Learning From Hearts Broken Open

Lessons from 25 Years of Ministry on the Growing Edge

My nephew was a bright, ascending star. His academic acumen was extraordinary. His athletic ability was astounding. Musically, he was captivating with a repertoire and skill that could have landed him just about anywhere. And on July 14, 2018, he took his own life. Journalist Roxanne Roberts was right when she wrote of her father’s death more than 30 years... Read more

Achieving Failure

Lessons Learned from a Progressive Church Start-Up

With a big smile, a bit of money raised, and enough naiveté to blind me, I showed up to the office of the Conference of the Northern California Nevada United Church of Christ. It was the fall of 2010, and I had left a beautiful village church in New England to follow the call to start a new progressive church for this place and this time. There was enthusiasm... Read more

Getting Our Bearings: Ministries of Coping

A Guide for Reflection & Conversation

If you look up the words “cope” or “coping” in a dictionary, you’ll find entries like these: “to struggle or deal with, especially on fairly even terms of with some degree of success,” “to face and deal with problems or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner,” or “to have the capacity to deal successfully with something difficult.” Their... Read more

Generating Church through Sound

Showing up, Listening Deeply, and Practicing Together

I teach community singing and chanting as a spiritual practice. I travel around the country meeting and singing with people in different denominations, teaching and learning new songs and insights, and moving on to the next community. Through more than 30 years, the singing together has become as much a metaphor for noticing our internal states, finding our... Read more

Small Is the New Big

A Guide for Reflection & Conversation

The articles in this month’s Bearings magazine, “Small Is the New Big,” illuminate questions raised by the realities of small church ministry. In them we read eyewitness accounts of the spiritual energy in churches described as “small”—small that is, when the metric applied is a numerical count of members or weekly worship attendance. The articles invite us to... Read more

Making Peace with Peacemaking

Nick Nagy, “Peacemaking in the Middle” Over the winter break, our editorial assistant, Nick Nagy, took a close look at people of his home state, Indiana, and by association the rest of the Midwest, who, especially since the 2016 election, have been characterized as “hopelessly isolationist and dismally Trumpian.” Nick’s lead-off article in our January issue... Read more

Re-Mediation in the D-I-Y Church

Lately I’ve been thinking about a passage from the Gospel of John in which Jesus reminds Peter that our youthful vigor and self-determination will always fade. “Very truly, I tell you” Jesus says, “when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will... Read more

Close to the Gardens of Broken Shadows

Hope on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time close to the gardens of broken shadows we do what the prisoners do and what the jobless do we cultivate hope. from “Under Siege” by Mahmoud Darwish In God’s garden of broken shadows, facing night and cannons of time, we are commanded to “cultivate hope.” How? How do we dare speak of hope... Read more

Protest Journal

I Repent and Atone With My Feet and Hands

Editorial Note: Throughout September, Bearings magazine will explore the theme of “Cultivating Hope.” This month’s contributors are all people of faith who inhabit different geographic, cultural, and social spaces. They thus offer richly diverse perspectives on the following questions: How are you cultivating hope in today’s current political and cultural climate?... Read more

Listening to the Bittersweet Songs of Summer

Sumer is icumen in. Lhude sing cuckoo! Summer has come in—or so the “Cuckoo Song,” also known as the “Summer Canon,” tells me. The piece, which dates to the 13th century, is the oldest known musical composition to feature six-part polyphony. In other words, it was composed as a round that could feature up to six different voices or groups simultaneously singing... Read more
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