Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
I am coming to the end of 9 months of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Last night I gave a final presentation to my peer group on how I viewed the experience. I read a paper which expressed my beliefs concerning Christ, the gospel, and the authority of Scripture as the foundation of my ministerial philosophy. It has been challenging to minister in a pluralistic context. I was one of the few evangelical Christians in the program. Last night my supervisor, a former Roman Catholic priest now married to a United Methodist woman pastor, expressed his appreciation for my presence even though he said most would not agree with many of my beliefs. And that's okay. I learned that even in this context I could be who I am while respectfully disagreeing with others – respect for people while refusing to accept the parity and/or validity of all belief systems.
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Clarifying the ‘Means of Grace’
My schedule hasn't left me much time to write recently. So once more I would like to direct you to my brother John's blog on "Clarifying the Means of Grace."
Ordinary Pastors – Our Decision to Join the Evangelical Free Church
My brother John explains on his blog part of the reasoning that went into the decision for Grace Church of Philly’s two sites to affiliate with the Evangelical Free Church of America. We are looking forward to good fellowship and genuine partnership in seeing God raise up churches in the City of Brotherly Love (or "Shove" as some would have it).
Drug Addiction: Disease or Moral Failure?
My work with drug addicts in a prison setting has allowed me to think and study more about addiction, its causes and its remedies. Daily I have the opportunity to interview and work with scores of men who have been incarcerated due to drug-related criminal activity. One of the questions often asked, both by drug abusers and by family members affected by their abuse and resultant behavioral consequences, is this: Is drug addiction primarily a disease or a result of moral failure and weak will? Or is it both/and? It seems to me that the science of addiction clearly favors the former as seen in this common definition. "Addiction is a primary, chronic illness with genetic factors that influence it and it is also progressive and fatal."
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Grace Church of Philly – North Philly Replant Update
God has been gracious at the replant of Grace Church - Feltonville which began two months ago. This church is in the neighborhood where my I grew up in North Philly and where I became a Christian in 1973. As you will see in this music video from last Sunday the Lord is bringing together people to worship. The diversity is encouraging and representative of the community. Almost every week we are seeing guests and are asking God to establish the church for His glory and send co-laborers into the city. We would ask you to pray that God would provide a church planting pastor to move into that neighborhood to provide leadership for the church in His time.
First Members at Grace Church Philly
Last night, after one and a half years of gathering for worship, Grace Church welcomed its first members. About twenty people affirmed vows concerning their beliefs and commitments. Others, who were absent or due to an absent spouse, will be welcomed next week. Urban church planting is slow work. Some may find it surprising that it would take so long to constitute church membership. But we were in no rush to have members simply to have names on a list and apart from the original leadership team we did not have a core group to start the church. In fact our original leadership team no longer exists. That’s a story in itself.
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One Night in the Trauma Bay
No, not as a patient but as a chaplain. One night a month I am on-call where I stay at the hospital from 4:30 pm until 8:30 the next morning. In addition to carrying a pager which nurses call when there are patient or family requests for a chaplain (usually end of life issues), I have a beeper which alerts me with the ETA at the level one trauma bay and brief details of the patient/victim/.
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Grace Church Replant
On Sunday we witnessed the birth of Grace Church – Feltonville with about 50 people in attendance. This is the second site of Grace Church of Philly. The first church, Grace Church – University City, began last year March 2010 and is still a church in formation in many ways. We rejoice in what God is doing in Philadelphia and continue to make appeals for co-laborers in the harvest.
Ex-Con Now Converted & Baptized
This past Sunday night Grace Church baptized three men – a university professor with a PhD, a Vietnam veteran, and an ex-con recently released from prison. My brother John baptized the first two men. I had the opportunity to baptize the third man, Billy, who I met in prison as his counselor. Billy was probably the last man I would've expected to come to Christ. He was one of my guys for several months in prison and had to meet with me for one-on-one therapy sessions and attend weekly group therapy. Billy was great at trying to avoid me and was not one of my more compliant men.
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Is There a Doctor in the House?
A recent internet article degenerated when one of the posters called a well-known and much loved professor by his first name. Some who know the professor personally took offense that someone would have the audacity to call an esteemed professor by his first name. Really, has it come to this? I do not know the professor in question well although I have met him on several occasions and always called him Dr. ___ out of respect. I’m not sure the professor himself really cares that much what people call him. more
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