Watson: Don’t sell the parsonage

Jul 17, 2017 by

When I accepted my current position, I considered the parsonage a drawback and only a temporary housing option. After four years watching my work and the market, I am convinced the parsonage, though its...

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Watson: Deeper than charity

Jun 5, 2017 by

Reparations is a chilling word to most white people. An aggressive, accusatory word that will have many people skipping over this column before they finish the first paragraph. I invite you to stay with me. As...

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Watson: Generations at odds?

Apr 24, 2017 by

The older generation always thinks the younger generation is going to pot. I hear this statement regularly in the church, repeated by the older generation who dedicated their lives to the church. I also hear...

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No more palms, please

Mar 29, 2017 by

Most Christians never question where the palms on Palm Sunday come from. It never occurred to me, until my first year pastoring, that someone had to get the palms (and order them well in advance). But as we...

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Watson: High-fiber activism

Mar 13, 2017 by

“Every time I leave one of these, I have a headache,” a woman groaned as we left the community town hall meeting. More than 150 people had crowded into a church’s multipurpose room to discuss the issues...

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Watson: In defense of football

Jan 30, 2017 by

For many of us, January’s cold snaps and post-holiday haze mark an important annual ritual: playoffs in the National Football League. It is an event that, when we stop to think, strikes a dissonant chord...

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Watson: I’ll take the pat-down

Dec 19, 2016 by

I am slow going through airport security. I tend to hold up the line. Confuse other passengers. Disrupt the TSA agents. That is because I always decline the full-body scanning machines in favor of a pat-down....

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Watson: Love the land together

Nov 7, 2016 by

Recently, in an endless Facebook scroll, I saw the phrase “reintegration of Trump voters.” The phrase, now lost to the annals of endless scrolls, stuck with me. On Nov. 9, the “yuge” year-plus...

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Watson: Suburbs, city of God?

Sep 26, 2016 by

In most circles, theological ones included, the suburbs are spoken of as the illegitimate child of urban and rural life — and with good reason. The suburban ideal emerged in the 1950s and 1960s under the...

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The economy of Jesus

Aug 15, 2016 by

Capitalism is killing Christianity. When a seminary friend first suggested this theory to me a year ago, I thought it was overblown. I have no affinity for capitalism as an economic system. I’m as much an...

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Still hoping, trusting

Jul 4, 2016 by

Early in my teen years, I asked myself if I really wanted to belong to the Mennonite church or if I was doing it out of family habit. But during my freshman year of high school, as the U.S. charged toward an...

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Sanders says it

May 23, 2016 by

Two months ago at Sent, the Anabaptist church-planting conference, I spoke with some young church plant­ers about what brings millennials to church. “May­be we should be more like Bernie Sanders,” I...

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Seminary debt is church’s burden

Apr 11, 2016 by

When people ask why I, a lifelong Mennonite, chose not to get my graduate degree at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, I usually offer the easy answer: As a lifelong Pacific Northwesterner, four years at...

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Dressing for the role

Feb 29, 2016 by

When I signed my first pastoral contract and began trading my Atlanta wardrobe for suburban Chicago, I took a long look in my closet and asked myself: Am I willing to give up skinny jeans? I don’t think...

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An old dog learns

Jan 18, 2016 by

A great deal of my pastoral time is spent dreaming. Last week I sat at my desk, dreaming about what the congregation could look like in five years or 10 years. When I thought about what sort of leadership they...

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What is Lancaster doing right?

Jan 8, 2016 by

We have a phrase around here: “Chicago over Everything.” It means we have mad love for the city when they do something right, and when the city messes up, we keep our pride and stay loyal. I’m starting...

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Injustice requires interruption

Dec 1, 2015 by

“Some of the most important moments in your ministry will happen in the interruptions,” a professor told me while I was in my first week of seminary. As I walked down Michigan Avenue in Chicago, speeding...

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How Lancaster’s and Western District’s decisions affect the rest of us

Nov 5, 2015 by

It certainly appears that the church’s extremes got more extreme this weekend, as far as it goes with LGBTQ participation. I don’t think this is the case, though — no one has gotten more extreme,...

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You can’t kill Hitler

Oct 28, 2015 by

Last week, while wandering through Exodus 15 debating whether or not the death of Pharaoh’s soldiers was justified, the teenagers (I would call them “my teenagers,” but they are uncomfortable with...

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What’s with the grapes?

Sep 1, 2015 by

I love communion. I was delighted to learn that my first pastorate was in a congregation that took communion once a month (more often than many Mennonite churches). But there is one question I’ve struggled...

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