Monthly Archives: July 2015


“Earth is forgiveness school. I believe that’s why they brought us here, then left us without any owner’s manual.”  ~Anne Lamott

This fall we will be delving deeply into the theme of “Anger and Forgiveness.”  This topic will shape teaching and preaching in late September and October. In preparation for this series I was reading Anne Lamott, an author who writes often about the challenges and importance of forgiveness. Here are some things that she said on the topic in an interview with

“Forgiveness has become a pursuit more important to me than almost anything. Because.. it’s not my strong suit. I always joke that I wasn’t one of those Christians who was heavily into forgiveness – that I was the other kind…  But it’s so awful to be a person who doesn’t forgive…

…To forgive someone is the hardest work we do. I’ve had to be disciplined about it. Like meditation or in my spiritual journey, or exercise – hiking…  You never want to do any hard work – you just want to watch MSNBC and eat miniature Kit-Kats. Believe me, that’s what I’d prefer to do.  [But,] not forgiving makes you toxic. And then you really have very little to offer your family or the world or your audience, because you’re faking it.

[I often write]… about that predicament of that clenched, clutched feeling when we don’t forgive. And then that miracle of grace, like a spiritual WD-40, that gets into the very stuck, grinding places inside of us…

The more public I am, the more people I talk to, the more I realize that I’d been comparing my insides to people’s outsides. And people’s insides are all the same amount of screwed-up-idness … People are very hurt, they’re very scared for their families, they’re keening deep down for what happened to them as children. Sometimes with truly awful families, sometimes with a culture that only values beauty or fitting in … And people who were shunned by their families because of fundamentalism or because of who they loved. I find out everybody’s in the same boat. …People feel troubled and sad and overwhelmed by the amount of pain they’re carrying…

We’re all angry, no matter how sweet or Buddhist or Christian or tender-hearted we appear. We’re all angry. And we’ve got to deal with it at some point. And dealing with the grief and the anger and the lack of forgiveness is the way home.”

This fall we will be exploring more deeply the challenges and opportunities of forgiveness. Our series, Anger and Forgiveness in the Digital Age, will shape preaching and teaching in Palmer Hall  on September 27, October 4, and October 11.

How An Electric Bill Can Change A Life

“I can’t believe an electric bill changed my life”

How can an electric bill possibly change someone’s life?  Brandon Duncan claims just that, because it was a bill that first brought him to COMPASS’ Hand Up Program.

In May, many of us heard from Brandon in a Minute for Mission during worship and also in a class called “The Best Kept Secret – Single Black Fathers,” all part of COMPASS’ “HisStory” emphasis.

Now we hear from Brandon a third time, about how this single custodial father, who is raising his two children as a lone parent, is finding full time employment.  It is a story of hope, determination and mentorship.

Enter Norman Deena, spouse of COMPASS Director Fredericka Wallace-Deena.  Norman works for Community Housing Network (CHN).  CHN develops, owns and manages housing across Franklin County, renting affordable apartments to people disabled by mental illness, substance addictions and histories of homelessness.

Norman had encouraged Brandon to find full time work.  But Brandon had a stumbling block – he had a felony on his record, which essentially made him a permanent temporary worker.  But Hand Up doesn’t give up.  Rather, it replaces words like “entitlement” and “dependency” with the expectation that participants be the first investors in their own lives.

Norman participated in that mission by going the extra mile.  He took Brandon’s resume in to CHN and vouched for him.

What joy they experienced, when, after several interviews, Brandon was hired as a Community Housing Coordinator!

Brandon’s new job starts August 3.  He looks forward to working 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  For the first time he will be able to put his daughter and son on the school bus in the morning and greet them before dark.

Sometimes in life we encounter obstacles, big immoveable things, like a felony in one’s past.  That is one truth.  But there is a larger, bigger truth; “With God, all things are possible.”

Brandon says, “I can’t believe an electric bill changed my life … Norman gave me a chance, not just for a job, but for a career.”  Thanks be to God for a place like COMPASS’s Hand Up program, a mentor named Norman, and a persistent father named Brandon.


Take Us With You! 5 Compelling Summer Podcasts from Broad Street

BSPC staff member Nicole Denman, Director of Communications, offers this week’s evotional, written as part of a project for a class called “Content Strategy for Professionals: Expanding Your Content’s Impact and Reach.”

Ever since Brittany and I led the winter Adult Education class, Understanding Social Media, then again when we introduced Broad Street Listens, people have asked us, “What are your favorite podcasts?” So we decided to share what we listen to, and why it’s on our subscription list.

1. This American Life
Who Listens: Amy & Brittany
Why: A staple on NPR since 1996, This American Life is the most popular podcast in the country, with around one million people downloading each episode. Each week, experimental logic and journalist integrity open up a different theme.  Their recent piece on The Birds and the Bees discussed how to talk to children about sex and sexual assault.  A great piece for parents, grandparents, and others who have children they care about, this podcast not only makes us think, but gives conversations starters for those talks we really should have.  We suggest you listen to the podcast alone, and then discuss with your child, as some parts may be too mature for all audiences.

2. TED Radio Hour
Who Listens: Amy, Ann, Nicole
Why: We know and love TED talks, and this NPR production is promoted as “a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create.” It’s based on the famous TED Talks with a common theme.  One I love and share is Animals and Us, discussing our complicated relationship with animals.  Whether you are an animal lover or just watch cat videos on YouTube, you can’t deny pets have become a part of our lives.

3. Invisibilia
Who Listens: Amy & Brittany
Why:  Just a few months old, Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”) explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. A must listen is The Secret History of Thoughts which discusses the inner workings of dark thoughts and what they really mean. This podcast can help with the understanding of others, as the man in the first part of the piece suffers from Harm OCD, making the audience question if a man who is obsessed with harming his loved ones is actually more moral than those who don’t have this condition.

4. On Being
Who Listens: Amy & Brittany
Why: This Peabody Award-winning podcast discusses many of the questions about being a human in the 21st-century.  We suggest the April 2, 2015 show with Father Greg Boyle, The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship as he discusses what it means for those looking for a second chance. It may challenge your opinion about gang members and whether they can become functioning members of society.

5. Story Corps
Who Listens: Ann, Nicole
Why: Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with more than 100,000 participants, which are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The podcasts focus on one or two interviews with a similar theme.  For instance, on the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombings, two young adults, some of the few survivors from the nursery, spoke about how something that happened when they were so young affected their lives forever.

Regardless of your preferences, there are dozens of podcasts available.  This is a great place to start …don’t be afraid to branch out and find one that speaks to you.


Happy are They Who Lead from the Back Pews

Brittany Porch recently share this blog post with me that does a lovely job of capturing some important things about church life.


Blessed are those whose names are unknown.

The voiceless ones

who were quiet, so their stories were never heard;
who were overwhelmed, so they couldn’t find the words;
who felt like others had more important songs to sing;
who shared their stories in less-public arenas.

Blessed are those who showed up.

The ones who did the countless behind-the-scenes work

who made the coffee and baked the cookies;
who folded the bulletins and served as ushers;
who stuffed envelopes and licked stamps;
and did all the other Martha chores
that those in the spotlight never even knew about.

Blessed are those who remained in the shadows.

Those who just couldn’t…

who lived in insurmountable unsafe places;
whose closet doors were nailed shut;
who yearned to live in the light;
who were isolated;
whose participation was a financial contribution
…or a prayer.

Blessed are those who moved on.

Those who needed to be elsewhere

who were battered by the church;
in order to survive;
in order to more fully live;
so that they could find happiness.

Blessed are those who died on the journey.

Those who we knew
and those who we never got a chance to know.

And blessed are YOU.

Those who come next

the leaders (and the followers)
of this generation and beyond,
who find the next liberations
and who work for them to become reality.