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A Thanksgiving Prayer by Walter Brueggemann 

At Thanks Giving

Amid football, family and too much food, we pause quickly and without inconvenience

to remember and to thank.

We remember ancient pilgrims

who followed dreams of alabaster cities and financial opportunity;

We remember hospitable first nation people

who welcomed them, and then lost their land;

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Church Leadership Inspiration St Paul's UMC United Methodists

My Address to St. Paul’s UMC, Church Conference 2015

Every year, each United Methodist Church conducts a Charge Conference or Church Conference to go over some business of the church. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream about the future. Instead of having every committee share what they’ve done this year, they asked me to summarize the work of the church and share it at our Church Conference. This is what I said:

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Christian Culture Church Leadership Churches news

Questioning NNU’s President, Part 3: The Vote of No Confidence

Photo by Brandon Hill Photography
Photo by Brandon Hill Photography

NNU’s President, David Alexander, is stuck. His actions, resulting in the firing of tenured theology professor, Tom Oord, have drawn attention from all corners of the the Christian academic community and the Church of the Nazarene. You can read my summary of the situation here. It is my personal belief, that the actions Alexander has taken in recent years discredits his reasons for Oord’s termination now. To demonstrate this belief, I have been writing this 3 part series on Questioning NNU’s President. You can read Part 1 and Part 2.

I was going to write a part 3 today. I was going to detail a faculty meeting with Alexander, where the faculty offered to forgo their raises ($400k) in order to abjure any layoffs (the means for the $400k). I was going to write how Alexander refused to accept the faculty’s plea, citing that no raises and no layoffs were a short-term solution.

I was going to write about that at length. But then something happened yesterday.

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Christian Culture Church Leadership Justice news Theology

Questioning NNU’s President, Part 2: The Capital Education Marketing Failure

Photo by Brandon Hill Photography
Thomas Jay Oord, photo by Brandon Hill Photography

Northwest Nazarene University is in a bit of an upheaval following the announcement of Dr. Tom Oord’s layoff, a tenured and senior theology professor. Oord’s layoff has raised many questions about NNU President David Alexander’s decisions and actions, not only in the recent weeks, but throughout his 7 year presidency at NNU. Decisions about layoffs, reorganization of department staff/faculty, and recruitment strategies have been described as “dictator” like. Alexander has ignored advisement and faculty voice in many of these decisions (the topic of part 3). In this part 2 of a series I’m calling “Questioning NNU’s President,” I hope to shed some light on one particular decision that negatively affected several graduate programs at NNU: handing marketing of graduate programs to Capital Education–a service provider to online educational programs. 

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Christian Culture Church Leadership

Questioning NNU’s President, Part 1: The Graduate Counseling Ed Program

Photo by Brandon Hill Photography
Photo by Brandon Hill Photography

In my last post, I summarized the events surrounding Dr. Tom Oord’s termination at Northwest Nazarene University. I also described the broken trust between the campus community and NNU president, David Alexander.

Over the next three blog posts, I want to ask deeper questions about Alexander’s actions that lead up to the dismissal of Tom Oord. I also want to mention details that I believe every prospective student, declined applicant, pastor, parent, student, staff, and faculty member should know.

I’m calling these posts “Questioning NNU’s President.”

Part 1: The Graduate Counseling Ed Program

Part 2: The Capital Education Marketing Failure

Part 3: The Faculty Request for Collaborative Governance

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Christian Culture Church Leadership Theology

Why is Tom Oord getting fired?

Photo by Brandon Hill Photography
Photo by Brandon Hill Photography

Look, I have no idea why my former systematics professor is getting fired. 

Apparently, Dr. Tom Oord received an email from Northwest Nazarene University’s administration during vacation/holy week, notifying him that he’s out of a job come the end of the semester. On Maundy Thursday, I received an invite to a Facebook group that was sharing information and support for Oord. In one week, over a thousand people joined that group, people have given over $1500 to support Oord, college students have organized protests marked by hash tags and redshirts, wikipedia pages have been developed, fact sheets have been disseminated, the administration has emailed pastors in hopes of clearing things up, and a Q & A session has been set up for students on campus.

But still, no one knows why Oord is being canned. 

Well, I guess someone knows, but none of us do.
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Church Leadership Churches Inspiration

What Happened This Weekend

         Well, my daughter got her first hair cut, the Patriots won the Superbowl, oh yeah, and TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE READ MY STORY OF LEAVING THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE.

         Let me just say that having your story read by thousands of people you don’t know is nerve racking. At a certain point, you have no control of what people will do with you. Most people sent words of care and comfort. Some have shared their stories of staying or leaving. Some have questioned my story. A few have questioned my motives. As the number of views and comments grew, I prepared myself for some negative comments. But, you know, it’s still nerve racking.

I want to quickly say a few things and then share something that happened because of that post. read more »

Christian Culture Church Leadership Churches Life

Why I Left the Church of the Nazarene

          Thank you everyone for reading and sharing my story. The reach and response have been absolutely overwhelming! Thank you for all your comments on this page, on Facebook, and through private messages. I read all of them, though I may not be able to respond to all of them. Thank you again. I have also made one correction below: the church that I served and worshipped at while I was in college was an Evangelical Methodist Church, not a Free Methodist Church as I had thought. 
____________________

          About 5 years ago, I left the denomination that introduced me to Jesus. I didn’t walk out of the Church of the Nazarene with fanfare, fireworks or middle fingers. My relationship with the CotN had more of a soft closing. But I did leave. I let my credentials lapse.  I’m currently serving, preaching, and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. When I first left the CotN, I got emails left and right from different pastors and friends wanting to know if it was true that I left, why I left, and if I’ll consider staying. Eventually, those kind of emails stopped. Now, I get emails from young Nazarene ministers asking me why I left, if they should leave, where they could go, and how to leave gracefully. I haven’t been shy about this conversation in person, but I haven’t Facebooked or said anything publicly about leaving the CotN, mostly because I love the CotN and I don’t want to hurt my friends there or somehow appear bitter. But I think it’s time I shared my story because I am entirely uncomfortable caring for so many ministry hopefuls who feel like they can’t serve in a church they love.

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Church Leadership Churches Inspiration St Paul's UMC United Methodists

My Address to St. Paul’s at Church Conference

Every year, each United Methodist Church conducts a Charge Conference or Church Conference to go over some business of the church. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream about the future. Instead of having every committee share what they’ve done this year, they asked me to summarize the work of the church and share it at our Church Conference. This is what I said:

I’ve been the pastor here at St. Paul’s for just over 16 months, and a lot of things have changed over those months. 

When we arrived to St. Paul’s in July of last year, our daughter Clementine was only 6 months old. She couldn’t say a word. She wasn’t crawling yet. We were still combing her hair in ways to hide her bald spots. Today, Clementine is different, and that’s a good thing. She has a favorite song, a favorite color, she goes down slides by herself, and this week she formulate her first sentence all on her own. She said, “I see snow.”

Before coming to St. Paul’s, I had no experience in being a lead pastor. I had been a youth pastor for 8 years. If you’re doing the math, that means some crazy pastor hired me, to be a youth pastor when I was only 20 years old. Before coming to St. Paul’s, I was only used to preaching at most, once a month. I had only ever done 2 memorial services, and one of them was for a gathering of 3 people. Today, I am different, and that’s a good thing. In my first year at St. Paul’s, I’ve performed 5 memorial services. I’ve formed sermons and sermon series that I pray God has used to inspire, move, and direct you to our loving Christ. I’ve held hands with people as we’ve listened to last breaths of their loved ones. I’m changed by St. Paul’s, and that’s a good thing. 

Today, St. Paul’s is different, too, and that’s a good thing. read more »

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A Break Up Note: With Certainty

You just think about what you've done, Certainty.
You just think about what you’ve done, Certainty.

Dear Certainty,

Sorry to do it this way, but it’s over.

     We had our time, and it was good. You really strengthened me over the years. You gave me courage to say and do some pretty awesome things. Because of you, I–more or less–stayed out of trouble when I was young. You helped me in college, and that was nice. Because of you, I was never really unsure of where to go with my life. I really need to thank you for that.

     But let’s be honest, Certainty, you’ve gotten me into a number of fights, too. read more »