Position Announcement – Ministry Internship @ St. Paul’s

Ministry Intern staff position @ St. Paul’s UCC Church, Dallas

Contact: Pastor   @    stpaulsucc (at)sbcglobal.net   or   214-368-7788
Focus: Children, Youth and Families –
Internal to the congregation and out in the community
Starting Date: As Soon As Available after July 31st
Hours: 15-20 / week, 48 weeks / year
Pay: Commensurate with experience,
plus mileage and expense reimbursements

The final job description will be negotiated with the successful applicant. Below is a brief overview of the shape of the position, accountabilities, responsibilities and flexibility.

Primary Vision for the position: To provide an opportunity for someone to grow and develop in their call to ministry, focused on building community and relationships among children, youth and families in congregation and surrounding neighborhoods. Our desire is that the Ministry Intern imagine, explore and discover existing and new ways to call, lead and disciple young people for the church of today and the work of the kingdom in the future. Success in this position will be measured by a) prayerful participation and effort, b) a willingness to take risks in consultation with church leaders, and c) the ability to learn from mistakes, rather than predetermined independent metrics like attendance. The successful candidate will be able to articulate their current personal understanding of and commitment to the Christian Faith in ways consistent with the mission and witness of St. Paul’s Church and the UCC.

On a weekly basis:

  • Provide leadership to the congregation’s ministry to children, youth and families, including teaching a class each week on Sunday mornings @ 10 am, in cooperation with parents and other adult leaders.
  • Meet with the supervising pastor for planning and formation. Dream and explore new expressions of ministry in our context and how they might apply in other settings.
  • Participate in the planning and leadership of worship on Sunday morning @ 11am, including preaching on occasion, at least quarterly.

On a monthly basis:

  • Plan and lead activities for children and youth in partnership with parents and other adult leaders.
  • Actively participate in Consistory (church governing body) meetings on Sunday afternoon.
  • Actively participate in monthly fellowship dinner, typically on the 4th Sunday, following worship.

On a regular basis:

  • Identify and engage at select community sites, including schools, businesses, retail settings, coffee shops and restaurants, for the purpose of listening deeply to people’s life stories and discovering together how God is at work and how the kingdom of God is emerging in our midst.
  • Participate occasionally in hospital and homebound visitation, primarily as a learning opportunity, not with ongoing responsibility in this area.
  • Learning, Networking and Collaboration: Meet with other ministry leaders and pioneers locally and beyond to share ideas and build a network of ministry colleagues and resources.
  • Participate in UCC and Ecumenical events, particularly related to children, youth and families.


Download the pdf :
Ministry Intern Position Announcement – St Pauls Church UCC Dallas

Why Tiny Houses? OR… The Wisdom of Small Things

Or, The wisdom of small things…

kids-tree-houseOne of the great joys of childhood is to have a small, cozy, safe place – a club house, a tree house, a loft, a fort. Children are also quick to repurpose things they find lying around, and with a little imagination they become whomever they desire – the whole world opens to them. The world of children, and children themselves, teach us the wisdom of small things.

Reclaiming this wisdom of small things is one of the impulses that prompts people to explore Tiny House living. Many religious and spiritual traditions point to children in particular, and small things more generally, as sources and examples of wisdom. “Faith like a child.” “Faith like a mustard seed.” “A little child will lead them.” “There are four things that are little upon the earth, but that are exceedingly wise…” In Taoism, “te” may be understood as “the virute of the small.”

Tiny House living gives individuals an opportunity to free themselves from the encumberance of stuff and the burden of excess. A smaller house costs less to own, operate and maintain. This means less time is spent earning the money required to meet these obligations. It also requires less time to manage, clean and keep, freeing additional time. The self-imposed discipline of simplicity means limiting one’s possessions, though not necessarily living a spare or plain existence. A tiny house may have very fine finishes and furnishings, though they will be fewer and smaller. It may be a choice of “quality over quantity”.

Altering our relationship with the built environment,and with the other people who inhabit it, are two additional dynamics of tiny house living. Because of the unique nature of tiny house living (because it is out of the norm) those who choose such an adventure often find themselves in community with one another, learning from and supporting each other.  This echoes the cameraderie of any group of people who share a common interest, along with the mutual values of postmodern pioneers who see the inherent worth in sharing resources as an act of creation care and human flourishing.

A tiny house is often on wheels, and even if not, its relationship to the land is distinctly different from a traditional single family dwelling that is “permanently rooted” to a particular spot. The presumption of traditional single family homes is that “this is my house, and this is my yard” (A man’s [sic] home is his castle!). From a tiny house one gets both a freedom to venture out into the world, and a freedom from the notion that we can actually own the land upon which we stand or sleep. Tiny houses remind us both that the whole world is available to us, and that none of it actually belongs to us as a posession, but rather that we are intwined as fellow travelers on this earth with all of the other creatures. Tiny Houses are themselves entering into the mainstream consciousness by way of HTGV and other networks. And yet they are far from the norm, more a curiosity. Many viewers may be no more serious about living in a tiny house than they are about traveling to the places they see on Extreme Vacations. And yet any of us might listen to, learn from, and enact the wisdom of small things that we see in this movement.

13411690_280925552247229_1873914111324031838_oThe Missional Wisdom Foundation exists to practice and teach alternative expressions of community. This means that we find ourselves following a variety of paths into nontraditional (non-mainstream) ways of gathering and living. It means not so much that we reject the majority opinion, as that we want to experience and discover the wisdom found in other approaches. “Living Simply” is one such path, contrasting with so much that is dominant in our consumer oriented cultures and economies, both around and even within the church. Enter “The Tiny House.” For several years we have been experimenting with tiny houses as a way of imagining a deeply spiritual and communal way of living in harmony with oneself and the world. Whether we are building a house, imagining a community, or hosting houses alongside our other initiatives, we are seeking the wisdom in small things.

You can download a pdf version here – Why Tiny Houses – The wisdom of small things
Thanks to Beth Ann (BA) Norrgard – A Bed Over My Head – for consulting on this piece.
Treehouse photo unidentified – found on Pinterest.
Photo of three tiny houses credit BA Norrgard.

Retreats for Ministry Leaders


What are you seeking from your retreat experiences?

I recall going on a clergy retreat after Easter several years ago. During a break one colleague asked me, “So, are you getting some rest?” “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I don’t come to these for rest. If I want that, I go off by myself.” As a participant I find group retreats important and valuable, but interacting with groups of people is not restful – it takes work. My best rest is in solitude or with a very few intimates.

The event was well planned and well led, on the whole. During one session the facilitator invited us to share a struggle we had gone through. When it came my turn, I shared an interpersonal dynamic challenge through which I’d journeyed in the past year. Immediately my colleagues shifted into helping mode, and for the next 45 minutes attempted to diagnose, prescribe and fix whatever was broken. They reminded me of Job’s three friends (Job 4ff). Despite her best efforts the event leader had difficulty bringing the group back to focus – the purpose was never to elicit solutions to problems, but simply to bear witness to one another’s pain and experience the grace and mercy of knowing oneself in the midst of community of shared struggle on life’s journey.

So, I’m wanting to know what you are seeking when you go on retreat. What are the elements of an experience that are most important for you? Paint a picture in your mind of what will nourish you, personally and professionally, in whatever ways are most needed and wanted. What will help you to flourish? Then describe that preferred reality.

  • Renewal? Rest? Relationships? Resources? Reflection?
  • How do retreat and continuing education connect and relate for you?
    What is the overlap or distance between them?
  • Do you seek community or solitude, and in what measures?
  • Do you want an urban or rural setting, or does it matter?
  • What level of physical activity do you seek? (walk, exercise, etc?)
  • What kind of ritual experiences do you seek?
  • What expressions of spirituality do you seek?
  • Do you want to retreat with colleagues and friends, or do you prefer to meet new people and develop new relationships?

Additionally, there are logistical questions:

  • How long do you want / need to be away
  • If different, how much time can you afford to be away?
  • How much money do you have budgeted?
  • How far can / will you travel from home, and how do you prefer to travel (car, bus, train, plane, walking, hang glider, hot air balloon, tardis?

What other factors are important to you in a retreat experience?

I look forward to learning from you and exploring together how best to support ministry leaders through retreats and similar events.

Physically Present

Settle in. Embrace the present. Rejoice and give thanks for what is. Recognize and celebrate the blessings that are here and now, the overflowing of the cup, rather than the pieces that seem to be lacking or missing or just out of view.

It seems that my physical strengthening – and even simply being more physically active swimcapgogglesand engaged with my body – also leads to greater sense of contentment. I’m feeling more grounded in my body, literally more physically present. As I push myself physically, which has not historically been part of my life, I’m feeling more engaged with the world, and more at home and at peace. It is a great affirmation of the Synchronous Life model I’ve been developing, and my own experience of engagement with it.

I’ve been so focused on the life of the mind and the spirit for years, and experience myself and my world mainly through internal mental reflection and conversation, which seems one step removed from the immediate, visceral reality of my actual experience.

So my hope is that without reducing or denegrating these manifestations of life, I am growing into a more wellrounded, grounded and balanced person. Part of me wishing that I’d done this 20 years ago, but then quickly moving beyond that to simple gratitude that I’m doing it now – returning again to the present.

When I look in the mirror I feel a bit like a photoshop project caught mid-shift – When the
computer fades or morphs one image into another, and in that facemorphinbetween stage that’s neither what was nor what is becoming. It also kind of feels like my old face is photoshopped onto someone else’s body. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ripped and don’t expect to be (mostly because I can’t envision having that kind of time to work out) but my body shape is actually changing. And I look and feel younger too, which is nice.

I’m also aware from past seasons of swimming that exercise helps me sleep better, and have less back pain. My core is strengthening, which is provides an additional kind of physical balance and improves my posture. Better posture and more sleep lead to improved circulation and mental acquity.

This process has required effort on my part. I have needed to overcome mental and emotional barriers to the idea of doing an open water swim. I have needed to overcome the physical and mental lethargy of not exercising. I have had to receive the challenge from my best friends to join them in a ½ Tri Relay as an invitation to renewal and transformation, far more than the physical test it will certainly be. I have needed to process through the relationship between contentment, complacency, and comfort. I have needed to exchange the discomfort of complacency for the discomfort of effort, which has moved be, surprisingly, deeper toward contentment. As a dear friend reported from someone else, “When you get to be our age, your body is going to hurt from something. You can have pain that results from being out of shape, or choose the pain that comes with puhsing yourself physically.” As I said, I’m not someone who has had a habit of regular disciplined exercise in a way that challenged me physically. This new commitment to a physical discipline is also seeming to shift the way I experience and think about the other facets of my life. Again, even though I know this and teach it, I have still been caught off guard by my own personal experience of it.

It is one thing to talk about and help others understand the essential integration of body, mind and spirit. It is quite another to experience a shift personally, within myself, and sense that it is more than it appears on the surface to be. This shift is presenting itself to my consciousness as an emergence of something previousy unknown, something new. Where it leads I do not know, and unlike my pattern in the past, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with not knowing where the road is leading. My joy now is found in simply embracing what is, leaning into it even when it is a bit uncomfortable.