From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Welcome

Welcome to my blog! There’s both personal and theological stuff here as well as items related to my church: St. Paul’s UCC in Freeburg, IL. I’ve been exploring, and embracing, the Calvinistic school of Christian thought, and am sharing that on this blog. You’re welcome to add your responses – they can’t be any more foolish than what I’ve posted! So come back often and join the conversation!

23 responses

  1. Teresa

    Love it! Do you have time for this?

    March 1, 2008 at 7:15 pm

  2. Well it will be interesting to see how my time works – I spend too much time now on the computer (Ebay, “news-that’snot-really-news”, etc.) so I’m thinking if I’m going to be at this screen, why not do something that encourages communication with STP people?

    March 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

  3. margie

    I love it so far! Good idea Earl. Looking forward to it.

    March 1, 2008 at 9:58 pm

  4. margie

    Looks like the times may be off by several hours…

    March 1, 2008 at 9:59 pm

  5. Very good idea! I look forward to learning more about your thougths on your sermons and sharing with our church family . Debbie

    March 3, 2008 at 12:55 pm

  6. TJ

    I like it! It gives you another outlet to reach out to the masses.

    March 6, 2008 at 7:50 am

  7. Joseph Kern

    I love this blog pastor earl. I think this will be so cool for the viewers. You are doing great keep up the great work (I think you do have time for this i am ignoring all the comments) No offense guys!!

    March 18, 2008 at 10:15 pm

  8. Thanks, mom! 🙂 I’m looking forward, after Easter when things have slowed down a little, to reading more of folks’ comments here. So come one back!

    March 19, 2008 at 5:34 am

  9. Jason Gregory

    I have visited your new blog! It seems fun and should be quite informative. I love attending your services on Sundays and you can definitely plan on seeing me every sunday until my departure for boot camp. I definitely appreciate you taking me under your wing the way you have and offering me friendship. My journey away from God was a dark and dreary one, and I am appreciative of your leadership taking me back to Him. It is greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten!

    March 21, 2008 at 9:52 am

  10. Hi Jason,
    I was priveledged to meet you several years ago at church and then when we would bump into each other at church or around town. You are a fine young man: sweet, generous, and thoughtful, and I want you to know how proud I am of you for enlisting in the military. I know you will serve with honor and dignity, through your love of country and of God.
    I will be praying for you and please let us, St. Paul’s members and Rev. Earl, know your address wherever you are serving. May God Bless you with strength and determination to be the best that you can be for your own bright future, your country and in your service to God!
    Your friend in Christ, Debbie Ross

    March 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

  11. Deanne

    LOVE the blog. Would love to see our youth get out here and share some questions and thoughts on their vision of where we are today and where we need to head. I am SO impressed by the participation and true commitment of our youth – in particular the Sr. Youth group. Any plans to ‘market’ the blog anymore at church (other than the mention in Scope)? Or perhaps extend the idea to be linked from the church website?

    April 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm

  12. How tech-friendly is this?! I can see Pastor Earl now, sitting in the library working feverishly on his blog… 🙂 Happy for future reading!

    September 22, 2008 at 7:48 pm

  13. Hi Virginia! Yeah, that’s me in the back room, smoke filled (pipe smoker that is, English blend) and book lined, up at all hours.

    September 23, 2008 at 4:36 am

  14. Carol Casperson

    Our anniversary has been a growing experience for all of us at St. Paul’s. It has been a lot of work for some more than others. I think it has brought us together for a unitfied endeavor and has been good for our town and church community.

    November 11, 2008 at 6:30 pm

  15. Your thoughts are very well made, Carol! I hadn’t thought of that but, yes, it was unifying for our church body and community. Debbie

    November 12, 2008 at 9:44 am

  16. Hello friends,

    I found this site while I was on the Welcoming and Faithful website. I’m a member of a UCC in Saint Louis County. The push by the UCC national of abortion and the acceptance of homosexual acts are to me horrifying.

    Recently my church voted in a very liberal associate minister. This minister openly supports abortion rights and gay marriage. When I voiced by objections in writing and in person to church board members I received a combination of open acceptance to the national UCC views and from others the opinion of it is wrong but what can we do ( we don’t want to upset anyone).

    My view is that we can stop them and throw it right back at them. After all don’t they get there power from the UCC across the county?

    I feel I am a voice in the forest. Does anyone have advice on how I can proceed?

    Sincerely,
    Matt

    P.S.
    Soon to be president Obama vowed in front of Planned Parenthood to sign FOCA if passed by congress. Please read the FOCA bill.

    January 14, 2009 at 11:15 pm

  17. Hi Matt –
    Thanks for chiming in on my blog! While I have many thoughts in response to your post, I want to hold back on them for a little while, to give other folks time to respond – though right now I don’t think there are all that many folks who post here!

    For now, I’ll just say that you’re not alone. Many of us in the UCC, who have stayed in over these last tumultuous years, are uncomfortable but sense that this is where God wants us to be.

    I wonder, though, what you mean by “we can stop them and throw it right back at them.”?

    More later, looking forward to hearing more from you.

    Earl

    January 15, 2009 at 9:25 am

  18. revearl,

    When I write “we can stop them and throw it right back at them” I mean when UCC national posts abortion organizations on their website and promote abortion and homosexual acceptance at the National Youth Event we can take their effort and turn it back at them. Tell them via letters, withholding of funds, refusing to accept the NYE as is, (I am open for more ideas).

    What we mustn’t do is nothing. Nothing gets you to the point were church members say “it’s bad but its been going that way for a long time. What can we do?” That is a sign that those that have been doing bad are very comfortable in there actions. When you make them give answers for their actions they become uncomfortable and less free to do as they please.

    Matt

    January 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm

  19. Hi Matt,
    I was just like you in intensity and horror when I discovered what UCC had become in 2005 with their acceptance of Same Sex Marriage. I had no clue that the denomination had so drastically changed from my E&R roots to its very progressive agenda. I don’t know how I didn’t realize what had transpired over the years, but I and 99% of our congregation were in la-la land I guess.
    I was very angry and realized our denomination had been hijacked by liberals and free thinkers. I wanted our St. Paul’s church to leave UCC! I was on a mission to discover just what had been happening over the past 50 years and why we didn’t know it!!!! I spent hour upon hour researching the UCC archives for information and it was totally shocking.
    This crisis brought me to my knees in despair! However, it also sent me on an intense and passionate search for biblical truth through the study of scripture and reading of books by John Piper, Charles Stanley, RC Sproul, Johnathan Edwards, Calvin, Luther,…I took my faith for granted and thought I knew all I needed to know prior to all of this. I now understand that God is well aware of what is happening in the UCC denomination and every other denomination in the country, in fact, all that is happening in our denomination was designed by God for His good purpose. It sure put me on a wonderful path with the help of the Holy Spirit!
    You are in a very difficult position because you are a member of a UCC church that is very liberal and I am a member of a UCC church that is 94% conservative (my persoanl estimation) with an awesome bible preaching minister who stands firm on scripture in Spirit and Truth!
    It was no accident you found us in the Faithful and Welcoming website! How far of a drive is it from where you are to Freeburg? Would love to meet you and have you join us! I will keep you in my prayers. Pastor Earl will have wiser thoughts to share!

    January 15, 2009 at 11:23 pm

  20. Debbie,

    Thank you for your response.

    The sad thing is that I don’t believe the majority of my church really accepts what is happening. Possibly they simply don’t think or know where to begin to stop it. I must say that my deepest feelings of abandonment came at meetings in which I expected spontaneous support when I then received nothing. While saying this there is one person that called me in support after sending letters. Support is there! Yet it is quiet, cautious, and doesn’t want to offend.

    I want to do nothing that splits my church, any other church or the denomination. But I do believe that the simple act of saying “no” is a very powerful act. The “no” though must be made collectively and very clearly.

    How this should or could be done? — again I’m open for options.

    Your friend,

    Mattt

    January 17, 2009 at 12:05 am

  21. Hi Matt –

    There’s just a whole lot that could be said, but I want to try to compact it all down to a few points. First, let me say I hear you. I know what it is to feel like the odd man out, wondering what’s wrong with everyone else, or what’s wrong with me – expecting support and receiving nothing. You are not alone in that! And I’m glad to hear you say you don’t want to do anything to split the church. Sometimes people who are hurt want to strike back, and that’s just not a godly motive.

    Secondly, the important thing to seek is not what the denomination wants, or what the pastor wants, or even what you want, but what God wants. That often takes some time to discern. I’ve come to believe that God is at work in EVERY thing for the good of those who trust him. So the question to ask is “What is God showing me here? What can I learn in this? How can this work for my good?” In my case, going against the denominational grain on “gay marriage” showed me how weak I really am, how little I really knew of theology and the scripture. So I went from being angry to being humbled, something I now see God wanted in my life.

    Oh there’s so much more, Matt, but let me boil things down to a few practical points:

    1 – Take some time to get to know your new pastor. Take him or her to lunch (not that I’m biased about pastors & free lunches!) and get to know him or her as a person. It’s so easy to write each other off with labels or by taking sides on “issues” instead of being willing to know and be known as finite human beings.

    2 – Poke around the F&W website, the UCC forums, the UCCTruths board to get more contact with people who’ve been where you are.

    3 – In all this, whether you ultimately decide to go or to stay, to oppose or support, the point is to draw closer to God, to become a more faithful witness. Let your passion drive you deeper into the Word, closer in your walk. If that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t really matter ultimately what you do.

    4 – Finally, having said all this, I don’t think a blog is a good place to get pastoral care. Nor do I want this blog to turn into a political issue oriented battleground. I’ve had enough of that on other boards. So I encourage you, Matt, to find face to face support. There are people our there who sympathize and have been where you are. Seek and you’ll find! You may be surprised to find where they are, and how God can work in quite unexpected ways.

    Earl

    January 17, 2009 at 10:17 am

  22. Thanks Pastor Earl!

    Matt

    January 19, 2009 at 9:43 pm

  23. Dale

    Hi Matt,
    I identify with you about being in the minority. I think the important thing was expressed by Earl yesterday in his sermon. “What do we really need?” What do we really need? How do we see the face of God before us? I was so moved by yesterday’s sermon that I am stealing a few moments from work. I think the important thing is to understand that God is before us and once we feel that how do we help others and ourselves experience that more? Wow! To me and why I am in the minority here; those issues are pretty trival and we are missing so much more of a relationship to God when we let ourselves get side tracked by these issues. There is so much greater out / inside to connect with and there is such joy and peace to connect with. The important thing is to live your life as Christ would and to be aware of the spirit’s presence in you… right now. To me those opinion differences fade away, its not for us to judge when we focus on What we need. I have been in this congregation for years and still actively retain friendships with those of a different pursuasion (who would agree with you) than me. Earl does not preach, as for as I can discern, on those opinions. His messages take a higher and I feel scripturally based thought. Here we all try to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.
    Dale

    February 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

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