My favorite churchly site

We all know the Desert Island game — immortalized on the BBC with its Desert Island Disks show — where you are limited to x number of books or records for an indefinite amount of time.

Not quite in the spirit of the game (unless one had it cached on a solar-powered laptop) is the Desert Island website. I suppose it should be about making a coconut radio or something the Professor would do. But assuming I was the chaplain, say, on Lost, what would I want?

Easy-peasy. Give me Ken Collins’ Web Site. Not an inspiring name, but a fantastic resource as a training tool for lay pastors or seminarians, or a refresher and resource for the more seasoned. I’ve not written articles because I know Ken Collins — a Disciples of Christ minister in the DC ‘burbs with a good sense of what’s core Christianity — wrote it first.

He writes well, with humor, and is very practical. To see what I mean, start with “How to Lead a Lousy Worship Service”.

Priestcraft and worship, reviewed

I recall what my seminary worship professor said about the clergy: that we are, among other things, “ritual technologists.” We ought to know the right way to do the mechanics of worship. I thought about this when I commented favorably to a Presbyterian minister about his denomination’s must-have Book of Common Worship. He responded to this praise with exasperation: “A thousand pages of worship material, but not a word about how to use it!”

Getting the words off the page and into worship is a basic competancy of the ministry, but one for which Unitarian Universalists are poorly prepared. I suspect this is because such “priestcraft” was assigned to the barrel of superstition in the more distant past, and more recently denegrated as something of a trade-school skill. I suppose it is the sort of thing that elders teach their juniors, and I am not at all aided by the fact that my elders by-and-large either dismissed Christianity or dismissed tradition full-stop. Well, by this time you know I am traditional (but not a traditionalist) and a Christian. Like most people, I like worship that works. Call this my bid for eldership; indeed, I have spent a lot of time on this blog addessing the issue of “practical theology” and I hope visitors will avail themselves of the search feature, whether they are ordained or not.

So, for the next few entries, on and off, I’ll review a few things I’ve picked up. I hope they help.

Next: The rhythm of the morning service

No-one likes a Universalist with a social disease

Prowling the Internet tonight for websites related to the dissemination of practical information to persons in developing countries, an interest I’ve had since childhood. (Yes, I was a bit of an odd child, but then again, I figured once The Bomb dropped, and assuming I survived, I thought it would be worth knowing how to dig a well. In any case, I found New Zealand Digital Library among other resources.)

One of the other resources I found was from Cornell University, HEARTH: Home Economics Archive – Research, Tradition, History which is much like the Making of America library I also like.

So I made a search, and what search term did you think I used? “Universalist,” of course.

Well, little did I guess home economics includes the steamier enterprise formerly known as “social hygiene.” They were all about stamping out venereal disease. The following is from the Journal of Social Hygiene, June 1945, page 338, itself an article reprinted from a decade earlier.

This is the passage that hit:

Frederick W. Betts, D.D., chairman of the Syracuse Moral Survey Committee
and pastor of the First Universalist Church of that city, in a History of that Committee’s three years’ work, said:

“Up to 1913 Syracuse was known everywhere among its citizens and the travelling public as a ‘wide-open city.’ Commercialized vice flourished openly in every form.”

Further on in the article, it is clear the problem was V.D. and the source was brothels. So good for him (and tough for Syracuse) in his public ministry.

More: Earlier issues of the same journal show the Ohio state convention (the only denominational body in that state to work on veneral disease) has “endorsed the syphilis campaign and propose to adopt a comprehensive educational program for young people in the various church congregations” (May-June 1938, p. 358).

Looks like Max Kapp is mentioned in the March 1937 issue. (More syphilis) and following the link to the listed 1915 journal, you can read Betts’s rather thrilling survey of the Syracuse red-light district.

M.Div. students, I’d use this stuff for a paper.

Another word on wedding, or, a (web) eye on arranging space for worship

I recall a few years ago that when a couple decided to broadcast a live video of their wedding it made international news. No more, it seems, in these last days. But don’t get me started about the institution of marriage, well, until later anyway.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled across a small selection of English registry office webcams. (I was looking for a standard rite, if there is one, for registry weddings. Call it a hobby. If you know of one, please leave word in the comments.) I also realized how passe’ a webcam is these days, last or otherwise.

There’s a market town near York, that has a not-awful room in which to get married. And I hope to see the Pocklington webcam in use. Church planters, note the chair set-up.

More of the same:

In Brent borough, Greater London, though it looks more like a place to close on a house than begin married life. (Indeed, Brent council has two webcams, and the wedding cam gets second billing to “watch live as Wembley Stadium is knocked down.”)

This makes the claim of Wandsworth borough, Greater London, that it has “award winning register office has been extensively and tastefully refurbished and offers some of the best facilities for wedding parties in the UK” sound about right. Of course, that begs for a church wedding.

The Welsh, too: See Swansea.

Deacons or not, a resource for caring

There’s a rather nicely put together Catholic apostolate with ready to download material that has care/outreach material that might be good for deacons or deacon-like caring associates.

Link: Lay Pastor Society

Web wish list: a page about using turkey roasters

I know you must be thinking “Scott’s flipped his lid” or “The secrets of Universalism are encoded here somehow” — no, this is an appeal for institutionalizing folk knowledge about creating fellowship meals for smallish churches.

My current church has at least one electric 18-quart turkey roaster. So did my last church, and, in fact, nearly every church kitchen I’ve seen has evidence of the kind of white enamelled roaster — “the kind grandma used” — and evidentally bequeated to churches.

A lot of hot food can be made in one of those roasters, which is really more of a table-top oven. That food could be the anchor for a really fun church meal. The sad thing is that there is little online advice as to how to use them, particularly for low-fat, vegetarian, or any non-middle-American cookery. Think of this as a wish for some more very practical theology.

There is a link below to a few helpful recipes I’ve found, but here’s the real deal: I’ll offer a template and some space here at for anyone who is willing to host a page, for at least a year and with a particular focus on church-friendliness, on “turkey roaster” cookery.

Add a comment if you’re interested.

Dinner for fifty

Where church and Demosthenian intersect

I know a few of my readers are less interested in Universalist theology than the fact that we’re members of the same collegiate debating society. Howdy, Demosthenians!

On Sunday, before I walk to church, I watch a PBS show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, which I dub “the farm report.” News to keep up with the business, you know.

The last feature was from Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia.

Youth Group’s “Random Act of Kindness” Leads to Bomb Scare

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly stories
(all the way at the bottom of the page)

The news story doesn’t mention that First Presbyterian is immediately behind City Hall, and that the cannon the Double-Barrelled Cannon is something of an eccentric Athens landmark, and that it points at the corner of the church property.

Link: the cannon