Where were you on 9/11?

Every year at this time, for the past 17 years, this question comes up in conversations: "Where were you on 9/11?"

That day in 2001 was a watershed event for much of the world.  I know I will never forget that day.

December 7, 1941 was that day for my father when he was still in elementary school.

My sister probably remembers November 22, 1963 or maybe April 4, 1968 when she was a teenager.

Where were you that day?

I was living in Japan at the time. There was 13 hours difference between Kobe and New York, so I had just put my son to be around 9:00 pm on a Tuesday evening, and then continued reading a book while everything was happening in the USA.

I did not discover what had happened until about 6:45 am on Wednesday in Japan (5:45 pm, Tuesday in New York).  By that time, most everyone in the USA had spent 8-9 hours watching non-stop news on CNN or other networks.  It was just beginning for me.

I sent my son to school that morning like usual, and he learned what had happened…

Labor Day Weekend

When I was younger, Labor Day was a turning point in the year.

Some places that I lived, school started the Tuesday immediately following Labor Day. I guess, because I liked school, it was a pretty good time.

In other places, we had already been in school a couple of weeks, so the holiday weekend reminded us that there would not be another holiday for a long time (usually Thanksgiving).  Ouch!

I seem to remember among the proper women of the Deep South, Labor Day was when they stopped wearing white shoes and dresses.  (I am not sure if that is even a thing anymore.)

For some of my friends, Labor Day Weekend was the last opportunity to go to the beach before fall.  Now that I am older, I never schedule a beach trip until the fall to avoid the crowds. I, personally, don't like the traffic or the waits to get a table in a restaurant.

On this Labor Day, I am not working, though I did pop into the office to take care of a few things. Sometimes I am asked about my schedule and when I t…

Back to School

I don't know about you, but I have always liked this time of year.

I look back, and I have started afresh in late August or September a new chapter of my life (or in my child's life) for most of my 57 years.

I started Kindergarten when I was 4 years old (turning 5 in November), and thirteen years in a row, I started a new grade.

Then it was college, four years beginning in late August.  I had jobs for most of that time, but the school year determined my rhythm.

I followed college with seminary, and was enrolled in some kind of class for eight semesters straight.  I also worked, studied in Washington, DC and even ran a camp while a student.  The school year was what gave my life structure.

After seminary, I went to graduate school, and not only was a student, but taught and did research while on the school calendar.  Even when I started working full-time in local churches, I was still officially enrolled until I was 35, and had finished that last degree. Counting it all up- 31…


Back in April, Rose and I took a short vacation to London. I had been there overnight a couple of times in my life, but never really got to see and explore the city.

I wanted to get a feel for my Methodist roots, so London was a great place to start, and we took a side trip to Oxford while we were there.

John Wesley began his life in Epworth in Lincolnshire about 170 miles north of London (our next trip to England will include that excursion). He was basically homeschooled by his mother Susannah for the first part of his education, and at age 10, he was enrolled at Charterhouse in central London. 

We walked by that area on our trip but did not take time explore Charterhouse and surroundings because we spent that Sunday at Wesley's Chapel and his old home place (about a mile away).

We followed that Sunday with a trip on Monday to Oxford, about an hour train ride from London. It was here that I began to feel the roots of the Methodist movement.

Wesley spent about five years at Chri…

Camping and Camp Meeting

My son called me on Monday to tell me about his week at Wilderness Trail.  I think this is his 12th year to be involved in that ministry either as a camper or a staff person.

He spent three years as a counselor, and was an assistant director his last year on staff.  The past two years he has gone up to lead hikes for a week at a time.

I spent time as a Camp Director, and have spent many days as a volunteer in summer camps over the past 40+ years of my life.  I know the power of camping and outdoor ministries.

I am writing this while camp meeting is going on at Rock Springs Camp Ground in Denver, NC. In the next week, Ball's Creek Camp Meeting will be in full swing.

Both camp meetings and church camping have been instrumental in the life of the church for over 200 years. The best that I can tell, the very first camp meeting in America was held in 1794 on the grounds that Rehobeth United Methodist Church occupies now.  As I write, I look out on a plot of land that might have been c…

Appointed to a Zip Code with a Church in It

I can't remember the year that Bishop Goodpaster challenged all of us on Sunday of Annual Conference to think of our appointment to a "zip code, that just happens to have a church in it." But, I still think of that sermon on a regular basis.

As I met with him regularly while on the conference staff, he reiterated that point regularly with clergy and laity across the conference.

It was a different way to think about the church and its mission.  It was an idea that has resonated with me for a long time.

I believe that the local church is the primary place where disciples are made and nurtured.  But, I also believe that the local church exists to make a difference in its community, and is to always be focused outward on the surrounding community as its mission field.

Here are some things I have discovered about the mission field where I have been sent:
Terrell is a town of about 1000 people, with one stop light, a post office, a few businesses, and it has a strong rural fee…

The View Out My Window

My new church is a historic place.

It dates back to 1789, and is considered the first Methodist Church west of the Catawba River in North Carolina.

Out my office window is a cemetery filled with history.  The first settlers in the wilds of North Carolina with names like Sherrill and Beatty lie in rest (thus Sherrills Ford and Beatties Ford are common landmarks in these parts).

Out in one corner of the cemetery near the large oak tree is the grave of Daniel Asbury, the circuit rider who started Methodism on the frontier in western North Carolina.

Asbury (no family relation to Francis) had quite a story.  Born in 1762, he was raised in Fairfax County, Virginia, and at age 16 he went to Kentucky taking provisions to a frontier fort.  He was captured by Shawnee Indians, and was taken out west, then to Canada and later was turned over to the British at a fort in Detroit during the Revolutionary War.

He was released and found his way back to Virginia, where he was converted and became a Me…