Welcome to Leadership for a Bold Church

Until a year ago I resisted developing my own blog. During 14 years as a seminary president there was too little time for the things I needed to do. The last thing I wanted to do was commit to one more assignment that wouldn’t measure up to the standard I set for myself.

Then Kathi McShane asked me to develop a blog for the PSR website, I told her it struck me as a bad idea. I’m away from the PSR community, don’t meddle in its internal affairs and certainly don’t any longer speak for the school.

“That’s ok,” she said, “but a lot of people want to hear from you, not about Pacific School of Religion but about your thinking on issues that face faith communities and theological schools.” She reminded me that the “Leadership Letter” we produced three times a year for PSR donors and friends was very popular and that people are still asking for book recommendations. I know that’s true because people write to me every month or so asking what they should be reading.

So now I am a blogger.

Don’t expect to hear from me every day, but I am committed to trying to produce something a couple of times a week. Currently I’m thinking this might be one longer thought piece plus a couple of shorter entries dealing with events in the news. You won’t find a lot of political commentary here, not because I don’t have opinions but because if anything there is too much political commentary available and I don’t have a lot to add.

Throughout my professional career my world has centered on religion in America, particularly organized religion, with a focus on “mainline” or what some prefer to call “oldline” or “progressive” Christianity. (I know that labels are problematic and will plan to address this issue in the weeks to come.)

And you will hear a lot about books I’m reading and thinking about. I read an average of a book a day and allow myself one novel for every “serious” book I read.

For those who don’t know me all that well (and as a reminder for those who do), I spent 14 years as president of PSR. Earlier I was dean at Hartford Seminary for 11 years and another 11 years national research director for the United Church of Christ’s Board for Homeland Ministries. My academic training was in Sociology of Religion and American Religious History.

I’m an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a member of North Congregational Church in Middleboro, Mass, which is a feisty little church about an hour’s drive from our home in Craigville.

While I’m retired from my presidential role, I’m still doing some teaching and lecturing in the US and abroad. I’ve also taken on a new role as a Senior Consultant with the Center for Progressive Renewal, based in Marietta, GA. (www.progressiverenewal.org) In the past year that work has centered on supporting UCC churches in New Orleans.

Linda and I live on Cape Cod and I work in a small office in the basement of what has been our summer cottage since 1980.


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