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Category Archives: Acts 8

Acts8 BLOGFORCE: Stewardship and Anxiety

This is in response to the Acts8 BLOGFORCE! challenge question around stewardship.  

I have a phobia around money. I don’t think this is unique to me–lots of people, I’m sure, have similar hang-ups. I am convinced that I will never have enough money, that I am using money incorrectly, and that I am a Bad Person for the ways in which I spend money. And so opening the little banking app on my phone fills me with the cold sweats.

I know where this comes from. I survived several periods in my life where I could not make ends meet–and trips to the grocery store or to the doctor were delayed until the next paycheck came through. I also grew up in a family where the reason given as to why we didn’t have the things the people around us did was ”people make different choices with their money.” So, I got the message that if I couldn’t make ends meet, it was because I had done something wrong. Money became, for me, a stand-in for my moral worth.

Curiously, despite money having all this moral weight in my brain, I never heard much in church about money. There was the annual stewardship sermon, which implored us to give money to keep the building heated and the lights on but not much else.

It was in seminary, with the brilliant (and now of blessed memory) Terry Parsons, who started to change my mind about money. Stewardship, as she explained it, was not an annual event designed to pay the bills–stewardship was how you lived your life.

As she told it, everything we have is a gift from God. Despite what culture says, we don’t earn what we have, and we don’t deserve it. Our material possessions are free gifts, which we are called to be faithful stewards of so that the mission of God can prosper.

That was a really big deal for me. For the first time, someone was contradicting the idea that good morality equated to economic prosperity, that I had picked up. In Terry’s view of the world, having money or not having money wasn’t a value judgement. Money (with some major differences in the distribution system!) was more like grace– since we all received it undeservedly, our job was to send it forth just as freely.

And so what did it matter whether I had money or not? Money belonged to God, not me. My job was to put money where God wanted it anyway. Does God want me to have healthcare? Then yes, I should pay that doctor. Does God want people to be able to have a living wage? Then no, I should not shop at WalMart, even though it was cheaper than many alternatives. Does God want the church to survive? Then yes, I should certainly give to my local parish and its mission.

Coming to see money and my material possessions as belonging to God, and not to me was a radical shift in my understanding and comfort level with money. It empowered me to be bolder with my resources, more able to see at work in everything around me–even the things which scare me most.

Blog Force Participant

Home again, Home again

I have now returned from my month-long string of conferences.  First CREDO in north-central Florida, then General Convention in Salt Lake City.  Both amazing, both exhausting in their own ways.

(Though–a protip–there’s really no better way to head into the onslaught of stress that is General Convention than a good CREDO.  But the bliss from your massage will disappear by day 3.)

I tweeted a lot, as you may have noticed.  Unlike last Convention, the House of Twitter was quite full this year, and we had a great time together watching the livestream from home, or commenting on legislation from the floor from the Alternates Paddock.  This was especially helpful on days when we waded into the parliamentary weeds for 45 minutes at a time.

I also wrote some things, though not for the blog.  I mentioned in the last post that I would be writing for Deputy News, and indeed I did.  Here is what I wrote (in reverse chronological order, to keep you on your toes!):

I believe: On how the Episcopal Church is overcoming its crisis of confidence.  And also about the Book of Mormon.

Hanging out in #gc78: On how the Twitter community formed during Convention. Also the likelihood of a robot takeover.

Then I’ll Sing, ‘Cause I’ll know : On witnessing a history-making week, and why everyone should listen to Nina Simone

A day in the life: Praying to lose control: On the Acts8 evening prayer service, and listening to the WeMo teens talk about resurrection

General Convention and Episcopal Jeopardy!: On the process of hearing from the Presiding Bishop candidates, and the whimsical nature of gameshows (NB: a deputy came up to me after this was published and critiqued my Jeopardy metaphor, with great seriousness.  He argued that it should be Bingo, as any game aficionado would know.  So, kindly consider the Jeopardy metaphor redacted.)

A Day in the Life: Megan is a Guinea Pig:  On the triumphs of being a legislative aide, and how we should all respect the spirituality of Hermes from Futurama.

Avengers, Pandas descend on Salt Lake City: On the resemblance of Episcopalians to both the Avengers and pandas.


I wrote a lot during Convention (I’m just now realizing) and one of the weirdest and best parts of the experience for me was having person after person approach me, shake my hand, and say that they read my tweets, or read my articles.

I forget that people read this, or that anyone outside of my parents and one or two very dedicated sermon fans read this.

So, thank you again for reading.  You are amazing and wonderful and a delight to write for!


IKEA and restructuring the church.

Kansas City is getting its very own IKEA on Wednesday, and this is a very big deal for our little Stars-Hollow-goes-big town. To that end, TREC sounds like a particularly enraging shelving unit that you’d buy at IKEA—one that’s missing half its hardware, where the allen wrench breaks twice in the process of constructing it, but that looked so damn nice on the showroom floor that you even sprang for some cheap throw pillows in the hopes that this one shelving unit would solve all your organizational problems forever! You, too, could live a clutter-free life like in the catalogs!

But no. Dust, allen wrenches, and reality intervened.

That’s pretty much how it’s going with TREC. It started out so hopefully: the Taskforce to Reimagine the Episcopal Church was given an unanimous mandate by General Convention 2012 to go and figure out how we needed to restructure ourselves.

Nothing happens unanimously in this church—I once saw a resolution on whether or not we agreed to read the Bible voted down at diocesan convention. (There were extenuating circumstances, but still.)

TREC had the wind at its back, a song in its heart, brilliant people working together, and all of that I say in sincerity.

So what they’ve managed to put out so far has been… puzzling and disappointing.

Some of it has been good. Clearly, they realize that we need to change. Yes, the church wide structure is unwieldy, and no one knows quite who’s directing who, and we spend quite a lot of money that we no longer have on this whole system.

Clearly, this mess of books lying here on my floor calls for a shelving unit.

But it’s here, after having sniffed around the problem, that TREC seems to spazz out a bit, as in their latest open letter.

After having determined we need to change, they’ve proposed the following:

1. Changes that aren’t changes.
This suggestion that the Presiding Bishop should have all the 815 staff report to her/him, and be able to fire and hire at will?

Technically, that is exactly the situation now. There’s nothing written anywhere that prevents that—aside from the notion that it’s generally thought to be a poor leadership move to have the people you’re in ministry with afraid of you 100% of the time. But, YMMV.

If there’s a sense that the system, as it stands, lacks accountability, that might be a problem with personality, rather than logistics.

2. Changes that don’t make much sense.
General Convention is crazy enough as it is, with its countless legislative committees. Why, in the name of all of Baby Jesus’s tiny teething toys, would you want to cut the number of legislative committees? For starters, that makes the workload more, not less. Also, that disenfranchises deputies, because it will be harder than ever to get on a committee. 

If you’re worried about the strain on Convention (and yes, we should be.), fast track the resolutions that are important: that have many sponsors, and that come from Executive Council. And empower legislative committees to kill resolutions that are ridiculous and have no chance at passing, or (in the case of Constitution and Canons) are clearly uncanonical.

3. Changes that might be fantastic ideas, but they’re so cloaked in buzzwords, that I’m not sure what’s going on, or why we would implement them.

Look, I understand that shifting all your workers to “contract” employees is the hot new thing in the secular world. I know this because many of my friends had it happen to them, and as a result, they have no healthcare, no pensions, no 401(k)s, and are paying self-employment taxes, yet are doing the exact same job.

There’s no good explanation given about why shifting the program staff at 815 to ‘contractor’ status would help things. Again, there’s already accountability in the system, since they can all be fired—no one’s got tenure or anything. And the bulk of our staffing costs isn’t in program staff anyway—it’s in administration staff, which would be untouched in this shift.

So what it looks like is happening is that TREC is proposing doing a pretty shady thing that til now, has been very popular mainly with the major cubicle-dwelling corporations, chiefly to save a small amount of money. Come on, y’all. We can do better than that.

There are a few other things too (I remain unconvinced that TREC has read, learned, marked, and inwardly digested, the canons, because the only canonically required standing committee is Constitution and Canons. Which TREC just got rid of. Awkward.)


But here’s the bottom line:
TREC is not going to be the golden savior shelving unit that we thought it was going to be. It will not solve all our problems in one fell swoop.
We probably pinned too many of our hopes on them to begin with.  We got caught up in the moment, in the excitement of the swedish meatballs, the tiny pencils, and the artfully arranged decor.

But I’m relatively okay with that, because now we’ve started to have these conversations; we are learning what we like and what we don’t. What fits in here, and what doesn’t.

How to build our own set of shelves.

We will never clean up all the mess; we will never have a catalog-perfect house, but maybe one day, we will just make it liveable again.

Episcopal Haiku!

It’s been a very relaxing summer.  I’ve watched the World Cup all around the city. I’ve not had to be at work at 7am in the morning (the main perk of summer.)

And I’ve finally understood why Midwesterners go ON and  ON about patios.  When it’s blasted cold 6 months out of the year, you get unreasonably excited when you can finally venture outside, even if you’re just sitting on a slab of concrete, to sip a beer.

To celebrate the waning days of summer, then, Acts 8 Moment is holding another BLOGFORCE! event, wherein we’re soliciting haikus about church.

Here’s mine:

Regarding church, I
Still like Jesus (who cooked fish)
much as I love Christ
To read everyone else’s haiku (s?)  go to and/or!  participate in our Tweetchat on Monday evening, August 11, 9pm/8pm ET/Central.