Category Archives: Social Media

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church could be like THIS

So I’m back in the U.K. and heading to Leeds – WHY? I hear you ask – well for one simple reason to visit Harehills Lane Baptist Church – WHERE? I hear you say – Harehills Lane Baptist Church in Leeds, the church where Graeme Dodds is a minister – WHO? you might say – this guy…

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He preached at our church a couple of years ago and many people (including me) said it was one of the best sermons they had ever heard!

Anyway, I went to Harehills Lane Baptist Church – and I have to say that church should (or could) be like this!

I walked in and the first thing that hit me was the welcome I got – the guy at the door seemed genuinely pleased I was there. He explained a little about the service, asked me where I was from and was really nice.

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I sat down and everyone who came in (I mean everyone) said hello and as it filled people came over to talk and introduce themselves. Graeme came out and sat with me throughout the service, which was brilliant and was all about everything I had been to America to see.

The theme was traction – the idea of the ‘rubber hitting the road’. It emphasised everything I had hoped about the trip – the idea that doing is a vital part of believing. All that stuff in the book of James that faith without works is dead etc, etc. One thing, said almost in passing, struck a huge chord with me – “Pastoral work is important and it can be just a word, a phone call, a text or a facebook message.” God was speaking to me in that service – he really was.

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The community of Harehills Lane is amazing – we sang happy birthday to a lady in her 90’s, I talked to a Ugandan asylum seeker and a northern biker, we moved furniture and ate cakes – it was a brilliant morning.

After the service (which was superb and, as usual, I won’t go too far into detail because I want to use some of the stuff – especially the music)  there was a lunch that could easily compare to anything the Melbourne Welsh Church would put on. People freely mixed and chatted it, was like being in at home on any Sunday morning. It felt great.

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Another wonderful surprise was that Harehills Lane had a group going to Greenbelt and I was invited to join their number, I didn’t realise at the time what an amazing blessing that would turn out to be.

As with almost everything else I’ve seen on this trip so far it’s the little things, the simple things that make this church so special. Community is at the foundation of everything – you build the rest of the church on that. Harehills has got it right – their community is a warm, welcoming and worshipping one – it was a pleasure to share time with them. Thank you all.

After a bit of news from my folks the look of my week changed a bit – things were re-arranged. I missed visiting Zac’s Place in Swansea and I missed seeing John and Gail Rees but I was on my way back to Greenbelt after a gap of 16 years and I was excited!!!


  • 0

church could be like THIS

So I’m back in the U.K. and heading to Leeds – WHY? I hear you ask – well for one simple reason to visit Harehills Lane Baptist Church – WHERE? I hear you say – Harehills Lane Baptist Church in Leeds, the church where Graeme Dodds is a minister – WHO? you might say – this guy…

He preached at our church a couple of years ago and many people (including me) said it was one of the best sermons they had ever heard!

Anyway, I went to Harehills Lane Baptist Church – and I have to say that church should (or could) be like this!

 

I walked in and the first thing that hit me was the welcome I got – the guy at the door seemed genuinely pleased I was there. He explained a little about the service, asked me where I was from and was really nice.

 

I sat down and everyone who came in (I mean everyone) said hello and as it filled people came over to talk and introduce themselves. Graeme came out and sat with me throughout the service, which was brilliant and was all about everything I had been to America to see.

The theme was traction – the idea of the ‘rubber hitting the road’. It emphasised everything I had hoped about the trip – the idea that doing is a vital part of believing. All that stuff in the book of James that faith without works is dead etc, etc. One thing, said almost in passing, struck a huge chord with me – “Pastoral work is important and it can be just a word, a phone call, a text or a facebook message.” God was speaking to me in that service – he really was.

 

The community of Harehills Lane is amazing – we sang happy birthday to a lady in her 90’s, I talked to a Ugandan asylum seeker and a northern biker, we moved furniture and ate cakes – it was a brilliant morning.

After the service (which was superb and, as usual, I won’t go too far into detail because I want to use some of the stuff – especially the music)  there was a lunch that could easily compare to anything the Melbourne Welsh Church would put on. People freely mixed and chatted it, was like being in at home on any Sunday morning. It felt great.

 

Another wonderful surprise was that Harehills Lane had a group going to Greenbelt and I was invited to join their number, I didn’t realise at the time what an amazing blessing that would turn out to be.

As with almost everything else I’ve seen on this trip so far it’s the little things, the simple things that make this church so special. Community is at the foundation of everything – you build the rest of the church on that. Harehills has got it right – their community is a warm, welcoming and worshipping one – it was a pleasure to share time with them. Thank you all.

 

After a bit of news from my folks the look of my week changed a bit – things were re-arranged. I missed visiting Zac’s Place in Swansea and I missed seeing John and Gail Rees but I was on my way back to Greenbelt after a gap of 16 years and I was excited!!!

 


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church should come with COFFEE

So it is almost time to leave B’more and the U.S. but before I leave there is one last thing to do – another Bible Study. (Anyone would think I was religious!)IMG_0506

At some unearthly hour of the morning the minds behind #BreakingBread hold a Bible study in a coffee shop. It only seems fitting to finish this part of the trip the way it started weeks ago in Denver- talking God over coffee and breakfast.

I will be honest and admit that I was a little late mainly because I was staying over the other side of the city and it took longer than I had planned to get there. Still when I arrived the coffee was still hot (or in my case the OJ was still cool) and the discussion was well under way. Rev Jenn was there and I got to meet Rev Jason too, who was leading the study that morning. The team of J, J and S are amazing and so talented. In the short time I was with them I felt that God has looked on the people of their part of B’more and blessed them hugely! Keep up the great work.

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As with most things on this trip it was a simple set up (that’s not saying the discussion wasn’t in-depth, it was). A table, a few chairs and a Bible and off we went. The more I see of how other churches do stuff the more guilty I feel for making things far too complicated.

Again I was welcomed and made to feel at home, again I sat and listened and learnt as normal people (like me and you, except with weirder accents) unravelled parts of the Bible in ways I had never thought of. Again I had a ball and even though I arrived a little behind time I didn’t feel left out and I gained a lot.

If you have been to our Wednesday morning Bible group or our Monday evening Bible group – it wasn’t dissimilar to those, except they stuck to the topic whereas we never do!

Did I mention it rained while I was in Baltimore…

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As I draw to the end of the American leg of my adventure I sit here wondering if it was all worth it. I can, without any hesitation, say it most certainly was. I have met some wonderful people, done some amazing things, learnt some fantastic new skills and absorbed a head full of new knowledge.

To everyone I have met in Denver and Texas, in Washington and Baltimore a huge thank you – don’t think you’ve got rid of me that easily though… I want to come back – there is so much more for me to learn.

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Onwards to the U.K. and the prospect of bikers and tents. It will be another interesting time!!!


  • 0

church should come with COFFEE

So it is almost time to leave B’more and the U.S. but before I leave there is one last thing to do – another Bible Study. (Anyone would think I was religious!)

At some unearthly hour of the morning the minds behind #BreakingBread hold a Bible study in a coffee shop. It only seems fitting to finish this part of the trip the way it started weeks ago in Denver- talking God over coffee and breakfast.

I will be honest and admit that I was a little late mainly because I was staying over the other side of the city and it took longer than I had planned to get there. Still when I arrived the coffee was still hot (or in my case the OJ was still cool) and the discussion was well under way. Rev Jenn was there and I got to meet Rev Jason too, who was leading the study that morning. The team of J, J and S are amazing and so talented. In the short time I was with them I felt that God has looked on the people of their part of B’more and blessed them hugely! Keep up the great work.

 

As with most things on this trip it was a simple set up (that’s not saying the discussion wasn’t in-depth, it was). A table, a few chairs and a Bible and off we went. The more I see of how other churches do stuff the more guilty I feel for making things far too complicated.

Again I was welcomed and made to feel at home, again I sat and listened and learnt as normal people (like me and you, except with weirder accents) unravelled parts of the Bible in ways I had never thought of. Again I had a ball and even though I arrived a little behind time I didn’t feel left out and I gained a lot.

If you have been to our Wednesday morning Bible group or our Monday evening Bible group – it wasn’t dissimilar to those, except they stuck to the topic whereas we never do!

Did I mention it rained while I was in Baltimore…

 

As I draw to the end of the American leg of my adventure I sit here wondering if it was all worth it. I can, without any hesitation, say it most certainly was. I have met some wonderful people, done some amazing things, learnt some fantastic new skills and absorbed a head full of new knowledge.

To everyone I have met in Denver and Texas, in Washington and Baltimore a huge thank you – don’t think you’ve got rid of me that easily though… I want to come back – there is so much more for me to learn.

 

Onwards to the U.K. and the prospect of bikers and tents. It will be another interesting time!!!


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church should be ONLINE

At the outset I wish to pour out extravagant praise for my wonderful host Meredith Gould. Her sacrifice of time, spirit and knowledge was above and beyond generous and I cannot thank her enough. Meredith you are a blessing to so many; an angel with a Doctorate; the Queen of Twitter and the fairy godmother of #chsocm (and you’re not scary at all IRL).

 

Enough of that – this is what happened when I went to meet the wizard…

After #BreakingBread broke up I awaited my host. It was like standing in line at a big concert – waiting for your heroes to take the stage – I felt like a little kid waiting for a chance to meet Santa – I was about to meet the great Meredith Gould. I’d got to Oz and the wizard was coming!!

Every car that went past, was it her? Every helicopter that went over, was that her? Eventually the moment came, a fleet of cars with flashing blue lights pulled up and in a crowd of groupies and hangers on I glimpsed her; the security detail arrived; my ID was checked; I was about to meet….

Actually it didn’t happen like that – a little car pulled up and out jumped Meredith with a huge, welcoming smile on her face. I didn’t know what I expected, but just like Harry Potter’s exam results, Meredith exceeds expectations. Bright, warm, vibrant and amazingly down to earth (for a guru) she is brilliant!!!

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That evening and the whole of the next day passed in a storm of talk, laughter, fun and learning (well for me it did – for Meredith it must have been a tirade of inane questions, daft comments, and patient teaching). We went through everything church media related- the website, the blog, the Facebook and Twitter pages, Instagram and Pinterest – content, design, layout, colours. Meredith’s expertise and knowledge were as freely given as her smiles and humour.

I’ve been into the inner sanctum, I’ve even touched her computer, I’ve walked the yellow brick road and I’ve seen behind the wizard’s curtain and it is more magical and amazing than Oz could ever be – but it’s not the set up that makes it so great, as with everything on this trip, it’s the person.

All joking and hyperbole aside – all I can say is thank you Meredith, I hope I can do justice to all you taught me.

 

Before I left for this trip I was asked the question “Is being online and active in Social Media a real part of the ministry of the church?”

I didn’t answer it then, but I think I can now:  “In this digital age it is practically impossible to have a church ministry without being online.” Online ministry through social media is not, and I don’t think it ever will be, the whole work of the church but it will now never not be an important part. And thanks to David and Meredith and members of the fantastic #chsocm (church and social media) community I now feel better equipped to keep venturing out into the modern digital world with the Gospel message that is as relevant now as it was 2,000 years ago.


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church should be ONLINE

At the outset I wish to pour out extravagant praise for my wonderful host Meredith Gould. Her sacrifice of time, spirit and knowledge was above and beyond generous and I cannot thank her enough. Meredith you are a blessing to so many; an angel with a Doctorate; the Queen of Twitter and the fairy godmother of #chsocm (and you’re not scary at all IRL).

 

Enough of that – this is what happened when I went to meet the wizard…

After #BreakingBread broke up I awaited my host. It was like standing in line at a big concert – waiting for your heroes to take the stage – I felt like a little kid waiting for a chance to meet Santa – I was about to meet the great Meredith Gould. I’d got to Oz and the wizard was coming!!

Every car that went past, was it her? Every helicopter that went over, was that her? Eventually the moment came, a fleet of cars with flashing blue lights pulled up and in a crowd of groupies and hangers on I glimpsed her; the security detail arrived; my ID was checked; I was about to meet….

Actually it didn’t happen like that – a little car pulled up and out jumped Meredith with a huge, welcoming smile on her face. I didn’t know what I expected, but just like Harry Potter’s exam results, Meredith exceeds expectations. Bright, warm, vibrant and amazingly down to earth (for a guru) she is brilliant!!!

 

That evening and the whole of the next day passed in a storm of talk, laughter, fun and learning (well for me it did – for Meredith it must have been a tirade of inane questions, daft comments, and patient teaching). We went through everything church media related- the website, the blog, the Facebook and Twitter pages, Instagram and Pinterest – content, design, layout, colours. Meredith’s expertise and knowledge were as freely given as her smiles and humour.

I’ve been into the inner sanctum, I’ve even touched her computer, I’ve walked the yellow brick road and I’ve seen behind the wizard’s curtain and it is more magical and amazing than Oz could ever be – but it’s not the set up that makes it so great, as with everything on this trip, it’s the person.

All joking and hyperbole aside – all I can say is thank you Meredith, I hope I can do justice to all you taught me.

 

Before I left for this trip I was asked the question “Is being online and active in Social Media a real part of the ministry of the church?”

I didn’t answer it then, but I think I can now:  “In this digital age it is practically impossible to have a church ministry without being online.” Online ministry through social media is not, and I don’t think it ever will be, the whole work of the church but it will now never not be an important part. And thanks to David and Meredith and members of the fantastic #chsocm (church and social media) community I now feel better equipped to keep venturing out into the modern digital world with the Gospel message that is as relevant now as it was 2,000 years ago.


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church isn’t a DENOMINATION

Baltimore – where the “Star Spangled Banner” was written is a nice place. That’s about as effusive I wish to be about this small but strangely charming city.

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Again though, like Denver and certain parts of Houston, it’s the people that make the place special and I mean extra special.

Wandering the centre city of Baltimore took me a few minutes and after talking to a very nice police man (in a fast pursuit vehicle, all the criminals must be overweight) I made my way towards the meet up point for my lift to #BreakingBread. Thank you Julie, I would never have found it on my own!

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So three ministers walked into a church, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian. And that’s not a joke – Jenn, Sara and Jason run Breaking Bread. I don’t know the history or who did what with whom but Breaking Bread is another one of those simple church ideas that are just outstandingly wonderful. It’s not rocket science to do this sort if thing but wow it is very powerful, and those of us who haven’t thought of it before go, “I wish I’d thought of that!” IMG_0464

All it is (and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting it down, I’m not I’m raising it as high as I can and jumping up and down shouting “WE ALL SHOULD DO THIS…”) all it is, in essence, is a simple service, a simple meal and and a simple Bible study. #BreakingBread’s brilliance comes from two things – the atmosphere and the people.

I may not have the order of the next bit quite right but you’ll get the general idea.

The night I went Rev Jason wasn’t there and Rev Jenn was leading and Rev Sara was in charge of the food. You kind of just walk in and do stuff. I was ordered (nicely) to help lay the tables – cutlery and candles were what I did, and they look great.

IMG_0462Being the summer holidays they weren’t expecting a full house only about 20 (I’d love a Bible Study of about 20). Four tables were set up, some food was prepared (mainly asparagus, THE vegetable of Breaking Bread) and things began. It started with a simple service of singing and prayers and a very simple (but amazingly profound) Communion service in which we all stood and served each other the bread. It was a very moving experience and God was there, in the eyes of the homeless guy across the circle from me, in the smile of the person handing me the bread. It was another Holy experience in a borrowed church hall. IMG_0467

The wine was shared around our tables and the act of moving from one place to another between the elements was great. It made me feel like what we were doing was communal (all in the circle together) and yet also individual as we drank from our own cups in our places by the table. Again very simple ideas brilliantly done.

After the service (which was maybe 10 minutes) we went for the food like ravenous beasts, sharing talk and laughs at the various tables. This wasn’t rushed and there was a feeling of community there – hard to describe but there was a ‘freeness’ to the proceedings that can only come from everyone wanting the same outcome. I’m sure that doesn’t do it justice but it’s hard to describe.

After seconds Jenn (the Presbyterian (yay for John Calvin)) led us in a Bible study that I will not describe here as I intend to use the idea at our church (she’ll never know!!). Once again the way it was done was simple yet the content was very thought provoking and the discussions at our table was deep and serious.

It was a wonderful night (everyone helped with the clearing up as well) in which a stranger from a long way away was made to feel very much part of a worshipping community. He was offered food and spiritual comfort, companionship and conversation, teaching and love. It was all very New Testament, early church, true Christian Community in action stuff and I loved it. I’d go every week if I didn’t live 8,500 miles away.

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Thank you to the Breaking Bread team, you are the real presence of God at work!!

 


  • 0

church isn’t a DENOMINATION

Baltimore – where the “Star Spangled Banner” was written is a nice place. That’s about as effusive I wish to be about this small but strangely charming city.

 

Again though, like Denver and certain parts of Houston, it’s the people that make the place special and I mean extra special.

Wandering the centre city of Baltimore took me a few minutes and after talking to a very nice police man (in a fast pursuit vehicle, all the criminals must be overweight) I made my way towards the meet up point for my lift to #BreakingBread. Thank you Julie, I would never have found it on my own!

 

So three ministers walked into a church, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian. And that’s not a joke – Jenn, Sara and Jason run Breaking Bread. I don’t know the history or who did what with whom but Breaking Bread is another one of those simple church ideas that are just outstandingly wonderful. It’s not rocket science to do this sort if thing but wow it is very powerful, and those of us who haven’t thought of it before go, “I wish I’d thought of that!”

All it is (and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting it down, I’m not I’m raising it as high as I can and jumping up and down shouting “WE ALL SHOULD DO THIS…”) all it is, in essence, is a simple service, a simple meal and and a simple Bible study. #BreakingBread’s brilliance comes from two things – the atmosphere and the people.

I may not have the order of the next bit quite right but you’ll get the general idea.

The night I went Rev Jason wasn’t there and Rev Jenn was leading and Rev Sara was in charge of the food. You kind of just walk in and do stuff. I was ordered (nicely) to help lay the tables – cutlery and candles were what I did, and they look great.

Being the summer holidays they weren’t expecting a full house only about 20 (I’d love a Bible Study of about 20). Four tables were set up, some food was prepared (mainly asparagus, THE vegetable of Breaking Bread) and things began. It started with a simple service of singing and prayers and a very simple (but amazingly profound) Communion service in which we all stood and served each other the bread. It was a very moving experience and God was there, in the eyes of the homeless guy across the circle from me, in the smile of the person handing me the bread. It was another Holy experience in a borrowed church hall.

The wine was shared around our tables and the act of moving from one place to another between the elements was great. It made me feel like what we were doing was communal (all in the circle together) and yet also individual as we drank from our own cups in our places by the table. Again very simple ideas brilliantly done.

After the service (which was maybe 10 minutes) we went for the food like ravenous beasts, sharing talk and laughs at the various tables. This wasn’t rushed and there was a feeling of community there – hard to describe but there was a ‘freeness’ to the proceedings that can only come from everyone wanting the same outcome. I’m sure that doesn’t do it justice but it’s hard to describe.

After seconds Jenn (the Presbyterian (yay for John Calvin)) led us in a Bible study that I will not describe here as I intend to use the idea at our church (she’ll never know!!). Once again the way it was done was simple yet the content was very thought provoking and the discussions at our table was deep and serious.

It was a wonderful night (everyone helped with the clearing up as well) in which a stranger from a long way away was made to feel very much part of a worshipping community. He was offered food and spiritual comfort, companionship and conversation, teaching and love. It was all very New Testament, early church, true Christian Community in action stuff and I loved it. I’d go every week if I didn’t live 8,500 miles away.

 

Thank you to the Breaking Bread team, you are the real presence of God at work!!

 


  • 0

churches should be ARMED!

(with the sound suppressed, semi-automatic pistol of the Spirit. Yours for under $2,000)

 

I will draw my Texas blog to a close – in its own way Texas was as brilliant as Denver. Where Denver was hands on, feet dirty, get in there and do it Texas was very different. And I expected it to be.

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I went there to learn social media stuff and wow did I have a brilliant teacher – Pastor David Hansen (as well as being an amazing pastoral minister (you should see the way the people in the church love him), an amazing host (with his lovely wife Megan), a very handsome man (have you seen the pictures? he reminds me of a movie star or at least someone I know I’ve seen before) – on top of all that he is also a social media guru.

A lot of my Texas time was taken up sitting in front of computers doing ‘stuff’. Twitter and Facebook are no longer mysteries to me – podcasting, pfft I can do it in my sleep now – and twitter chats – I’ve seen how the best moderates them (from an armchair, with a beer!).

But being a geek wasn’t all I did. There are just one or two little experiences I want to share before I move on –

 

Lunch with Bishop Mike –

 

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The ELCA (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has bishops. I had lunch with one and his family. I would just like to say thank you to Bishop Mike for taking time out of his sabbatical to come and eat TexMex with me. We had a great chat and to hear of the work and how the ELCA orders things makes our Gymanfa look very small. (I know it is but this reminded me of how small.) Bishop Mike has been quite outspoken on the situation in Gaza and we had a great discussion about balancing personal and professional social media posts. I learnt a lot (and not just how to load a taco). Thank you.

Another visit to a Christian book barn.

WOW – these places scare me – piousness and poison under the same roof. A man cannot serve two masters – its either God or money well in this place God was served a lot – every transaction was something about God but he was not the master there, this was a Christian money printing factory. I might be wrong but isn’t “Clean hands and a pure heart” hand sanitiser going a bit far?? What about “the spark plugs Jesus would use”?

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Some of the books would be funny if they weren’t serious titles – “God and Guns” was probably my favourite but there were plenty of others.

Bad breath? Jesus mints will drive out the demons of halitosis.

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God bless my gun cabinet.

A prayer to God for peace, for America and for the Marine Corps.

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It was endless – I was glad when we left and went to the gun store!

 

I had heard a lot about the gun culture in the States – the right to bear arms (but not to arm bears – it would be fairer if they did). I was intrigued to see it for myself and where better than the local, family run, gun shoppe.

 

If the Christian book store was bad I don’t know what this was. It was a temple to gun metal, and it was a very scary temple.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time around firearms, I know what they can do and I think I can use one safely. This place wasn’t a gun store though, it was an arsenal. You can get pink shotguns for your little girl; semi-automatic rifles to go ‘hunting’ with; as much ammo as you could carry; shoulder holsters; ankle holsters; gun vests; cartridge making machines – everything the wanna be gun nut could want; but the worse thing (or the best thing, depending on your point of view) was the pistol with military grade suppressor (silencer).

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Why would you ever need one? I cannot think of a legal situation that would require a pistol with a silencer. I can sort of see why you would need a semi-automatic rifle with sub-sonic, hollow point bullets – if a huge bear was running at me, all teeth and claws and menace I’d probably be glad of one, (I still think they should arm the bears to make the fight fairer though) but a silenced semi-automatic pistol.

WHY?

Not for personal protection – I’d want every criminal to know I had a gun so I wouldn’t silence it. Not for hunting – its useless as a hunting pistol and still makes enough noise to scare off any game. Not at the local gun club – you all wear ear protectors. I cannot for the life of me see why.

 

I fell in love with parts of America and with parts of the American church but there are certain things that make me glad I’m coming home to Oz – and military grade, noise suppressed, semi-automatic pistols for under $2,000 is one of them. Makes me shudder to think of it.

 

I was sad to leave the Lone Star State. I made good friends there, I saw how two wonderful churches (Spirit of Joy! (don’t leave out the exclamation mark) and Grace Lutheran) and how two truly wonderful pastors work, I met loads of wonderful people of God who are doing amazing work in his name, even a couple of decent presbyterians. But Texas really is another America though – a wild, weird and wonderful place full of strange people, spaceships, gun shops and Jeezus.

 

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Onward to Baltimore…..

 

Category : Community , News , rant , SM , Social Media , The Trip , US , Welcome


  • 0

churches should be ARMED!

(with the sound suppressed, semi-automatic pistol of the Spirit. Yours for under $2,000)

 

I will draw my Texas blog to a close – in its own way Texas was as brilliant as Denver. Where Denver was hands on, feet dirty, get in there and do it Texas was very different. And I expected it to be.

 

I went there to learn social media stuff and wow did I have a brilliant teacher – Pastor David Hansen (as well as being an amazing pastoral minister (you should see the way the people in the church love him), an amazing host (with his lovely wife Megan), a very handsome man (have you seen the pictures? he reminds me of a movie star or at least someone I know I’ve seen before) – on top of all that he is also a social media guru.

A lot of my Texas time was taken up sitting in front of computers doing ‘stuff’. Twitter and Facebook are no longer mysteries to me – podcasting, pfft I can do it in my sleep now – and twitter chats – I’ve seen how the best moderates them (from an armchair, with a beer!).

But being a geek wasn’t all I did. There are just one or two little experiences I want to share before I move on –

 

Lunch with Bishop Mike –

The ELCA (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has bishops. I had lunch with one and his family. I would just like to say thank you to Bishop Mike for taking time out of his sabbatical to come and eat TexMex with me. We had a great chat and to hear of the work and how the ELCA orders things makes our Gymanfa look very small. (I know it is but this reminded me of how small.) Bishop Mike has been quite outspoken on the situation in Gaza and we had a great discussion about balancing personal and professional social media posts. I learnt a lot (and not just how to load a taco). Thank you.

Another visit to a Christian book barn.

WOW – these places scare me – piousness and poison under the same roof. A man cannot serve two masters – its either God or money well in this place God was served a lot – every transaction was something about God but he was not the master there, this was a Christian money printing factory. I might be wrong but isn’t “Clean hands and a pure heart” hand sanitiser going a bit far?? What about “the spark plugs Jesus would use”?

 

Some of the books would be funny if they weren’t serious titles – “God and Guns” was probably my favourite but there were plenty of others.

Bad breath? Jesus mints will drive out the demons of halitosis.

 

God bless my gun cabinet.

A prayer to God for peace, for America and for the Marine Corps.

 

It was endless – I was glad when we left and went to the gun store!

 

I had heard a lot about the gun culture in the States – the right to bear arms (but not to arm bears – it would be fairer if they did). I was intrigued to see it for myself and where better than the local, family run, gun shoppe.

 

If the Christian book store was bad I don’t know what this was. It was a temple to gun metal, and it was a very scary temple.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time around firearms, I know what they can do and I think I can use one safely. This place wasn’t a gun store though, it was an arsenal. You can get pink shotguns for your little girl; semi-automatic rifles to go ‘hunting’ with; as much ammo as you could carry; shoulder holsters; ankle holsters; gun vests; cartridge making machines – everything the wanna be gun nut could want; but the worse thing (or the best thing, depending on your point of view) was the pistol with military grade suppressor (silencer).

 

Why would you ever need one? I cannot think of a legal situation that would require a pistol with a silencer. I can sort of see why you would need a semi-automatic rifle with sub-sonic, hollow point bullets – if a huge bear was running at me, all teeth and claws and menace I’d probably be glad of one, (I still think they should arm the bears to make the fight fairer though) but a silenced semi-automatic pistol.

WHY?

Not for personal protection – I’d want every criminal to know I had a gun so I wouldn’t silence it. Not for hunting – its useless as a hunting pistol and still makes enough noise to scare off any game. Not at the local gun club – you all wear ear protectors. I cannot for the life of me see why.

 

I fell in love with parts of America and with parts of the American church but there are certain things that make me glad I’m coming home to Oz – and military grade, noise suppressed, semi-automatic pistols for under $2,000 is one of them. Makes me shudder to think of it.

 

I was sad to leave the Lone Star State. I made good friends there, I saw how two wonderful churches (Spirit of Joy! (don’t leave out the exclamation mark) and Grace Lutheran) and how two truly wonderful pastors work, I met loads of wonderful people of God who are doing amazing work in his name, even a couple of decent presbyterians. But Texas really is another America though – a wild, weird and wonderful place full of strange people, spaceships, gun shops and Jeezus.

 

Onward to Baltimore…..

 


Upcoming Events

Mar
1
Sun
3:00 pm St David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
St David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
Mar 1 @ 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Guest conductor from Wales National Eisteddfod of Wales blue riband winner / soloist 2 other blue riband winners 5 local Welsh voice choirs Congregational hymn singing Projected 700+ in attendance. Wow….should be wonderful!!!