Archive for August, 2010

Dry-Cleaning Gratitude

// August 25th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

 
Being a pastor is a weird job. I love the freedom to read, plan worship, talk with interesting people, and sit with scripture and the tradition. But sometimes I just have to laugh at myself and at any expectation I have or someone else might have that I can come up with a spiritual word or reflection. Some weeks the consciousness feels clearer, a gift of the Spirit, and usually a result of time spent reading good words, sitting in silence– God’s primary language– or with loving friends. But what about those other weeks, the weeks like this one where I don’t have childcare and I feel my children and their needs pressed up against me, inseparable from the August heat?
 
I wake up groggy and Perl is cranky, using her “small voice” demanding apple juice in a sippy cup and determined to change out of her pajamas with flowers on them to pajamas with monkeys on them even as I explain that it is daytime and so we should really be putting on regular clothes. In the end I cave and just let her dress herself and she walks around in nothing but soft blue elastic-waisted pajama shorts pulled up to midchest and a pair of lime green sandals. Richie comments that she looks like a retiree in Florida. Later she dons a string of pearls. 
 
I imagine most of us have situations that push us back to our own version of the small, whiny voice within. Our own challenges and frustrations feel like big rock formations encircling a valley of despair, loneliness, and at times self-pity. Ironically the only path I can find up and out of the valley is compassion for myself, what wisdom teachers call “Compassionate self-observation.” Don’t try to force a change in attitude, just observe the dark stuff and don’t hold on to it. And sometimes, when I do that, life provides situations that help me reconnect to gratitude and the dark stuff shifts at least for a moment and I can see my next step on the path.
 
On Monday I gave myself permission to do whatever it took to make it through the day with small children, so that meant we went to Taco Cabana for lunch. And I had a large Diet Dr. Pepper in lieu of a much desired nap (sorry new baby). As we left I noticed a dry cleaner across the parking lot and remembered the soiled cushion cover in the back of the car needing some attention after one of the children from our Montessori preschool co-op spread Aquaphor (which is basically non-petroleum derived Vaseline) all over our new vintage chair. So I drove 20 yards and parked, feeling grumpy in the 107 degree heat as I unbuckled my kids again from their seats and we went inside, where it was even hotter. They had all the doors open and no air conditioning on and the poor man who rang up my order was soaking wet.
 
He was kind enough to let us use their bathroom, even though it was clearly not meant for the general public. And so we went, like a parade of very pregnant and small people, through the back room filled with clinking irons and steam machines and equipment that hissed and sputtered. There were about six people working back there and most of them looked like they had just stepped out of a shower with all of their clothes on. It was hotter and wetter than a sauna and by the time we emerged from the restroom a few minutes later all three of us had very pink cheeks and sweaty brows. This was my gratitude reality check.
 
As I buckled Coleman back into his seat I explained that mommy and daddy were lucky to have jobs that we both really enjoy and where we get to work in comfortable conditions. I swear I even felt a shift in the energy of my little people as the AC in the car cranked into high gear, and they seemed more appreciative than before. And then, gracias a Dios, they fell asleep, and after they got in a good nap we made it through the rest of our day.
 
This week at Church in the Cliff we are talking about
emergent church experiences with Janalee, Stephanie Maxson, Lisa and others sharing some of their story. I still don’t have a good short definition for “emergent” but one feature of emergent communities that I do understand is an emphasis on authenticity.  Say goodbye to Saturday night/Sunday morning Christian dynamics: we are called to be our whole selves all the time.
I find the focus on authenticity very comforting. It means I can be a cranky mother of young children and a pastor. I can be exhausted and barely put together whole sentences one day and able to articulate complex theological arguments on another. I can enjoy cooking and making art and being sweet to my husband sometimes, and other times just want to lock my bedroom doors and take a nap all by myself or watch Madmen on Netflix and eat popcorn and drink ginger ale. I don’t have to pretend to be loving or profound or self-less all the time but rather can just pray that God use all my pieces, including the ones that seem to me less worthy or interesting.
 
As a church that is ecu-mergent I think we are on a similar journey toward integration. I look forward to talking about it more tonight and Sunday with you all.
 
Joy and good things,
 
Courtney
PS Tamales and conversation tonight at our place, 2515 Gladiolus Lane Dallas 75233. 6:30pm. new and old friends welcome!

 

Adam asked me to share info about this upcoming Brite Event which looks important and right up our alley. Anybody want to go? I likely will have a newborn by then, but would love to support it and hear a full report.

Beyond Apologetics:
Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 7:00pm
Robert Carr Chapel at Brite Divinity School
Cost: Free and open
Beyond Apologetics is a symposium of scholars and practitioners who are committed to developing a new generation of thought and practice for ministry with transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay people. The work of participants is based upon the belief that it is time to move beyond an “apologetics of inclusion” to develop theologies and practices that recognize, respect, and integrate the realities of GLBT experiences and new scholarly insights emerging from these communities. Institutional support for the symposium is provided by Brite Divintiy School and Phillips Theological Seminary and funded by a grant from the Carpenter Foundation.

 

Church in the Cliff Board 

 

Ross Prater, Moderator
Damon Petite, Treasurer
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Cara Stoneham, Trustee

 

Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at kristinl.schutz@gmail.com or moderator Ross Prater, at pprate@verizon.net with any questions or feedback.

 

God is Still Speaking

// August 18th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

God is Still Speaking

 
  
Don’t put a period where God puts a comma, God is still speaking.
 
Our faith is over 2,000 years old. Our thinking is not.
 
Church in the Cliff recently voted to explore affiliation with the United Church of Christ (UCC). In addition to being progressive theologically and open and affirming of all people regardless of sexual orientation, UCC seems to be interested in new ways of doing and being church. And they have the coolest ad campaign, as indicated by their slogans above.
 
Please check out their most recent 90 second video message on religion with relevance.
 
I’ll admit it, it made me cry. It is beautiful and upbeat, yet not cheesy. It reconnected me to my own hunger to be part of a church that listens for God and loves people radically in real time– in this life, this very moment.  
 
Some people in the Emergent conversation, which we will talk more about next week, would likely suggest that we are crazy to consider aligning with an existing denomination when many emergent communities are trying to shed old identities. 
 
They may be right. But I kind of like the idea of being aligned with more than one denomination ala a relational location somewhere in the middle of Alliance of Baptist, UMC, and UCC. That seems like a gloriously awkward intersection, and we do well with awkward.
 
We are already affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, as we talked about last week. And I am appointed by the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church to serve in an extension ministry to an ecumenical and emergent context. And In addition to these Baptist and Methodist connections, it is clear from this summer that we bring stories from a variety of denominations and backgrounds. 
 
Consequently it kind of makes sense that we might benefit by being part of another like minded network like UCC. It also opens up another ordination path and job curcuit for our seminarians. Indeed Nancy Allison, the totally fabulous founder of Citychurch/Church in the Cliff, is now ordained by the UCC. (Please check out her current ministry as the lead pastor of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ.)
 
These are good things to pray about and to consider for our future.  Join us tonight for some of Paul’s famous curry and another round of identity conversations as we talk more about the UCC.
 
peace to you this hot, hot day
 
Courtney
community meal tonight at 108 S. Rosemont Dallas, 6:30pm. Please bring drinks and dessert to share.

 

A thank you note that Chloe asked me to share with the church.

 

Dear Church in the Cliff,

I would like to thank everyone in the church for giving me the experience of a mission trip. I would also like to thank everyone at All Souls–the kids,the teachers,and pastor Lonell. This trip opened my eyes to all that is around me and taught me about the struggles that people in New Orleans face everyday. It was a joy to be there to help them and talk to them, to listen to them sing, and to be in service with them. Going on this trip has truly been a wonderful, fun, spiritual, moving, lovable experience that i will never forget.

Love,
Chloe Clark-Soles

Church in the Cliff Board 

 

Ross Prater, Moderator
Damon Petite, Treasurer
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Cara Stoneham, Trustee

 

Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at kristinl.schutz@gmail.com or moderator Ross Prater, at pprate@verizon.net with any questions or feedback.

 

 

 

 

Inspiration Board and Quick Links
 

New to the UCC?

church in the cliff. 214.233.4605. PO Box 5072 Dallas TX 75208
 
 

 

 
Worship at Kidd Springs Rec Center
711 West Canty Street
Dallas, TX 75208-3917
sunday mornings 11:00 am
 
Community meal Wednesdays at 6:30pm in Oak Cliff home.
 

Call for directions! 214. 233-4605

 

 

Flirting with Baptists

// August 11th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

 

Church in the Cliff has a story to tell just as each of us do. And this congregation, originally named CityChurch, has an over ten year history with progressive Baptists. Some people think those two terms don’t go together, but they can, and many in our midst claim them both. One of the ways we acknowledge the unique story of our church is to continue to be in relationship with the Alliance of Baptists, a movement which began as a dissenting voice in Baptist life 23 years ago and today connects progressive Christians of many stripes.
Stephanie and Cara take the lead this week in sharing their individual relationships both to CitC and to the Alliance and why they value the connection between the two (which our congregation recently voted to continue.) Stephanie writes that Alliance is a “relational web that reminds us that there are other people in the U.S. and around the world that also share our fundamental values: the desire to welcome and affirm all people, freedom of individual conscience, a desire for deep reflection and thoughtful living as individuals and community, recognition that God is mystery and cannot be contained in a neatly defined package, a desire for inclusive gender language about God and each other, and a commitment to social justice and sustainable living.” (See Stephanie’s entire reflection below.)
 
It is good to know that we are not the only ones yearning to fill the church-shaped hole with thoughtful and life-giving community. Indeed we are but one of the many many places where God is bringing about the new.
 
So how to make sense of this connection if you don’t identify as Baptist? I think the answer is simple: as a church we are called to love each other and that means that we are willing to engage with those things that others in our community love. Listen to Cara talk about the power of her experience of being ordained by our church and affiliated with the Alliance. It is a love story. Listen to Stephanie talk about being drawn to an Alliance church that was getting into trouble because it was open and affirming and trying to do things differently. It is another love story. Indeed Church in the Cliff itself is a sort of love-child of a group of Dallas area Baptists who wanted to form a community of grace and nonjudgement and to reach out to folks who would never visit a ‘regular church.’ Long-time member Oz wrote a brief history of Citc/Church in the Cliff which I also include below and hope everyone will take a look at to learn more.
 
So whether you are Baptist or Ecu-mergent or something else entirely, it is always good to be thankful for friends on this journey. Join us Sunday as Cara and Stephanie and others share more about the Alliance of Baptists and we all reflect on our connection to the broader Body of Christ.
Peace,
 
Courtney
Ps Tonight Richie and I host the community meal. It is also Perl’s birthday so join us for grilled chicken, Greek salad, and ice cream Sundays at our new place. 2515 Gladiolus Lane Dallas TX 75233. 630 pm. Old and New friends alike!

 

 
Stephanie’s Reflection for CitC Weekly Newsletter August 11, 2010
 
During our summer series, “Filling the Church- Shaped Hole,” we have been listening to each other’s stories and learning about one another’s faith or philosophical journeys. Each week we asked the questions: What does this faith tradition or philosophical path bring to the CitC community? What parts of our personal histories do we feel will contribute positively to the CitC community? What parts of our previous experiences do we wish to leave behind? What draws us to CitC? Who are we as a community and who do we want to be?
 
This week we shift gears a bit and begin to examine where CitC locates itself within the broader contemporary faith conversation. The next three weeks we will engage the Alliance of Baptists, the United Church of Christ, and the emergent conversation. This week Cara Stoneham and I will be sharing about our affiliation and experience with the Alliance. CitC is the fourth Alliance church I have called home since graduating college.
 
One of the refrains I hear over and over in Alliance churches is the assumption that “We are the only church like this; aren’t we lucky to have found this place.” While each church is certainly unique, what I appreciate about the Alliance is the opportunity to be connected with a far reaching association of churches whose theology and practice resonate with what I have come to love about CitC. The Alliance of Baptists is not a denomination, but rather a fascinating relational web that reminds us that there are other people in the U.S. and around the world that also share our fundamental values: the desire to welcome and affirm all people, freedom of individual conscience, a desire for deep reflection and thoughtful living as individuals and community, recognition that God is mystery and cannot be contained in a neatly defined package, a desire for inclusive gender language about God and each other, and a commitment to social justice and sustainable living.
 
The Alliance of Baptists has given me the chance to retain the things I love about my own Baptist heritage, while also allowing me to cultivate values that are central to my life and vocational calling. The fact that I have been able to grow within and contribute to such vibrant, diverse, and quirky communities has made this journey all the more sweet.
 
I look forward to sharing with you my personal story of discovering and committing to the Alliance and to hear Cara’s story of call, ordination, and endorsement by the Alliance. Come on Sunday for an opportunity to listen, respond, laugh, and be community for one another.
 
With great appreciation,
 
Stephanie Wyatt

City Church/Church in the Cliff History by William “Oz” Osborne

 

We were so excited to have a new Baptist church starting in our neighborhood by a friend from Royal Lane Baptist, Nancy Allison.  The first meeting place was at the Pastoral Counseling Center on Lemon.   We had a nucleus of about 30 people. The name, City Church was very important to us and we chose it carefully.  We expected to be a “City Church”.   I started the first website and although it wasn’t nearly as professional as we have now, it was a beginning.  We were initially sponsored by Royal Lane, Wilshire, and Park Cities Baptist churches.  From the beginning we have been an accepting and affirming congregation welcoming everyone.

 

Our first move was to the Theater Three in the Quadrangle.  We would frequently attend the performances at Theater Three, as a group during half price night. We had many artists, both musical and visual attending CC and participating in various art shows and jazz and other events.
We called ourselves a church in a box, as we had to put everything away each Sunday morning and then get them out again the next Sunday.  We had a choir of about 8 or 9 people, and were led by Vaun Little.  Our pastor was Vicki Lumpkin.  Vaun led us in a Christmas musical production at Wilshire Baptist.  Judy Felder was one of the stars.

 

Vaun Little died suddenly and we were left without anyone to lead the singing.  Vicki asked me if I would lead the singing and I told her that I would play my trombone and lead.  I did that for several months and enjoyed it very much.  Ann Morton was our pianist.  We had a business office on Oak Lawn. I was treasurer and was assisted by Judy Bob Moseley.  When both of us got overwhelmed, doing the bookkeeping, we hired Clarice Bishop who had been my business manager before I retired.
Vicki and Charles Darwin found a location for us near Oak Lawn on Routh Street which we began leasing.  Initially this place was perfect, as we had a business office there, children’s room, Sunday school rooms, pastor’s study and worship space.   Vicki resigned and we called a new pastor, Laura Fregin.  Her husband, Fred, moved to Dallas with her and they worked together as a team helping to build the church.

 

We did however outgrow the space on Routh Street and the Fregins found a church, Trinity Presbyterian, in Oak Cliff where we met for several Sundays. We than moved to the present location, Kidd Springs recreation center.  In May of 2009, Laura resigned and we called Courtney Pinkerton as our present pastor.

Church in the Cliff Board 

 

Ross Prater, Moderator
Damon Petite, Treasurer
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Cara Stoneham, Trustee

 

Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at kristinl.schutz@gmail.com or moderator Ross Prater, at pprate@verizon.net with any questions or feedback.

 

 

Inspiration Board and Quick Links
 

Alliance of Baptists

Guitar Mass

// August 4th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

On Monday night Richie and I sat outside on our vintage lawn chairs — turquoise, circa 1955, to go with the new house– and watched the kiddos “water the plants” aka play with the hose. We talked about his experience growing up in a Catholic family in New Jersey and I learned things that I did not know about my husband of almost seven years.
Simple things– like what he remembers about the weekly services he attended with parents and siblings. ‘Guitar Mass,’ as it was called, was the more informal weekly service held in the cafeteria of the Catholic school adjacent to the sanctuary. Guitar Mass consisted of a priest upfront, an altar set up and broken down each Sunday, a group of guitar-playing musicians, and rows of folding chairs. On Richie’s favorite weeks everyone sang together of Mother Mary in the Beatles song ‘Let it Be.’ 
 
This was starting to sound familiar.
 
“Church in the Cliff is guitar Mass,” my manfriend explained to me. I had to stop and think about that one for a while. The comment actually helped me realize that I continue to carry some assumptions about “Catholics” that I should probably take out and revisit.
Growing up in a Methodist Church here locally, I did not hear a lot about the Catholic tradition. I had an elementary friend who was Catholic and an awkward visit to her church once where her mom told me I couldn’t take communion with them (She looked at me meaningfully as she kind of pushed me back on my bottom in the pew and said “Someday I hope you can…..” Not her best mama moment. But I digress.)
 
Mostly I only saw Catholic churches from the outside in. Riding by in the car I would notice that their crosses had Jesus still hanging there and I would wonder about that. I knew that we were all Christian, but I also internalized an unspoken message from family, friends, and fellow churchgoers: there is a difference between Protestants and Catholics, and they are other, and so one should be respectful but a little suspicious of their tradition and practices.
 
Now, I hope I’ve learned a few things since then. I’ve gone to conferences and heard smart, passionate young Catholics talk about Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and her radical hospitality and care for the poor. I have fallen in love with the teachings of Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. Thomas Merton, a religious thinker, social critic, Cistercian monk and powerful author provides the quote for our weekly program: “The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.”
 
Maybe the thick line of ‘otherness’ is not quite so impenetrable.
 
And yet when Richie said that Church in the Cliff was guitar Mass, some part within me resisted. We aren’t guitar Mass. We are progressive and creative and Mass is well, more formal and uptight, right? It was then that I saw it. My own mental map: the silos where I store information based on what I believe to be true. And somehow I had managed to carry through this idea from my childhood that there is a boundary between Catholic and Protestant traditions and my side is better, more open, and more flexible. Do any of you still carry one or more of these assumptions? 
But really, I think Richie’s analogy stands. Especially considering the timeframe he grew up in and the major upheavals occurring in the Catholic Church in the wake of Vatican II. (Pope John XXIII called the second Vatican Council in the early/mid 1960s to “open the windows of the church and let in some fresh air”-specifically with the goals of restoring unity among all Christians and starting a dialogue with the contemporary world.)
Vatican II changed everything and local parishes were engaged in the messy work of trying to figure out what it all meant: how to worship in English rather than Latin, how to make the formal liturgy more inclusive of the voices of the laity, how to change music and venue and whatever else it took to enliven the practice. In this way I think Church in the Cliff and our worship likely does share some attributes with the ‘Guitar Mass’ of Richie’s youth. We too strive for more inclusivity, intentionality with our language, and a healthy examination of theological assumptions.
 
Now I recognize that I am traveling across some deep and complex terrain in a few brief paragraphs. But I look to the individual stories of our members to ground our conversation this week. Indeed, by inviting folks who grew up Catholic and Lutheran to share in the same week we have an opportunity to honestly examining a historic divide between Protestants and Catholics. Let us come together to listen deeply to Kristin, Damon, Richie and others as they share their experiences and let us be open to the quickening voice of God as She cuts through our previous misconceptions and partial truths.
 
Church in the Cliff folks seem to enjoy meaty subject matter and a little controversy. So join us tonight and Sunday for what I expect will be good talks and good times.
 
Courtney
Paul is making beans, rice and a big summer salad. Bring drinks, dessert and a little cash. 108 S. Rosemont, 6:30pm. See you there, newcomers and old friends alike! Call 214 233-4605 with questions.