Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not dead, just occupied

"With what?" you might ask. Work, church, genealogy, and a conference.

Work. I am teaching two online classes, one of which I have never taught online before. It means writing up and posting lecture notes as well as quizzes and discussion questions. And now there are papers to grade. I am teaching one class in Big Flat City fifty miles south of here that takes me out on Tuesday nights. Papers to grade in that class, too. Then there are the two classes I am teaching here on the home campus. And our institution has been preparing for and going through an accreditation review. And through it all we have been worried about our students and faculty in Kenya. Our two faculty members from the US were able to complete their mission and return safely (praise God), but many of our students have lost family members, houses, and businesses. Our campus has been giving attention to Africa most of January and into this month.

Church. Rather than starting the year by getting all the projects scheduled, our church staff has spent the weeks praying together and listening for God's direction. They have focused on prayer in the worship services, Sunday school, and Wednesday evening services as well. This has been a good time of growing together and remembering why we are called to be the body of Christ.

Genealogy. I've been doing more research on my great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle Epaphroditus Howle who was a plantation manager for Martha Dandridge Custis. After she married George Washington, "Dite" worked for the General. That is, until he got fired by Martha's steward. I am still checking that out. But there is our family name in the Papers of George Washington (vol. 6, 7, and 8).

Conference. At the juncture of the two months, I went to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a gathering of Baptists from a variety of denominations. Those of you who are Baptist will realize that there are many stripes of Baptists and we have been chiefly visible to the 21st century world by our vociferous disagreement with each other. But this conference focused on unity. We reaffirmed the principles which have characterized us through the centuries and encouraged one another to live out the ministries God has given us. If you want to see some mighty fine preaching and some moving testimonies by such Baptist lay people as John Grisham, Bill Clinton, Marian Edelman, and Jimmy Carter, check out the New Baptist Covenant website. One of the main reasons I went was to see and hear my former pastor from San Francisco days, Julie Pennington-Russell. Be sure to check out her sermon--she did a fantastic job. I not only got to spend time with old friends, but met new ones and had an experience of great hope.

So I haven't been idle. And I may not post again for another couple of weeks, but I will be checking on your blogs from time to time.