Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Monday, June 26, 2006

OK - so I'm behind in my reading... but I'm finanlly getting around to reading "A Generous Orthodoxy" by Brian McLaren. Here is a great quote that particularly speaks to how I feel.

"For me in the US - now the undesputed superpower in the world - I feel surrounded by Christians who very much like the idea of an American God of a middle class, republican Jesus, first and formost concerned about Our National Security or Our Way of Life. 'The Lord is My Shepherd' becomes 'The Lord is Our President,' elected for us for our national interest... The language of lordship and authority in this context only seem to serve, 'The Powers That Be,' to bolster the status quo to ligitimize and protect whatever regime that is in power. This feels like a tired old story that history has seen rise and fall many times, and it sickens me." - taken from the chapter, " Would Jesus be a Christian?"

I'm not really trying to bash any particular party or affliiation. I mean - was the previous Democratic administration really any better (ok... well, except for the war)? What I'm feel is that our faith should be focused on extending the 'other Kindom' into this world. Not on protecting our wealth. There any many different policitcal views among my friends and all have an aspect of truth. However In the end it's really about realigning our values to Jesus' values. I'm old enough to know now that it's easier said than done - but we have to start somewhere. I'm older now - but I still want to play a part in a revolution!

Interesting stuff... come Lord Jesus!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ordination Service

A few months ago Pastor Bains approached me about exchanging my ordination to the Church of God in Christ. Previously I've been ordained through a small Pentecostal denomiation and also through the Highway Community, the church that we attended in Palo Alto. I was satisfied with the credentials I had since it allowed me to do essentially what I needed. However, I was honored when Pastor approached me. After praying and chatting with Melissa and some of my mentors - I decided to pursue ordination with COGIC. Since I've been ordained for the past 12 years in a group with similar doctrine the Bishop decided to allow me an exchange without further classes.

Last Tuesday night I attended the ordination service. By chance, my sister Kelli and friend Robin were in town and were able to attend the service. What a special blessing to have them there. This was a very special night since the first time I was ordained it was somewhat unceremonious. We were living in Mexico at the time.

The night began with the group of candidates and wives sitting in a room with the prevailing elders of the jurisdiction (local are group of churches) giving us words of wisdom. What an honor to be addressed by these more experienced leaders. Once Bishop W.W. Hamilton with his wife and they gave us last minute words and a prayer we went down to the service already in progress. At the end of the service they led us on stage. Had more words. Then they had us kneel and pray over us, We then were called us up one by on and gave us the official COGIC manual, a cross (to wear during service signifying we are 'ordained) and a certificate of ordination. Then we were led off the stage and all the currently ordained 'elders' laid hand on us and prayed for us. (the term 'elder' refers to someone who is ordained. Ministers are unordained but are 'licensed' - a step down. To be a pastor you must be and elder.)

I feel deeply honored to be in a primarily African American denomination. I feel that God has called us to serve our local church and Pastor Bains specifically and by association, the denomination. I've never been able to say that before as I didn't feel called to any denomination specifically. I'm not sure what God is doing - but a big part of our calling is to racial reconciliation. I can't help but feel that this is part of that. There has been so many transitions and changes over the past few months for Melissa and I - my head is kind of spinning... But I have a sense that God is leading and guiding. So please pray for me, for St. Samuel Church and the COGIC denomination.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Max Torres / St. Sam / Ozomatli

Yesterday was almost the perfect day. Max is here from Houston. He came in to do some training for the BCM summer team. Knowing he was to be here we were able to schedule him to speak at St. Samuel yesterday morning. He did a great job. After service and lunch I returned to church for a baptism service. I was blessed to participate in the baptism of a young man who I watched grow over the last four years in BCM's programs.

After the baptism I picked up Max and Melissa and we ran off to the Ozomatli concert at Mountain Winery. A friend of ours gave us the tickets - a huge blessing.

Max is a great friend - it's a joy to have him around. He has been eating tripitas tacos since he got here - I guess they are outlawed in Texas - go figure.

Friday, June 09, 2006

New Album

Travis from The Work of the People turned me on to this. Check out TWOTP - they produce outstanding videos. This album was produced by T-Bone Burnett. He produced the music for 'O Brother Where Are Thou". Either way, this is a San Francisco band. Great lyrics on this - gospel influenced. Pick it up here or on itunes.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy to Be Home

It's good to be home...

Yesterday was the beginning of my first 'real' week in our new offices. It's a little strange not to be connected to a big team like I had at BCM over the past six years. I don't know if I mentioned it, but we're sharing offices with our church and the non profit Pastor Bains started, Project WeHope. I'm enjoying co-habitating with Connie, Cheryl Bains, JD and Pastor. I really like synergy in an office. Pastor and I had a great talk over lunch about new urbanist development in EPA (yea, I know... It's my current obsession). One rather important perk about our office is that a taco truck parks in front of the building every day. The smell of carne asada begins to waft through at about 11:00. It's just about irresistible. As Homer would say, "Taaaco, mmmmmm."

When my dad was here a couple of weeks ago he blessed us by hanging three overhead fans. He loved showing off by climbing on top of the walls to run the electrical - evidenced by photo. Also you can see the outside of our building and the foyer where the lobby and credit union tellers will be. The building looks like a standard industrial park building - but it's in a great location for the branch opening.

It's good to be in our new digs...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Congress for the New Urbanism in Providence

In the Chicago airport - returning from the CNU conference in Providence, RI. One of the highlights was to be able to spend lots of time with the CCDA folks including John Perkins, Philip Perkins and Mary Nelson. We had a great time scheming, eating, chatting... The photo is of Philip and John Perkins and Mary Nelson. We attended a workshop together.

Regarding the congress - have a lot to say about the experience. First off, thanks to a generous donation of a donor through CCDA I was able to go. It's always good to be exposed to new thoughts and ideas. Providence is a great city - old, historic. I love the East Coast. The CNU is a group of city planners, architects and non profit and for profit developers that are interested in transforming the city into a place that is livable in form and function. It's a response to urban sprawl and unchecked development. It's in many ways a return to looking at the city as an important resource. It call for mixed-use, mixed income development around transportation hubs. Walkable neighborhoods and the development of true neighborhoods and communities are a high value.

Topics were covered that were as diverse as city codes to the end of the oil industry. One especially interesting workshop I attended was around school segregation based on housing choice. Essentially, the speaker was contending that we essentially segregate our schools based on housing affordability. He (as a liberal) was advocating for school vouches as a vehicle to bring equity and solve inner city school problems. Check out Dr. Thomas Nechyba's info and research here. Interesting stuff. We've lived this issue with Samuel.

For me, I went with one thing in mind (and I suspect the other CCDAers did also) - to look at CNU principles in light of gentrification and the redevelopment that has been going on in our communities. It's a little premature for me to write at length about this issue right now. I have a lot to think about. What I can say is that it's almost inevitable that our communities will gentrify and we will have to figure out how those of us doing community development will respond. Bob Lupton coined a phrase recently, "Gentrification with Justice." He contends that a certain amount of gentrification must occur to bring resources into our community. Perhaps the CNU principles will help us bring justice to this issue?

I'm ready to go home... The plane boards soon... Keep praying for me!