Monday, October 19, 2009


Writing poems as I ironed.... Enterprising!
But my daughter panned my verses... most surprising.
We got into a tiff... she said my style was stiff!
So next time I rhyme and iron I'll use less sizing.

From Musings of a Domesticated Male (unpublished), by Hollis Bredeweg

I've long practiced multitasking, for example, giving some of my attention to a menial task while Sally is trying to have a conversation with me. It hasn't always worked out so well for me.

Last night it occurred to me that I have never before been both employed and a blogger simultaneously. Having spent a long day leading two worship services and attending a meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane (UUCS), the twists and turns of the day were fresh in mind as I sat down in front of the computer. After at least 15 to 20 seconds of thought I decided that my work at UUCS will not feature prominently in my posts.

In the mid-1970's I was a student intern at a UCC congregation in Illinois. The church's pastor had established the internship because he needed the help, given the 10% per year growth rate in the congregation. After assuming my duties I learned more about why a UCC church in a small Illinois town might grow so fast.

First of all, the congregation and minister were really delightful. The warm, loving people and their workaholic pastor went together hand in glove. But there are many other warm congregations and workaholic pastors in the UCC. Why was this one growing so rapidly? The answer was to be found in the only other "mainline protestant" church in town, a United Methodist Church. This church had a somewhat rocky history, with several ministers having been removed in response to congregational unhappiness.

The then current Methodist minister, an accomplished guitarist with a twisted sense of humor, began moonlighting as a night club performer. His church members thought that was all pretty spiffy, until a couple families dropped into the nightclub to catch his act. It turned out that his humor drew upon real life stories from his ministry. He especially loved making fun of the matriarch and patriarch of the church who were, of course, closely related to those attending that evening's performance. Note to anyone who ever lives and works in any small town: Everyone is related, and even if they don't like each other, they don't cotton to outsiders making fun of their kin.

Well, the church was outraged, and went to the District Superintendent to demand the pastor's removal. The DS reasoned that, as the church had not liked their previous pastors, and as the current pastor wanted to stay, there was no reason to acquiesce to their request. (Thank you, Captain Barbossa.)

The church was in an uproar, but the minister stayed. Family after family moved their membership across town to the UCC church, and new residents of any "mainline protestant" background quickly surmised that the Methodist church was not the place to be, unless you were interested in hearing how your deepest secrets sounded with guitar accompaniment.

So, given my desire to continue living in this city, and despite my love of a rousing tale, I have decided that any humorous stories emerging from my vocational activities will remain untold. Private matters will remain private. At the very least I'll change the names of the characters.

In all seriousness, you can assume I am working with the UUCS until I write otherwise. This blog isn't going there. I don't want to set off a mass migration of Unitarians to small Illinois towns.

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