Buildings and Church

“The church is not a building, a committee or a board, it’s not a corporation for the business of our Lord.  We are the church.”  I learned Jay Beech’s song “We are the church” at the 1991 Lutheran Youth Gathering in Dallas the summer I turned 15 and the words have stuck with me.  I rarely use the word church.  I replace it or at most add descriptors because I want to be clear that I am not writing about a building structure: “Welcome to worship” or “Can I tell you about my congregation?” or “Our church building is at the corner of Lone Star and Midland.  Continue reading

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Ecumenism In Idaho

I believe that ecumenism has intrinsic value and that it can bear fruit.  I’m not sure about the source of these beliefs.  I grew up in a Lutheran home, graduated from a Lutheran college, worked at a Lutheran camp, interned at two Lutheran congregations, and served as pastor of a Lutheran church in Soldier, Iowa, a town served only by a Lutheran church because it was settled almost exclusively by Norwegian Lutherans.  In all of those settings collegiality among Lutherans was modeled and practiced.


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Trivia and Faith

(A newsletter column for Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa)

Dear Friends in Christ,

Trivia and faith. Many of you have heard me talk about Trivia Night at the Flying M Coffee Garage. This has become a kind of ritual for me, a weekly event I can count on with a second family. Our team is made up of Lutherans, Methodists, Nazarenes, Episcopalians and a Done (someone done with the church). We work in congregations, NNU, and one of us is retired. Does this sound familiar? Continue reading

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Sue and “Dinosaur 13”

“It was a brilliant story, if you didn’t have to live it like the Larsons did.”  This is my favorite line from the the opening of Dinosaur 13.  Directed by Todd Miller, Dinosaur 13 (13) won the 2015 Science and Technology Programming Emmy and was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize.  I love the film and I hate that I have to admit it is biased (for a review which acknowledges the bias and praises the film).

DinosaurCover Continue reading

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1st Anniversary of Trinity New Hope Affordable Housing

April 30 is the one year anniversary of Trinity New Hope.  Here are ten things I’ve learned through our affordable housing adventure:

  1. Affordable Housing has more acronyms than the church, which I never anticipated.  Some essentials for us are IHFA (Idaho Housing and Finance Association), LIHTC (Low-Income Housing Tax Credits), AHIT (Affordable Housing Investment Trust), and Idaho AHMA (Affordable Housing Management Association)
  2. Excavation is necessary after 20 years.  When I learned in a board meeting that we would be hiring someone to excavate the 16 homes I was puzzled and then went out and looked at the houses.  Oh my!  I have no idea how much dirt was put around the foundations of each house but it was substantial.
  3. File cabinets that are both fireproof and lockable are expensive.  In order to be part of the team I offered to secure some office stuff.  I love any excuse to go to an office supply store.
  4. Our congregation’s decision to purchase the houses and become affordable housing landlords was a surprise to some people in our community.
  5. The best part of Trivia Night at the Flying M Coffee Garage is that, unlike the statutes guiding property tax exemptions, there is no place for interpretation.  Answers are right or wrong.  Thank you Team Ravenclaw!
  6. I’ve heard and read it many times but I have now witnessed in person the truth of Margaret Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  This is my shout out to the Trinity New Hope Board, Trinity Lutheran Church Council, and entire Trinity Lutheran Church congregation.
  7. The individuals I’ve met through Idaho’s Region III Housing Coalition along with Trinity New Hope’s Property Manager have deep compassion and are tremendous teachers.
  8. There are no stupid questions for pastors trying to grasp the work of affordable housing.  (I was already pretty sure about this but I appreciated it whenever someone told me that I was not a burden).
  9. Paint, Carpet and a new door can transform an office-turned Sunday School Room-turned Storage Room back into a warm and welcoming office.
  10. We need a greater variety of housing in Nampa.
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The Church with the Ashes

This Sunday, Trinity’s Worship and Music Team and Altar Guild will sit together and imagine what our worship space will look like this spring and summer.  We will also review the Season of Lent and Holy Week.  So I have been remembering the way Lent began for me.

A few weeks before Ash Wednesday I received an email message from a colleague belonging to a congregation which just began celebrating Holy Communion weekly.  “Do you have an extra processional cross or know where we could find one?”   Continue reading

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I had the honor of delivering the invocation at the Canyon County Democratic Caucus Tuesday evening at Sage Valley Middle School.  It was wonderful to see so many people participating in the political process.  Several people have asked me to share the invocation.  Here it is: Continue reading

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