn, Turn

One of my favorite Biblical passages is the well known and oft quoted passage from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is aseason…” As a young girl growing up in the seventies I used to turn the volume on the radio to full blast whenever the Byrds musical rendition of this classic passage would come over the airwaves. Drivingalong the roads in rural Sheboygan County, I would roll down the window of my parent’s car and sing the lyrics with the passion of aperformer on stage. I sang I recall feeling empowered by the fact that life is not a series of disconnected, discrete events, but that there was order in the chaos. I did not have the language or the faith at the time to name that order as God; but I knew with certainty that I was part of a bigger story—a continuous story. And that knowledge gave me confidence and offered me comfort.

A lot of miles and many roads have been traveled since my carefree teenage years but the words from Ecclesiastes (whether in Scripture or song) still evoke within me the same feeling of confidence and comfort. I also know with certainty that the story I am a part of is God’s…

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By: Kim Hearn March 14, 2011


Here Comes a Happy Minister

Apparently like most clergy, I joyfully report that I love my job. Clergy, according to studies done by Matt Bloom at the University of Notre Dame, report being happier than the average American. Bloom divides happiness into two categories: the first being, what he calls hedonic and the second he labels eudaimonic. Hedonic happiness is easily attainable- simply grab a few friends, a good bottle of Cabernet and you are well on your way to hedonic heights. Eudaimonic, however, is a bit more complicated and requires the depth and breadth of joy found only in contentment that isn’t fleeting. According to Bloom, clergy can more easily report that we are happy in the deep sense, yet we often can’t say that we are happy in the laugh-your-butt-off-lovin’-life kind of sense. And when you talk to our spouses, those faithful people who put up with night meeting upon night meeting, few raises and lots of frustration, they report that we clergy are even less happy than we say we are.

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By: Nicole Lamarche March 09, 2011

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