Common Questions

Sunday, through my worship leadership, I share my personal testimony, my theological questions and conclusions, and my prayers. Much of who I am is on stage for public consumption. Yet, for all that transparency, much of ministry remains hidden and undiscussed. This site is a place for some of that to become visible.

What religion are you?

I am a Christian. I am authorized for ministry by the United Church of Christ and presently serve The Plymouth Church in Framingham, MA. In a wonderful contradiction, my denomination was formed in 1957 years old while the congregation I serve was founded in 1701! Recognizing that most things are more complex than the bumper-sticker, I say I am part of a "progressive, protestant, Christian" church.

Are you a priest?

No, I am a pastor. A priest stands between you and God, mediating that relationship. A priest talks to God on your behalf. A pastor stands beside you, accompanying you on the journey, as you converse with God directly. Echoing the image of a shepherd, a pastor guides and encourages "the flock" toward lush fields and still water.

Oh, like Unitarian?

Well, kinda. Much like the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association is a merger of two theological traditions--unitarianism and universalism. Universalists believe in universal salvation, that everyone goes to heaven. Unitarians are Christians who believe the Jesus was special, but not uniquely divine. They believe in one God, not a Trinity of Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. (Uni=one.) I believe in Jesus was and is divine (whatever that might mean) and that everyone is always loved by God. So you could say, I am a Trinitarian Universalist.

Do you work full time?

Yes. There is no typical week, per se. Between Sundays, I meet with various groups of the church, visit with individuals, study, teach, plan and more. If I'm not careful my responsibilities carry me well over "full-time." Unless I'm on vacation, I'm available 24-7 for emergencies.

Can you... do that?

Yes. Ministers are not any different than anyone else. I am a human being like you. I love. I grieve. I get sick. I have brilliant ideas and bad moods. Occasionally, when I stub my toe, I swear. Sometimes not only when I stub my toe. I make mistakes. Not that swearing is a mistake. Well, it can be. While I do hold clergy to a higher standard of behavior, I expect as much from every person as I do from myself. I love a good joke and believe laughter is good medicine. As Anne Lamott says, Laughter is carbonated holiness.

Did you go to school?

Yes. I have a Bachelors from Vassar College and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. In college, I studied animal behavior in the Psychology Department. As a scientist, I learned the application of behavioral conditioning. In seminary, I studied a little of a lot of subjects--theology, psychology, literature, history, ethics, and management. As a generalist pastor, I consider myself a "jack of all trades, master of none." (And, yes, animal behavior has been helpful insight for ministry!)

Ministry is both calling and profession.

In the United Church of Christ, we say that clergy are set apart for a ministry of Word and Sacrament. Pastors are selected and blessed ("called") by the people to serve in a special role. We are not set above or below, but apart. In this way, I am both within the community but also separated.

Ministry is a profession, with clearly prescribed standards of practice and institutions of accountability. Sure, I could have gone online and paid $30 to be ordained. But, I believe that when churches hire a pastor, they should respect the power that comes with the office: the trust, the respect, the influence.

Open and Affirming & Anti-Racist

When a congregation declares that it is Open and Affirming, that means it has taken time in study and reflection - and voted - to celebrate and welcome LGBTQAI+2S persons fully into the life and ministry of the church. When The Plymouth Church in Framingham wrote their Covenant, it made logical sense that this extravagant welcome and radical hospitality should be extended to all God's children. Since then, the congregation has recognized the value and the necessity of doing intentional anti-racis work to confront the evil of white supremacy in the United States.

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required;

and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. Luke 12:48

Colleagues and I joke that we would quickly and readily do anything other than ministry, if only we had any other skills or interests. The truth is, I love ministry. Every day, I am awed by the privilege to serve God in this capacity. It is an honor to be invited into people's lives - in the ordinary and the extraordinary.