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Tuesday
Oct282014

Churches' awards for Civil Dialogue 

Churches’ awards for Civil Dialogue come in the midst of electoral discord

In the midst of the current electoral discord, some Christians and other people of faith are asking “Is the divisiveness in the US affecting the churches more than the churches are affecting the divisiveness?” We want to show the culture the better way referred to in scripture, "instead, speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). To encourage such efforts, the Kentucky Council of Churches gave three awards this year for good work in the area of Civil Dialogue.

Dialogue between Catholics and Disciples

Revs. Rick Loader, Sally McClain and Joe GraffisFive Roman Catholics and five members of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ are continuing a practice of regular dialogue that began almost 40 years ago in Louisville. Before taking on the most sensitive topics, they began by learning each other's histories, personal and denominational. Then they talked about similarities and differences that were not too sensitive. Finally, they took on the most division-causing topics, sometimes called "life" issues. Even after so much groundwork had been laid, these topics were explosive for them. And so they took two years to do more disciplined listening to each other. Accepting the award for all the participants were the Rev. Joe Graffis of St. Edward Catholic parish in Jeffersontown and the Rev. Sally McClain, retired pastor of Edenside Christian Church. A link to Graffis and McClain's personal remarks at the award ceremony is here.

Episcopalians in Dialogue about Coal

Rev. Elise Johnstone with Rev. Shanks and Dr. McLaughlinEnergy issues, and especially the place of coal, often seem too hot to touch in Kentucky. The leadership team of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington has adapted a process they call "Holy Conversations" to make the coal topic touchable. They begin the dialogue process with a review of principles of good dialogue, distinguishing it from debate. Then they provide an overview of energy issues, focusing on the questions of who benefits, who pays, and who decides. They facilitate small group discussions and make sure the group hears the voices of people whose lives are affected by coal personally and professionally. The coal dialogue has now been conducted at a diocesan convention and on a regional basis with dioceses located throughout Appalachia. The award was accepted by the Rev. Margaret Shanks and Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin. The award banquet remarks are here.

Centre College's Civility Pledge

Thomas Becker is president of Centre's student governmentThe senior class graduating from Centre College this year is the cohort of students who created and annual embrace this pledge: "I promise to do my best, be my best, and respect the members and property of our Centre community."

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun122014

Bethany Fellows program "goes ecumenical" to help new clergy

The Bethany Fellows program supports ministers in those early years of service when they are most likely to burn out and leave the ministry. It was pioneered by the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and is funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Now the program is “going ecumenical” and will no longer be exclusively for Disciples clergy.

The program structure is two 5-day retreats throughout the year for a total of 8 retreats per participant. The week is filled with small group processing with participants’ peers and seasoned mentors, site visits to congregations doing excellent ministry, a 24 hour silent sabbath, and a great deal of prayer.

It is a national program, so all clergy in congregations and chaplaincies in all denominations across the country, within those first 5 years of serving, are eligible. The mentors are dispersed throughout the country. Rev. Kim Gage Ryan (located in Missouri) is the executive director. The website for the current Bethany Fellows program, including the contact information for the executive director, is here.

The Rev. Robyn Bles, a Bethany Fellow serving at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington KY, says, “If you know of any clergy serving a congregation or in chaplaincy and are still within those first 5 years, I hope you'll pass along this invitation to them. I cannot speak more highly of Bethany Fellows.  It not only steeped my first years of ministry in love, support, and prayer, but it transformed my daily practice of ministry.  I'm so thrilled that they're making it ecumenical as I think forming these prayerful colleagues in ministry is just what the Church needs.”

Monday
May192014

Engaging Compassion in 2014 - An Interfaith Discussion

To mark the one year anniversary of the Dalai Lama's visit to Louisville, a panel of representatives of diverse faith groups met May 19th at the Drepung Gomang Institute. Numerous practical insights were shared, such as the Dalai Lama's challenge for social service providers to meet the needy "where they are." If there was a consensus on priorities, they were education and practical action.

The Kentucky Council of Churches representative, Executive Director Marian Taylor, added a state-wide perspective on the challenges of moving to full acceptance of religious diversity. There was applause when she announced the Council's 2015 assembly will focus on just that theme. A photo of the evening's program can be seen here.

Monday
May192014

KBF Coordinator Announces Retirement

(Provided by KBF's Laura Barclay)

Dr. John LepperJohn Lepper, Coordinator for the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, announced his retirement effective June 30.  Lepper, founding Coordinator, has served in this role for sixteen years.  Bob Fox, KBF moderator and pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Georgetown, stated, “I am confident that John has left us as an organization well positioned to use our considerable gifts to do the continuing hard work of ensuring that KBF will be an organization that individuals and churches will partner with in meaningful gospel work for years to come.”

Lepper’s last acts as Coordinator will be to help oversee KBF’s ninth Extreme Build project in McCreary County and facilitate the KBF state meeting at the CBF General Assembly.

During Lepper’s tenure at KBF, the organization forged partnerships globally and locally with ministries in Morocco, McCreary County, Owsley County and Nada. In addition, KBF was instrumental in the founding of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and has provided financial support for and collaboration with BSK from its inception. Greg Earwood, President of BSK, shared that he was “grateful that John guided KBF into this partnership” and appreciated his “kind and gracious friendship.”
 
Lepper also served on the board of the Kentucky Council of Churches after helping lead KBF into a formal partnership. Marian McClure Taylor, Executive Director for the KCC, said of Lepper, “He helped bring the KBF into the Kentucky Council of Churches, not just formally but relationally…I personally see John as a mentor, because he exemplifies Christian leadership.”
 
Lepper is optimistic about KBF, saying, “I have high hopes for the future viability of Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. With a succession plan in place and with a staffing study group in the process of evaluating the overall staffing needs and financial abilities of KBF, I can move forward in my own life, confident that the One who began a good work in KBF, and in each of us, will continue that good work.“
 
Prior to his work with KBF, Lepper served as Department Director at the Kentucky Baptist Convention and was a pastor for 15 years. Prior to and during his time with KBF he has had extensive experience in interim ministry.
 
When asked about his plans for retirement, Lepper responded, “I anticipate focusing on one of my passions which is helping churches in pastoral transitions. It remains to be seen how that will unfold but I do anticipate being involved in this aspect of church life. 

Sunday
May042014

Shards of Grace Movement Launches

 Shards of Grace is a movement to acknowledge the acts of kindness we have received by sending a simple note of thanks. In God's economy, each act of kindness performed or acknowledged inspires more acts of kindness. That creates a movement of kindness, a movement our world so desperately needs.

  Each of us has been on the receiving end of another person's grace. Think about a time when a teacher, youth leader, Sunday School teacher, co-worker, relative, neighbor or friend touched your life in such a way that you still carry the effect of that touch. We call those act of kindness "shards of grace." Each of our lives is a mosaic shaped by others' acts of kindness. They influence our attitudes, our behaviors and our priorities. We ask you to take the time simply to say "thanks" to people who have touched your lives. Help us change the world one simple thank you at a time.

   If you choose, you can order our Shards of Grace note cards we have created to facilitate the movement. We would like to harvest acts of kindness stories, share them lavishly, and inspire more acts and stories.

   The purchase of Shards of Grace note cards also supports our shared ministries through the Kentucky Council of Churches.

  Why not demonstrate to your community the love and compassion of your congregation through a Shards of Grace ministry? Order cards and read more ideas about this at this link!

 

The Inscription on the Back of the Card reads: 

Shardof Grace

People we encounter each day gift us with a piece of themselves, a “shard of grace.”

Our lives are like a mosaic shaped by these gifts.

Your “shard of grace” has influenced me.

I just wanted to say, “Thank you!”