Archive for September, 2015

Mobile Pope

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Earlier in my career, I spent four years in Rome. As the one of the few non-Catholic clergy on speaking terms with the Catholic Church (most Italian Protestants were either very left-wing Methodists or right-wing Evangelicals), I was invited once or twice a year to ecumenical events with the Pope. My wife and I would sometimes meet John Paul II at a “private” audience for the few visiting clergy.

Pope John Paul ranks for me among the three most charismatic people I have ever met in my life. More than a celebrity, he was truly magnetic–instantly likable.

By all accounts, Pope Francis shares the instant attractiveness of his predecessor-minus-one. While even those of us in the religious field are amazed at all the attention being paid to his U.S. visit, it is perhaps not so surprising. People are fascinated by someone who is not rich or beautiful or probably even extraordinarily bright or talented–but has the charism or gift of helping people to believe. May God bless his visit. —J. Douglas Ousley


Answering the Call

Friday, September 11th, 2015

A generally quiet remembrance here of the 9/11 Terror Attacks, two miles from the Twin Towers.

But there were a few more people coming into church and a larger than usual crowd attending the Friday service. A novelty this year, provided by our Associate Rector were little flash tattoos of a feather. These were offered by a group of widows and orphans of NY firefighters and police who died in the disaster or who succumbed to ailments stemming from the attacks.

We put a little sign out front of the church and a basket of the tattoos inside the door and were surprised to find people coming in to snatch them up. It’s touching that folks want visible symbols of their thoughts and feelings. And good news for followers of a sacramental religion. —J. Douglas Ousley


Slaves to Wall Street

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Endowments are a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, they provide money that doesn’t have to be raised every year from people who are current attendees of the parish. They often–as in Incarnation’s case–can support buildings that otherwise couldn’t be maintained.

On the other hand, they can lull a congregation into believing they don’t need to give sacrificially to their church. They let the endowment will pick up the tab. That attitude can limit new work in the parish or can lead to cutbacks and deferred maintenance or even to drawing down the endowment. And the idea that we need only give a modest tip to the parish every year isn’t likely to deepen our commitment to the work of Jesus Christ.

So the Wall Street jitters vibrate into our own endowed parish. But, at the least, they may spur our Stewardship 2016 program–and financial downturns usually bring new people to church! —J. Douglas Ousley