Excite, Encourage & Empower Disciples For Christ
This is our mission at Griffith First United Methodist!
We would like to welcome any to the house of God. We open our arms to those who thirst for God’s word and guidance. Wherever you are on God’s path, we welcome you to this church with open arms and fellowship. We are located on Cline Avenue across from Strack’s in Griffith.
Again, thank you for visiting our website. We look forward to meeting you soon!
I’ve had the question come up about why I wear a clerical collar when I’m leading in worship and also when I go to see someone in the hospital or a nursing home. So I thought I’d answer that here to reach as many people as possible all at once.
When I was actively going to a spiritual director who was a Roman Catholic priest he advised me to wear the collar every day. He said it was a witness to people around me and would cause them to automatically think of God and the Church.
I’ve had a tendency for “high church” and a love for all things liturgical my entire ministry, so it was natural for me to be drawn towards wearing the clerical collar.
I’ve also always embraced the Anglican side of the United Methodist Church. The founders of the Methodist Movement, John and Charles Wesley, were both priests in the Church of England, and in fact never left that church to join the Methodist Episcopal Church (one of the forerunner churches that eventually became the United Methodist Church). A few years ago I wore the collar every day, but most recently switched to only wearing it in worship or visitation settings. The effect has been interesting and backs up exactly what Fr. Bill told me twenty-five years ago.
I have had quite a few conversations with unchurched people that I never would have had had I not been wearing the collar. I’ve had people I didn’t know ask me to pray for them, which I did on the spot.
I’ve found it most helpful to wear the clerical collar when I go to a hospital. No one ever asks me what I’m doing there; it gives me instant access to patients just by entering the room. Yes, I sometimes am called Father by staff or people I pass in the hall or the parking lot (especially in the Catholic hospitals). I’ve decided not to correct them anymore. I just smile and say hello back.
When guests come to the church, no one has to ask, “Which person is the pastor?” I’m instantly identifiable and can greet guests more easily.
I’ve also found that wearing the clerical collar is not only a witness to other people, but is a witness to me. It is a constant reminder wherever I am that I am representing Jesus and the Church and my words and actions will either reflect Jesus well or not. I can sometimes “excuse” myself if I’m wearing “civvies” if I get upset at the guy cutting me off in traffic or some other annoyance. But if I’m wearing the collar, I have a red alert that goes off in my head reminding me that when people see me, they do think of God or the Church. And how I act may very well influence what they think of either or both.
My humorous side also enjoys being out with Ellen when I’m wearing the clerical collar. It’s fun to see people look at us and know they’re wondering what’s going on. Of course, I know that Lutheran, Episcopalian, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox (whose priests have started to wear the collar), some United Methodist, and many other clergy wear the collar and don’t have an official discipline of clergy celibacy, but to the average person on the street, it gives them something to think about.
I’ve thought through the common objections that some clergy and laity have about the clerical collar and how valid those objections are:
Some people have a negative reaction to clericals.
I’ve heard this, but have never experienced it. In fact, as I mentioned above, I’ve had many more people say hello to me or start up conversations with me than ever would have happened had I been wearing “street clothes.” I’ve actually found the exact opposite reaction from people.
A clerical collar makes me look Catholic.
As I said, I have had a few people address me as Father, but in actuality the clergy shirt as we know it today was invented by the Rev. Dr. Donald McLeod who was a priest in the Church of Scotland. In other words the clerical collar is Protestant in origin. The Roman Catholic Church didn’t prescribe it for their priests until the 19th Century. So technically it makes their priests look Protestant. To be honest, I am completely post-Protestant and would love to find another word to describe non-Roman Catholics as the issues that gave rise to the Protestant Reformation are 500 years old and are no longer valid. What exactly are we protesting today?
More often than not and to avoid the confusion with my Roman Catholic brothers, I generally wear the Anglican collar (the kind worn by Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Lutherans) with a band going all the way around my neck (the British refer to this as the “dog collar”) rather than the Roman collar or tab where only a small square of white is seen out of a black (or other color) collar.
The truth is those who wear the collar would look Catholic around Catholics, Anglican around Anglicans, Lutheran around Lutherans, and in many cases (such as in the U.K.) Methodist around the Methodists, etc. In a post-denominational world, it says to most people exactly what it should say; it identifies me instantly as a clergy person. Period.
The clerical collar is a uniform in the same way that a police uniform identifies a police officer or a military uniform identifies a person in the armed forces or scrubs identify a doctor or a nurse or another medical professional. People who work at restaurants and many retail stores wear uniforms. Why can’t clergy?
So many people wear cowboy/girl clothes or all black or tattoo and pierce themselves in an attempt to “wear their stories.” For me it’s my preferred way to wear God’s story.
I’m finding, it opens far more doors of opportunity than I could have imagined. It also provides a helpful reminder to me and a witness for Christ and his Church to others.
I’ve had some people ask about my film project, which I’m more than happy to talk about. It’s a comedy super hero series called Bugman. It follows the adventures of Bugman and his sidekick Lady Bug (who are really billionaire Reginald Payne and his youthful cousin Anna Danville) as they protect Metro City from a variety of super villains. They are later joined by another hero called Firefly (who is really former rock star Amy St. James). The project began 17 years ago as a fundraiser for starting a junior high youth group. I wrote, directed, and then we sold the full-length feature movie that grew into 2 full-length sequels and several shorter episodes. The series is a parody of comic books, super heroes, and the movie serials of the 1930’s and 40’s and is heavily influenced by the 1966-69 Batman TV series.
This has since become my hobby (one of them anyway), and I’m happy to have anyone involved with it who would like to be.
I’m looking for the cast, which has both guy and girl parts, basically between 5th and 12th grade (give or take on either end). I also would need some adults for various behind the scenes help.
My hope would be to start with the Trilogy (the first 3 full-length features) and move on from there.
After each video is filmed and edited, we’d have a “Premier Party” to see it, and copies would be available on DVD.
If you would like more information or if you, or someone you know, would be interested in joining the project, feel free to let me know.
“This is a day of new beginnings,/ time to remember and move on,/ time to believe what love is bringing,/ laying to rest the pain that’s gone.”
So says the hymn. New beginnings carry within them excitement, anticipation, fear, grief, uncertainty, anxiety, but maybe most of all hope. I know I’m feeling all of those emotions and many more. I’m certain many of you are feeling them too.
Change is never easy. But change is essential if we are to keep moving along the path of following Jesus. The good news is that there are two seemingly opposite things about Jesus: He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and he is fresh every morning.
As I have prepared to come among you and be your pastor, I have been deeply thankful for the good work your previous pastor, Dr. Randy McQueen, has done. So much of what he’s done has set the stage for where I believe God is leading me and us together as we seek to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.
I’m reminded of the words of St. Paul: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:6-11).
Over the next several weeks I will be meeting with you in cottage meetings to help us get acquainted and hear our dreams for the future of Griffith First Church. One of the questions I will ask is “What will it look like for us to do great things for God?” Be thinking about that question. I believe that God is going to do great things in this time of new beginnings—building on what has been done and going on to the next level but always remembering that no matter what else happens, Jesus Christ is our foundation.
The fourth verse of that hymn says it best: “Christ is alive, and goes before us/ to show and share what love can do./ This is a day of new beginnings;/ our God is making all things new.”