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Last week, I wrote about Starbucks’ Green Apron Book and asked whether the 5 Principles that Starbucks’ employees are trained to follow might guide the church in its efforts to establish and maintain a presence on social networking platforms. That post prompted some great discussion, not only about social media (in fact, mostly NOT about social media) but about broader topics such as the art of creating experiences, whether other comparisons between Starbucks and the church are valid, and even whether or not they have good coffee. I agree, the jury’s out on that last one, but I’d also argue that people aren’t paying $4 for coffee (a product) – they’re paying for coffee PLUS the experience (or at least, in the case of drive-thru customers, the emotional connection with the brand).

Photo: Randy OHC (Creative Commons license)

Photo: Randy OHC (Creative Commons license)

But it was Jerry’s comment that sparked today’s post: “Let me know when you figure out how to celebrate the Eucharist on the social media.”

There are the mechanics of ‘figuring it out,’ but what I think Jerry was getting at are the bigger questions and issues. Before we launch into a big discussion or debate, what I’d like for you (reader) to help me do is identify the important questions. Let’s start there. Then I think we’ll have a better discussion.

One place to look for the questions is online. Some churches are already celebrating Communion there – evangelicals in multi-site mega-churches experimenting with online church and Communion, yes; but also Methodists and Anglicans, and probably some Presbyterians. Maybe even Disciples!

In reading around  (see the list at the end of this post), here are some of the issues and questions that come up. Some of these don’t apply to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), but they’re worth knowing about. These are specifically about Communion, not the broader topic of online church.

  • The need for participation to happen in the context of a physical community (I’m deliberately staying away from using the word ‘real’ here) such as a Sunday morning worship service in a church.
  • The amount of need for control over who can participate (members of that particular church or denomination only? any baptized believer? anyone?)
  • The role of the clergy or celebrants with regard to the sacraments (Do celebrants have to consecrate the elemants? Online, is BYObread-and-juice ok? What about a ‘virtual’ sacrament, like in Second Life?)
  • What is Communion all about in the first place? Is it a ‘love feast’? A memorial? Is Christ present, and if so, how? Is it a means of receiving grace and forgiveness?

Some practical considerations:

  • People who can’t get to church (i.e. homebound, institutionalized, incarcerated, those with disabilities, etc)
  • What happens when public health concerns or natural disasters force people to stay home? My experience with online Communion was with a Disciples congregation dispersed across several states in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Might participating in online church (and Communion) lead someone who otherwise would not go to church to eventually connect with a local congregation? Or does it keep people from coming to a brick-and-mortar church by aiming to replace it?
  • What about those whom the church has hurt? Or those from whom the church has distanced itself?

Theological considerations (beyond those surrounding Communion):

  • In most of the discussions I’ve seen, the predominant theological question seems to be “What is church?”
  • A less-discussed theological topic is “Where is God in this?”

Help me out here….what other questions should be in the mix?

I hope you’ll follow some of these links and read what others have written, and then come back and add your questions:

Rev. Thomas Madron’s site (click on the PDF link to read his paper in favor on online Communion…written from a Methodist perspective but still fairly relevant for Disciples)

Lifechurch.tv – a multi-site evangelical church that also offers an online worship experience, with Communion.

Newsweek’s Belief Watch: “Click in Remembrance of Me?

This post by John Saddington on Church Crunch, about Online Church, which includes several helpful links.

An interesting discussion in ChurchCrunch’s Forums

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Photo: darkensiva (Creative Commons license)

Photo: darkensiva (Creative Commons license)

There have been several humorous comparisons between church and Starbucks. If you haven’t seen the YouTube video, “What if the Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?” come back to this link after reading this post and check it out.

Now let’s turn it around. What if the church behaved more like Starbucks? What I’m suggesting has nothing to do with coffee…and everything to do with something called The Green Apron Book.

The Green Apron Book is a booklet that Starbucks gives its baristas. My stepdaughter worked at Starbucks for a while, and passed along the booklet. It outlines Starbucks mission: “To provide an uplifting experience that enriches people’s daily lives,” along with 5 Principles for doing exactly that:

1. Be Welcoming: Offer everyone a sense of belonging
2. Be Genuine: Connect, discover, respond
3. Be Knowledgeable: Love what you do. Share it with others.
4. Be Considerate: Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment.
5. Be Involved: In the store, in the company, and in the community.

Others, like Jeff Myers of the Slumdog Disciple blog, have already picked up on the notion that The Green Apron Book might have something to teach us about the experience we create for people (whether we claim that aspect of ‘church’ or ignore it). Darrin at the Hands and Feet 2.0 blog wrote a series of posts. Both Darrin and Jeff also mention the book, The Starbucks Experience by Joseph A. Michelli (McGraw Hill, 2006) for a more in-depth look at the 5 principles. But if you don’t want to go into that much depth, Jeff says The Green Apron Book is yours for the asking at Starbucks.

Here’s what I’d like to add. These 5 principles are a good guideline for Christians and churches when it comes to social media. Think about it. As Will Boyd of 3StoryChurch has pointed out in past posts like this one, there’s a lot more you can do on Twitter, Facebook, and other networks than just promote your programs, classes, sermons, and worship services.

We live in a world with abundant information. What people seem to be looking for are authentic, positive experiences. If your presence online and in the realm of social media is about creating that for them, even in small ways, they’ll be more likely to come to your website to see what else you have to offer.

And of course, follow through is important. If someone who connected with you or your church via social media shows up on Sunday morning, they should expect an in-person experience that matches the online presence. [For more on that, click the link to the YouTube video at the beginning of this post].

So how about it? Would you take a copy of The Green Apron Book to your next church board meeting, elder’s meeting, or small group discussion?

Like many pastors I’ve taken up blogging.   I expect that each of us blogs for different reasons – I read enough of these blogs to get sense of how different we are in our use of the blogs.  But, each of us blogs because we have something to say to a broader audience – an audience that is likely broader than our immediate congregation.  On any given day I get between 150 to 250 hits.  That’s not huge, but it’s respectable, and it is a number far beyond the number I reach in my own congregation (especially when you take a weekly cumulative number).

Rebecca asked me to write this post in part because I blog so frequently.  My practice is to blog daily, except when I’m simply unable to get to a computer with internet access!  Part of my reasoning for blogging daily might have something to do with vanity.  I want to attract readers.  With that in mind, early on I had read a blog post by Scot McKnight, author of the Jesus Creed blog, which said that if you want to attract and keep a readership, you have to blog daily.  I took up the challenge, and have tried to keep up the pace ever since – and my readership has grown as a result.

As to why I blog –  I must confess up front that one of the attractions of blogging is that it allows me to publish whatever I want to publish, whenever I want to publish it.  I am my own editor.  Now,  I enjoy writing, so this is not drudgery.  Before I took up blogging I had to depend on the good graces of publishers and journal editors – and I have been able to put out a fairly large number of published pieces, including three books and numerous articles and reviews for both general and academic journals – to get my thoughts in print.  Although I have a fairly large corpus of published works, and I even edit a journal (Sharing the Practice), that has never seemed to be enough for me.  So, now I can write what I want, when I want, with few if any filters (the only real filter is me – I’m ever cognizant of the fact that I have a family and I’m a pastor).

In my personal blog – Ponderings on a Faith Journey –  I write upon a wide spectrum of issues, but always with my faith in mind (except those occasions when I talk sports).  Even my political posts usually have a faith component.  I also have sermon blog, on which I post my sermons each week entitled Words of Welcome.

The question is – how do I keep this in balance with my daily work as a pastor and my commitments to family?  That is a difficult question to answer, except to say I do my best to keep things balanced.  Much of what I write are reflections on theology and the daily news.  Sometimes I pick up political/social/cultural issues – usually after reading the news online.  I might pick up a point to comment on.  Sometimes it’s the comments made by my visitors that propels a series of blog posts.  I tend not to engage in too many conversations in the comments section, but instead, offer up a new post to further the conversation.  Blogging has also given me impetus to finish the books I read – especially the ones sent to me by publishers – so that I can offer reviews.  As you can see there is an untold amount of information to dig through, reflect upon, and comment upon.  There are times, when I have to really dig deep to come up with something, but that usually has more to do with where I’m at that day than it does with regard to my sources of information.

One of the things that a blogging pastor has to be aware of is the “employer.”  Rebecca,  in inviting me to offer this post, commented that I often pick up controversial issues.  That is true.  I’ve endorsed a candidate for President – noting carefully that I did so as private citizen and not as a pastor.  I’ve dealt with gay marriage, the death penalty, war, and even abortion.  If you’re a church member and you have access to the blog you likely know what I think about such issues.  Now, I have the advantage that the search committee – or at least some members of the search committee – had been reading my blog even as we were in the interview process.  They knew in advance that I took up controversial issues, that I was somewhat to the left on certain issues, and that I wasn’t afraid to express them on the blog.   When I was presented to the congregation, it was noted that I was a blogger.  So, even if you don’t agree with my positions, you know I do this.  That gives me a certain amount of freedom.  But, at the same time I try not to abuse that freedom.  My suggestion to prospective blogging pastors is simply to check it out with your leadership.  Let them know what you’re up to.  If they have concerns about what you write, then heed their warnings.

Not every pastor needs to have a blog, though having ways of utilizing the new media is important.  But if you’re going to do this, and do it right, you have to enjoy writing.  I write, because it’s part of who I am, and I’m thankful that I have this outlet to express my thoughts.  Hopefully over the course of time, I’ve become a better writer and more adept at sharing my thoughts clearly and as concisely as I’m able!   I will let my readers decide if this is true.

Preacher Bob 4-5-2009Bob Cornwall is Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church of Troy, MI, husband of Cheryl, and father of Brett.  He is also editor of Sharing the Practice  (Academy of Parish Clergy) and a regular contributor to the Christian Century blogTheolog.

It’s been a long week with much to blog about. Not surprisingly, the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, tops the list of blogged-about topics. While some argue that the church ought to get out of the civil marriage business, Bill McConnell wrote (actually last week) that it’s the state that ought to butt out.  Steve Kindle, of the Open Hearts, Affirming Pages blog, posted several items this week. And Danny Bradfield, over at Field of Dandelions, mentions it in this Pentecost-related post.

Photo: ptrktn (Creative Commons license)

Photo: ptrktn (Creative Commons license)

In a tangentially related post, The Prophet Joel asks whether the “Open & Affirming” designation adopted by some LGBT-friendly churches puts politics before Christ. His post before that one is good Friday afternoon reading: Television Characters Who Are Seminary Drop-Outs.

We also began the week with Memorial Day, when we remember those who have lost their lives serving our country and protecting our freedoms. Charlie Cochran blogs about God and fireworks. And Pastor Bob Cornwall shares A Prayer for Memorial Day on his Ponderings on a Faith Journey blog.

I also missed a great post last week, from the Field of Dandelions blog: “Beer, Revisited.” I won’t try to explain. Just read it.

Shortest post of the week: found on the Ageing Xperience blog.

My favorite post this week comes from Keith McAlliley who writes the Blogging from Bridgeport blog. Keith calls us to really give some hard thought to what we mean, as Christians, when we talk (obsessively, sometimes) about the need for building “community” in our churches. Do we just want social time? A support group? Or is it about something else altogether? Read what he has to say, and share what you think with him.

Got a blog post you’d like us to feature next Friday? Don’t be shy. Email us: news AT disciplesworld DOT com. Have a great weekend.

By Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is an author and new church planter in Pueblo Colorado with his wife, Amy. His podcast can be found on iTunes, or by visiting his website at www.christianpiatt.com.

When I first heard of podcasting, I thought it was pretty cool. Immediately, I went online and set up free subscriptions for way more of my favorite shows than I can reasonably listen to, but as a junkie for free information, I couldn’t pass it up!

How great would it be, I thought, if I could do my own podcast? But surely it’s way too complicated and time-consuming to manage myself, right? I had received a book on podcasting a while back, but I was too intimidated to get started. For months, it remained no more than a good idea in the back of my mind.

Then, because of a series of curious circumstances, I ended up with a credit of a couple hundred bucks at my local music store, which is a dangerous thing. I wandered the aisles for a while and came across a cabinet of digital recorders. The price tags ranged from $200 to $350 bucks, and given my experience with digital recording gear, I assumed these were mediocre gadgets at best.

Turns out that digital recording technology has come a long way both in quality and affordability. Next thing you know, I’m on my way home with a little portable unit, complete with built-in microphones, cables and headphones. At home, I did a few test runs, speaking and playing into the recorder, amazed at the quality of this little machine that ran off of four AA batteries.

Maybe this podcast thing is not such a crazy idea after all.

I got online and found links to Audacity, a free audio mixing software program. Surely, I figured, this thing is lame. I mean, who can get anything decent out of some freeware? But the more reviews of it I read, the more convinced I became that it could at least handle my basic needs.

Next, I’d need a host site – somewhere to put my podcasts online so people could find and play them. Again, after some browsing, I found Podbean, one of many podcast “hosts” who offer free basic packages to get you started. Like others, they charge for premium services and extra memory storage, but I could get started and see if this podcasting thing was right for me without signing up for some pricey membership.

As a fan of National Public Radio, I had a fantasy of making my podcast sound like “This American Life,” so I’d need some sound clips to break up the narrative. I found more than I could use in three lifetimes at FreeLoops.com and The Freesound Project.

Outfitted with all the necessary gear, now I needed some interesting content. I started by narrating a few chapters from my newest book project, followed by a memoir-style account of my own faith journey and some spoken word clips. But what about ministry? Could I use podcasting to get the word out about our church on a local scale, or maybe nationally? That’s when I put together the “Big Fat Jesus Head” series I did with my wife.

I was getting some decent traffic from friends and people I told about my new project on Facebook, but I wondered if there was another way to get my work in front of people who liked podcasts, but who might not know who I was. That’s when I learned about Podcatchers, which are online services that serve as a clearinghouse and search tool for the thousands of podcasts out there.

In a few months, I’ve gone from this podcasting thing being an intriguing but daunting idea to having almost 600 hits on my first handful of episodes. Even better, when people search my name on search engines, the podcast is yet another thing that pops up. My literary agent was thrilled too, because that book project she was promoting for me found a foot in the door when a publisher showed interest in listening to the first few chapters online.

Next steps include recording Amy’s sermons, archiving personal stories from members of our church, concerts and interviews with other activists, artists and various people of interest. Aside from being a great tool for non-readers to get your message, there’s something deeply personal about hearing someone’s story or message in their own voice.

Now that I got it going, I have to wonder why it took me so long to come around. Turns out even we tech-heads have our hang-ups about new technology. But like anything else, it’s just a new tool at my disposal and, once I learned how to use it properly, became another avenue for personal expression, publicity and connection with people regardless of place or time.

Even better, it’s broadening our circle of people who hopefully will get some benefit from the ministries we’re doing here in Pueblo. If what Amy preached about Sunday can help someone in Nebraska a month from now, it just extends the life and scope of our ministry.

If you ask me, that’s technology at its best.

To sign up for Christian’s E-newsletter, “Faith Portals,” visit www.christianpiatt.com, or email him at cpiatt@christianpiatt.com.

Last week, I threw a bit of a teaser out there, with this whole “Spider vs. Starfish” concept. As I’m sure many of you have lost hours of sleep, and perhaps have had a hard time forcing down a decent meal in eager anticipation of the follow-up, I figured it wasn’t fair to keep you waiting any longer.

The whole concept came from a book on business management practices, called The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. The model presented here resonates with the idea I’ve had for a while now that church could learn a whole lot from the structure and governance of organizations like twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. After all, they have reached millions with virtually no budget, and they seem immune to economic conditions, flourishing while we institutional churches struggle to keep the doors open.

So what’s the difference?

I might help answer that question with another question; if you cut the head off a spider, what happens? We all know it dies, right? But what if you cut off the arm of a starfish? It just grows another starfish. Where you once had one, there are now two. In trying to stop it, you actually only made it stronger.

So, how many of our churches are more like spiders instead of starfish? I thought so.

Here’s where the advent of recent technology might teach us an awful lot. If Rebecca Woods will indulge me in the future, I’d gladly post some other blogs about using applications like facebook, podcasting and blogging to further our ministries, but for now, let’s consider them a little more systematically.

In particular, consider a phenomenon known as “Web 2.0.” This is much like the so-called “leaderless organizations” that Brafman and Beckstrom are referring to. They are viral in nature, highly adaptable and scalable, and relatively easy to manage because the users generate the content.

I’ll offer a few examples to clarify the differences between a 1.0 – or spider – model and a 2.0 – or starfish – system. Amazon, which has become a behemoth presence for online commerce, would be considered a 1.0 model. They have a product that they sell to customers, pretty much in the traditional model, despite their lack of storefronts. Though they’ve been successful up until now, they are depending on some basic truths about the market. If, for example, the cost of paper or transport fuel went through the roof, it would affect their business model significantly, or if a supplier shut down, they might be stuck.

eBay, on the other hand, is a 2.0, or starfish, model. eBay, as you probably know, doesn’t actually sell anything. All they do is create the framework within which people can conduct business. This means they can be a conduit for everything from sweat socks to automobiles and homes. If the price of gold plummeted and jewelry markets crumbled, people could just sell more baseball cards or used books on eBay.

Another comparison might be looking at the difference between the traditional military structure versus a network like Al Qaida. Though you can throw an entire military into chaos by attacking its senior leadership or supply lines, Al Qaida is hard to stop in one sense because it is a headless beast. You kill or capture current leaders, and a dozen more pop up in their place. The system is so adaptable, it’s hard to stop.

Our churches have been based upon a 1.0 “spider” model for centuries, and so far, it’s worked pretty well. But now, we’re surrounded by starfish like facebook, Craigslist, BitTorrent, MySpace, eBay and the like, and we wonder why it is that we, the institutional church, don’t seem relevant to younger people.

For starters, we not only don’t look familiar: we don’t even look relevant.

People may not be able to put their finger on it, but they know 1.0 versus 2.0 when they see it, especially younger people. There are consequences to being a starfish organization instead of a spider, such as letting go some control over the content exchanged within the system, but there’s great opportunity as well.

In future installments, I’ll discuss a few more ways in which we can employ Church 2.0 methods in our existing congregations, both with technology, and even on our boards and in our Sunday School rooms. But for now, look around you and see if you can start spotting the differences between the spiders and starfish, all around you.

Until next time!

Christian Piatt is the author of MySpace to Sacred Space: God for a New Generation, and Lost: A Search for Meaning, and he is a columnist for various newspapers, magazines and websites on the topics of theology and popular culture. He is the co-founder of Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Amy. For more information about Christian, visit www.christianpiatt.com.

I’ve been asked a number of times to speak to various churches and other leadership groups about young adults, their relationship to organized religion, and their take on – and use of – technology. Unfortunately, church and technology tend to generally mix about as well as the football team and chess club. Neither the two shall meet, right? Who needs technology to find God, after all?

Sure, a few of us may have put up a screen to show words to our praise songs, and we may have even had a kid from the youth group throw together a website for us…which hasn’t been updated in about forty-seven years or so. As they say in the twelve-step tradition: how’s that working out for you? Folks generally fall into one of two categories. Either they are terrified by technology and want to have nothing to do with it in church at all, or they see it as some sort of silver bullet that, if aimed properly, will magically fill the now-empty pews with young families.

In truth, neither perspective is particularly realistic. For one, technology isn’t going anywhere, so by ignoring it, we risk making our churches even more irrelevant. On the other hand, if we hope that technology – or emergent worship, whatever that is, or a groovy website, or even a podcast – will save us from a fate we’re hoping to avoid, we may be putting way more trust into a handful of tools than they deserve.

Rebecca has invited me to contribute a few pieces to the NewsMuse blog, for which I’m honored and grateful. In future installments, I hope to share some ideas about how technology can be used to complement a vibrant ministry, as well as dispelling some misconceptions about technology, digital media, social networking, emergent worship and so many of these postmodern-emergo-hip buzz phrases we hear so often, yet about which we understand very little. So stay tuned to explore questions with me such as:

What exactly is “Church 2.0?”

Are you a Spider Church or a Starfish Church?

What do young adults really want from organized religion?

What the heck does it mean to be postmodern, and what is emergent worship?

Until next time!

Christian Piatt is the author of MySpace to Sacred Space: God for a New Generation, and Lost: A Search for Meaning, and he is a columnist for various newspapers, magazines and websites on the topics of theology and popular culture. He is the co-founder of Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Amy. For more information about Christian, visit www.christianpiatt.com.

The next issue of DisciplesWorld (Jan/Feb) deals with glbt persons in ministry.  It promises to be an interesting issue. We’ve tried to portray the controversies fairly, but also to get beyond them to what holds us together as church.

On that topic, this morning I came across something of interest from Rev. Russ Whaley, a United Methodist pastor who wrote an opinion piece for United Methodist News Service.

With its General Conference coming up in April, in the same location where the Disciples had our General Assembly last summer, the UMs (or at least some faction) are apparently pushing the idea of barring non-heterosexuals from membership. So much for Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. 

My guess is that a survey of rank-and-file Methodists and Disciples would produce a similar range of opinions. What I’m finding kind of remarkable is the impact of church structure and governance on how we deal with this and other controversial issues. Frustrating as it may be for us Disciples, sometimes, to not have a heirarchical structure or a collection of written rules like the Methodists’ Book of Discipline, we can never get far from having to reckon (and reconcile) with one another. 

And that has made all the difference.

A couple of weeks ago, DisciplesWorld was given information that led to an article about Disciples Home Missions, which we posted on our website yesterday.  The editors of the magazine would like to share some of our thoughts behind this story.

————————————-

This has been an extremely difficult story to write.  It involves church leaders with whom we work and worship on a regular basis. We love the church and the individual people who together comprise the church. This story has raised the hard questions of what it means to live a Christian life acutely aware of the ways in which we fail God and one another, and the ways in which we are reconciled to God and one another. It raises questions of accountability and transparency, and questions of mercy and care. This story will not be the last in this saga. 

The story began when long-time DHM employee Jane Lawrence was asked by Interim President Dan Clark to clear out her desk and leave the building on the same day she announced her retirement, August 27. This was also Clark’s first day on the job.  That’s unusual.

We’ve reported on other abrupt departures of DHM employees over the years, but those were often dictated by a decrease in funding. Lawrence’s work was pivotal to a number of programs that serve congregations, young leaders, and regions; why wouldn’t she be retained for some continuity in an interim period? General ministries serve the whole church and DHM board members are elected by the church. What happened here?

Clark would not give an explanation other than to say that Lawrence’s retirement was effective on August 27. 

Lawrence’s explanation is that she was treated disrespectfully after 17 years of service at DHM in reprisal for bringing concerns about former president Arnold Nelson’s judgment and leadership to the attention of the DHM board. 

Is this credible? Were Lawrence’s prior actions something that could bring about a reprisal? Those questions led us back to the resignation of Nelson which was announced May 21. DisciplesWorld reported on Nelson’s resignation then, and wrote a longer article in the July/August issue. We reported what we now recognize to be only part of the truth because we were not aware of the events and charges that preceded his resignation.

Understandably, DHM board members and staff alike have been cautious about publicly discussing confidential personnel matters such as Nelson’s resignation and the handling of Lawrence’s retirement. However, we have confirmed the brunt of Lawrence’s claim about what led to Nelson’s resignation. And we have confirmed that several DHM board members were very unhappy with staff about it.   

So, here we have a general ministry of the church about which rumors have circulated for years, rumors of poor judgment and dysfunction, rumors about a close-knit board of directors that likes to operate in secrecy, complaints about a lack of vision and lack of responsiveness. But rumors alone are not news.

And a window on that system has opened up, albeit one opened by a woman who served the church for her entire career and is now relegated to the role of “disgruntled employee.” But it has opened, nevertheless. As a result, questions arise about the operations of the DHM board of directors, many questions that remain unanswered. Questions concerning accountability and transparency, decision-making, and oversight.

DisciplesWorld made attempts to find out answers. Not surprisingly, several people in positions of leadership were unwilling to speak with us. Late last week, we made some headway and are working on a follow-up article that gives DHM leadership’s perspective on its operations and systems of accountability.

Not all of the answers to questions will reveal scandal, of course. The motives of the DHM board may well be good and honorable, but without some transparency before the people who elected them and the congregations they serve, the actions of the DHM board become suspect. They become suspect even if they don’t deserve to be suspect. Understand here that we are not accusing the DHM board of wrong doing; we are asking questions that if go unanswered leave the mind open to wonder and worry. And they are not unreasonable questions for church folks to ask of their elected leaders.

The irony is that if Clark had not so abruptly dismissed Lawrence from the building and declined to explain it, the questions about Nelson’s resignation and the operations of the DHM board may have never seen the light of day.

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