So, which PowerPivot Tools do I use?

(At the recent National Annual Meeting in Orlando, I was asked this question about 50 times, so I thought maybe it would help if I just posted my answer online for anyone who was not there.)

As you might guess, even though I lead the development of the Commissioner Tools PowerPivot tables, (With some great feedback and assistance from a number of commissioners around the country to help fine tune those tools. Trust me, what we have was always made better by the feedback we received.) as a good “Data Dog,” I also use these tools (or, “eat my own dog food,” if you prefer) in order to provide Commissioner Tools analysis for my Council, my Area, and also to the other Councils in my Area who may not have someone who can complete the data analysis for them. It was important in the design of these tools to ensure we had something for everyone, so we made sure to include statistical, visual, and descriptive analytics, since no one method works best for everyone.

When I am working on my Council (or any other Council I may be assisting), I employ the following tools:

I provide these as both Excel spreadsheets, and as PDF documents, for those who do not have Excel. Remember, the DC Visual Analysis report is really an interactive spreadsheet, and while you can print this report (or make a PDF), it is much better used as a spreadsheet.

Now, this being June, and since we re-register our District & Council volunteers on June 30, I also included the Commissioner Tools “Commissioners without Contacts 2017” report in the information I provide to all the District Commissioners. This can be used to assist them in their deliberations on which commissioners should continue in their roles in the coming year.

So, how long does creating all those reports take? Well, it takes me at most 5 minutes to download the 4 needed reports from Commissioner Tools:

  • Assigned Units
  • District Contact Stats 2017
  • Priority Needs Units
  • Unit Health 2017

Then for the actual loading of data into the PowerPivot tools, about 3 minutes.

So, in less than 10 minutes I have completed the initial analysis of the Commissioner Tools data from the previous month. Then I spend probably another 5-10 minutes reviewing the results, and writing up the email to send the reports out to the Council Commissioner’s Cabinet and the District Commissioners.

So, 15-20 minutes total from start to finish.

Now sure, I have probably done this 100 times or more. So, I am certain I have optimized my workflow. But even if this takes you 30 minutes the first time, you’ll get better the more you do it. The reports will become more familiar, you’ll do some prep so you have your folders for your data and the tools all ready to go their job. But you too can get this process down to a point where it comes naturally.

At the Area-level, I really limit myself to only two reports (as they really are the best for a consolidated view):

  • Unit Contact Analysis
    (to get the complete overview of how each Council is doing)
  • Units Needing Attention
    (so my Area Commissioner can work with the Council Commissioners, when I do this for the Area, I add another “slicer” on the Summary page for the Council Name)

Of course, since I am now wanting to create these two reports in a consolidated fashion for a number of Councils, I also use the “Merge Tools” to help me prepare the data:

  • Merge UH (for Unit Health reports)
  • Merge DCS (for District Contact Stats reports)
  • Merge AU (for Assigned Units reports)
  • Merge PN (for Priority Needs Units reports)

Now yes, this takes longer since I need to download the 4 reports I need from each Council in my Area, then I need to merge them together (which takes seconds), before I can feed them into the PowerPivot tools. But I normally spend about an hour total on my Area (including creating the reports for each Council).

Remember, if you get stuck, don’t call Member Care. Instead, send an email to: and one of us who volunteer to answer those emails will get back to you as quickly as we can.

DCS Thesis Complete

Doctorate of Commissioner Science KnotSo, I have completed the thesis, which summarizes my 4 year project on analyzing the data from the BSA’s Unit Visit Tracking System. The thesis was reviewed by the doctoral committee, and accepted, and I will be receiving my Doctorate of Commissioner Science at the Central Florida Council College of Commissioner Science, on Saturday, April 5th.

It is a bittersweet thing to complete a project in which you have logged more than 500 hours of work. But, with the new Commissioner Tools launching at the National Annual Meeting in Nashville this May, there is, at the moment, no more need for these tools. So, it was just a good a time to complete my thesis. and knock this off my “to do” list.

If you’d like to read the thesis, you may download it here.

Remembrance and Renewal

Remembrance and RenewalDuring this ceremony, we hear the names of our departed Brethren. These individuals are our Brothers with whom we have shared the beauty and grandeur of Masonry. The reading of these names is reminiscent of an ancient Sanskrit injunction: “Lead us from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” As Masons, we are travelling together on a mystic journey, a journey toward greater and greater light. “The Ceremony of Remembrance and Renewal” is a celebration of our Masonic bonds, an opportunity to remember our Brothers who have journeyed on before us, and a time to reflect upon our own individual quest.

In the course of our life journey, we experience cycles of darkness as well as peak experiences of joy and spiritual growth. Symbolically at this time, we move our thoughts from the darkness of winter to the renewal of spring and the promise of more light. The very name Lent is taken from the Latin word which means “to lengthen,” and it is during the period of Lent that the rays of light begin to lengthen until the advent of the Vernal Equinox where day and night are equal.

The Vernal Equinox has been recognized by cultures and religions in all times as very spiritual. For example, the Christians celebrate this season with Lent, Maundy Thursday and Easter, the Iranians with the celebration of Jamshedji Nauroz, and the Jews with the observance Passover.

We might say that the Vernal Equinox is:

  • A time of renewal
  • A time of more light in our life
  • A time of the crossing over from the darkness of winter into the light and renewal of spring
  • A time for extending our vision of universal brotherhood
  • A time to erase the divisions of race, creed, and religious intolerance
  • A time to remember those who have journeyed on to the Celestial Lodge
  • A time to thank the Creator for the men and women in our military who are sacrificing their very lives that we may enjoy the blessing of liberty and justice in our democratic society
  • A time for reflection upon the spiritual truths exemplified in the lives and ideals of the avatars, saviours, sages, and messengers of light of all ages.

Freemasonry provides us with insights into the assimilation of light. Our Craft has been likened to a deep well out of which each Mason draws according to his own understanding and enlightenment. During the “Ceremony of Remembrance and Renewal,” we draw from that well.

The language of Masonry consists of its universal symbols and rituals. A symbol contains the essence of a truth. A universal symbol contains a universal truth. The universal symbols displayed during the “Ceremony of Remembrance and Renewal” include, among others, the Cross, the Star of David, and the Volumes of the Sacred Law. These universal symbols can be viewed on many levels.

For example, the Christian might associate the cross with the crucifixion; the Buddhist with the sacred Boddhi tree under which the Buddha received enlightenment; the psychologist as an archetypical symbol found within the collective unconscious; and the philosopher as a universal metaphor of human perfection to be found within man himself.

The Star of David is also a universal symbol. Culturally, it is synonymous with Judaism. In addition, however, the Star of David is sometimes referred to as the Seal of Solomon. The United States dollar bill has a Star of David etched on one side with 13 points or stars in the form of two intersecting triangles. Symbolically, the triangle is the symbol of Deity found in teachings of Freemasonry as well as in many of the world’s religions. For example, in Christianity the Trinity is represented as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Hinduism, it is represented as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. And in Freemasonry, it is represented by the three greater and lesser lights.

A deeper interpretation of the Star of David is that the bottom triangle symbolizes God within man while the upper triangle represents the Transcendent Deity. Taken together, the two interlaced triangles reveal the union of man with Deity.

Multiple Volumes of the Sacred Law rest on the Masonic altar. They may include the Holy Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads, the Zend-Avesta, or whatever book or books Masons deem to be their sacred scripture. Scripture is the means by which we regulate our life and discover truth. In Freemasonry, we are taught that scripture is given to us by God for the “rule and guide of our faith.”

Freemasons use these universal symbols in the context of their own culture, their own religious preference, and their own self-development. In addition to being universal symbols, the icons noted above are images we individually associate with our respective cultures and personal beliefs. They provide us with insights into ourselves and light for our journey through life.

Accordingly, we, each of us, worships the Creator in our own way, according to the dictates of our own conscience, in our own church, or our own synagogue, or our own mosque, or in our own temple. The ritual exemplified in the “Ceremony of Remembrance and Renewal” allows each person, regardless of religious background and belief, to share, in a broader, more universal context, the spiritual significance of this festive season.

As Masons, we strive to exemplify Masonic light. The “Ceremony of Remembrance and Renewal” provides a moving experience and a symbolic foundation on which to build an expanded, more universal celebration of the grandeur, the beauty, the harmony, and the mystery of life and our Craft. To cite the final words of the ceremony: “I give to you all the hope of spring renewed with its attendant bounty. May Brotherly Love prevail and may we ever be united in every social and moral virtue, cemented in the mystic and universal bond of Masonic Brotherhood.”

[Note: this is not my own writing, but I can no longer find the source document, so I wanted to preserve the excellent content of this article.]

More jQueryMobile

A handy and familiar tool set is an always welcome addition to the arsenal. And I guess that’s the way it is for me and jQueryMobile.

A “quick” (and I do mean quick – less than 4 hours of development time) mobile web site for my Church, combined with the SAAS provided by HandSetDetection has allowed me to have a small, but functional, site that will serve those who access our church website on a mobile device.

Now, we decided that we only wanted to serve this site to folks on smartphones – tablets are served the regular church website – but the system at HandSetDetection allows us to change that as we see fit.

One other “cool” feature, is that we are using the HTML5 audio tag for the Sermons page. That made the issue of serving up the recorded sermons sooooo much easier!

Now – this is a temporary site. Once we move to our new platform, we’ll be using a responsive design, but, even in the short-term, we have realized that over 50% of the devices accessing the church website are mobile devices!

Also, let me throw out some kudos for Iconifier – this one site makes it so very easy to have all the icons you need, not only for your favicon, but also for all the apple-touch icons.

Michigan York Rite Consolidated Calendar

Found another great jQuery plug-in called FullCalendar which I have used to create a “combined” calendar for a number of Masonic groups here in Michigan. (First off, I needed to establish Google Calendar accounts for each group, since none of them seemed to have one, even for publishing to their own members!)

Someone asked me if I created an “app for that” – and as I thought it through, I realized most folks who own smartphones already have a calendar app on their phone – so they don’t need an app – they need a consolidated calendar feed!

So, using the great ScheduleShare service – I was able to create a consolidated feed as well.

Last step was to make the calendar “mobile aware” so that it will adjust to smaller screens automatically – this I have accomplished by making the site “responsive” using Bootstrap.

Sermon for June 30th

I was quite fortunate to be asked to be the “pulpit supply” for my own church, Ann Arbor West Side UMC, on the 5th Sunday of June. This just happened to be the Sunday between our last Pastor’s final sermon, and our new Pastor’s first sermon … kind of like being a MLB middle-relief pitcher.

The scripture passages associated with the sermon are as follows:
Luke 9:51-52
Luke 15:1-2

The Journey

walking with jesus

Listen to the sermon on streaming media.     Download the sermon audio.

Will you pray with me?
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 CEB)

Today we embark upon a journey, retracing the footsteps of Jesus, as he was heading from Galilee, in the north, to Jerusalem in the south.

As we begin this journey, it is important to note that, Jesus spent most of his life in Galilee, and most of his ministry happened there, Matthew and Mark’s gospels take place almost entirely in the Galilee region, and it’s only here in Luke Chapter 9 verse 51, that Jesus, “sets his face resolutely toward Jerusalem.” This is a turning point in Luke’s gospel and Luke thinks this is so important; he devotes 10 of his 24 chapters, to the journey to Jerusalem.

Keep in mind – Jesus knows, that when he arrives in Jerusalem, he’ll be crucified. Jesus could have avoided crucifixion by staying in Galilee. But Jesus “sets his face resolutely toward Jerusalem,” he’s on a mission; he’s a man who has three months to live.

Now, if you had three months to live, what would you do with that time?

What conversations would you have?

Where would you make sure you went?

What kinds of things would you do?

Jesus has three months to live, he knows this, his predicts this to his disciples again and again, “I’m going to Jerusalem, and I’ll be tortured and then crucified.” And yet, they don’t believe him! He has three months to live – what you’re about to see in today is what Jesus chooses to do with the last three months of his life.

So we are going to ask these three questions today.

The first is, “What kind of King is this?”

The second question we’re going to answer, “What kind of kingdom does he rule over?”

And the last question is, “What does he expect of his subjects?”

Everything that we read in the Gospels is meant to answer these three questions.

Today, we will try and answer these questions, by looking at the journey Jesus makes from Galilee to Jericho.

The journey should have taken three days, it’s about 76 miles. But instead, it took Jesus three months. This is because he had planned when he would enter Jerusalem to die. He left three months early, so that he could do the things we’re going to talk about today. He wants to arrive in Jerusalem at the Passover. So, three months before the Passover, he begins his Journey to Jerusalem.

He goes straight into Samaria. Now keep in mind, in his day, a good Jew would do anything to avoid going into Samaria, but Jesus takes the Ridge Road and goes straight into Samaria, and he offers the Samaritans the gifts of the Kingdom of God.

In fact he sends his disciples ahead of him, and he says, “Go, prepare the way. Go, heal the sick, and cast out the demons, and preach to the people that, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” And, even though they rejected his disciples, he went about ministering to them.

He disagreed with them theologically since, as Pastor Tracy told us, they have inter-married with non-Jews and adopted their religious customs so they did not practice a pure form of Judaism, but he doesn’t look at the theological differences.

They have mistreated one another, but he doesn’t hold the laws against them, he says these are the children of God. God cares about the Samaritans, so I will care about them, I will love them, and offer them the grace of God.

I know you might not quite get it yet, until you start thinking about it from this perspective … who are the Samaritans in my life?

If you had lived during the American Civil War, and you live in the South, who are the Samaritans? … … The north.

If you lived in Israel today as a Jew, who are the Samaritans? … … The Palestinians.

If you are a staunch Republican, who are the Samaritans? … … The Democrats.

If you’re a flaming liberal, who are the Samaritans? … … It’s all those dreaded conservatives.

Maybe it’s not even our theological or political differences; maybe, it’s the way that they have hurt us. They have said things to us, and done things and you know what … if they are going to be in heaven, I’m not sure I want to be there.

That’s the sort of feeling that we have.

I’m curious, who are your Samaritans?

Who are the people you feel so strongly about, you can’t hardly stand the thought of being together in the same room with them, so suspicious of them, it’s hard for you to even think positive thoughts about them.

Jesus went to them.

Jesus went to them to invite them to be part of the Kingdom.

And doubt not, they will be in the Kingdom, these people.

Tell me, if you had three months to live, could you; would you; find a way to make your peace with these “Samaritans” in your life? Or, as Pastor Tracy said, will you try and use this as your “loophole?”

It’s interesting, he has three months to live, and on the journey, he has things he must do, he has people to see, and places to go, and yet he gets interrupted constantly by people who want something from him.

But Jesus always stops for the interruption.

This is because; he recognizes that, the interruption, is where God is most profoundly at work.

Jesus stops, for the man who can’t speak. And he touches him, and suddenly the man can speak for the first time in his life.

Jesus is preaching in a synagogue, and while he’s preaching, a women walks in the back of the room, and she’s hunched over, like this (demonstrate). And he stops his sermon. And he walks over to this woman, all eyes are upon him, and he touches her, on the back. And then to everyone’s amazement, she begins to stand up straight (demonstrate), and the pain that she has lived with for 18 years is gone, and she begins to raise her hands and shout, “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord! I am well.”

He is in the home of a Pharisee, eating supper on the Sabbath, after worship, with all these prominent people from the town who are present. When, there’s a knock on the door, and the man who is standing at the door, his skin is stretched so taught, it’s about to burst, it’s swollen with what was called dropsy, fluids underneath the surface of the skin. This man is in such pain, he can hardly stand it, his body is on fire. And while this man stands at the door, Jesus looks at his host, and he says, “Is it lawful for me to heal on the Sabbath, Rabbi?”

And the Rabbi is not going to answer; he’s gritting his teeth, wondering why this man dares show up and interrupt his dinner.

And Jesus walks to the door, and he touches the man, and as they watch, they can see the swelling immediately go down. And the man is made well.

Jesus isn’t going to wait until the day after the Sabbath in order to heal the man; this man is in pain now! He can, and will, do something – and he will do it … now.

There are 10 lepers that are walking along in a village, somewhere in Samaria, and as Jesus is walking along on the other side of the street, they shout out, “Jesus, son of Nazareth, can you help us?” He doesn’t say no I’m busy; I’m sorry, maybe check with me tomorrow. He stops … and he finds out that they are lepers.

Lepers are isolated and live in their own colonies, and no one has anything to do with lepers … except Jesus.

So, Jesus heals the lepers. Now you remember, 9 of the lepers go about their business, only 1 of them comes back to thank Jesus for what had happened.

And that one leper, Jesus says, happened to be a Samaritan.

So these are the things that Jesus is doing and the people he’s associating with. But, he’s not just associating with the sick, and the Samaritans, and the lepers. He also associates with the “ordinary people” in his day.

He only has supper with the Pharisees twice, and he goes to the synagogue on a regular basis, but, the thing is, if you watch him carefully, he’s constantly irritated with these religious people.

He’s frustrated with them, because the religious people in Jesus’ day were just not “getting it.”

He heals the woman who was bent over for 18 years, and you know what happens right after that?

The leader of the synagogue stands up and says, “If you’re sick, don’t come here on the Sabbath! Don’t come to the synagogue to be healed.”

And the Pharisee who is sitting there when the man with dropsy comes to the door, all he can think of is, what is this man doing, wanting to be healed on the Sabbath?

And when Jesus is eating with another Pharisee, here this Pharisee is eating with the “Son of God,” all he can think of, is that Jesus did not wash his hands in the ceremonially appropriate way.

It really all comes out in Luke, Chapter 15, verses 1 and 2, where we read these words, “All the tax collectors and sinners where coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the Scribes were grumbling saying, this fellow welcome sinners and he eats with them.”

Think about this, Jesus, surrounded by people who don’t go to synagogue, aren’t a part of the temple, they’re sinners, they’re not “pure.”

And wouldn’t you think, that if you were a Rabbi, or a Pharisee, you’d go, “Look at all the people coming here to hear Jesus preach the good news!”

Don’t you think you’d be excited about that?

Except, they weren’t excited about it.

Because their understanding of holiness was that they were to separate themselves from people like that.

They had a certain way of making “those people” feel.

You know what that’s like, maybe you’ve done it to other people, or other people have done it to you.

That’s what the Pharisees thought that being religious and pious was all about … which made Jesus crazy, because, who most needed someone to love them back into God’s Kingdom, except for the sinners and the tax collectors.

They needed people that would make them feel comfortable in their own skin. Take them as they were, and then invite them to be part of a journey, and show them something so compelling that they could not resist; God’s grace.

That’s what Jesus did. These sinners and tax collectors, they felt comfortable with Jesus. Jesus made them want to be more than they were.

Let’s look at the things that Jesus taught. And there were so many wonderful things that he taught while he was on this journey, in fact, in Luke’s gospel you’ll find some of your favorite stories.

As he’s travelling through Samaria, one of the places that he goes is the home of Mary and Martha.

Mary and Martha are two sisters, and Jesus shows up at the house of these two women. That’s a very unorthodox thing for a man to do. Men didn’t go into the house of a woman, and grace them in this way with their presence; women were property in 1st Century Palestine.

Jesus goes to teach there, and there’s a whole crowd of people who gather around, and come and just sit in the house, and Martha does exactly what a woman is supposed to do. She takes her place in the kitchen. She’s preparing hors d’oeuvres, cookies, lemonade, and tea. And all of these people are sitting there listening to Jesus, hanging on his words, and Martha’s sister, Mary, where is she? Not in the kitchen, she’s at the feet of Jesus.

Whenever someone sits at the feet of a Master, they are a disciple.

Mary is taking the part of the disciple.

Martha’s in the kitchen, she’s furious. Doesn’t my sister know that women don’t belong at the feet of the Master? Doesn’t she understand she should be in here helping! And she’s getting more and more angry all the time.

And you’ve pictured this story … where’s she’s banging the pots and pans against one another. You know, trying to get Mary’s attention.

Finally, Martha’s so upset, she comes and she interrupts Jesus message, and she says, “Jesus, would you please tell my sister to get her fanny in the kitchen, because I can’t do all this by myself.”

And Jesus looks at Martha and says, “Martha, Martha, you’re worried about so many things, and Mary, she has chosen the better part. And that won’t be taken away from her.”

Now, what just happened there?

Jesus just obliterated the social norms. He’s changing the role that women might play in society and in his Kingdom, when he’s allowing Mary to be one of his disciples, to sit at his feet.

And, you know, it’s not just Mary, there is the woman who weeps at his feet. There is the woman who comes and anoints him with oil. There is the woman who is a Samaritan who’s had 5 husbands, and now is divorced and living with yet another man, who he calls to be the missionary to the Samaritans. There’s Mary Magdalene, who acts as one of his disciples, who is the first one who sees Jesus raised from the dead, and becomes the first one who proclaims the resurrection.

Jesus obliterates the social norms of his time, and how grateful I am as the father of a daughter, and partners with a wonderful woman, that Jesus said that a daughter, a woman, can sit at his feet, and be his disciple.

What kind of King is this?

And what does this tell you about his Kingdom, for men, and for women, and their roles? And what does this tell you about your role as one of his subjects?

Paul caught it when he wrote in Galatians 3:28, “In Christ there is neither Jew, nor Greek;
slave, nor free;
male, nor female;
for all are one in Him.”

Ok, Jesus finally makes it to Jericho; this is where we will end today.

He arrives in Jericho, sixteen miles from Jerusalem. He walks into the city; there are thousands of people who have come out to see Jesus. He is the wonder worker, maybe he’s the Messiah, and everybody wants to catch of glimpse of him.

And while he’s walking into the town, there’s one man who’s intent upon seeing him. This man has a hole in his heart so big; you could drive a truck through it. He’s the wealthiest man in town. He’s the chief tax collector, his name is what? … …  Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus because there is something missing in his life, in spite of having everything money can buy. And so Zacchaeus is trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but, Luke tells us, Zacchaeus is short. He can’t even see over the crowds.

So, he runs to the other end of town, there’s a giant sycamore tree there, and he scurries up the sycamore tree. And he’s sitting there, just so he can see Jesus. And, Jesus, much to his surprise, begins to walk straight towards the tree. And his heart begins to beat faster and faster as Jesus gets closer, and finally Jesus stops and he looks up in the tree and he says, “Zacchaeus, come down from there, for I intend to spend the evening at your house tonight.”

You could hear an audible gasp from the crowd.

Keep this in mind. This is the last night of Jesus’ life outside of Jerusalem. He’s going to go over the Mount of Olives the next day, and he’s going to go there to die!

And Jesus chooses to spend the last night outside of Jerusalem, in the home of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, the chief sinner of the town.

I want you to know that when Zacchaeus met Jesus, Jesus conquered Rome and Jericho, because at that moment, there was a radical conversion that happened in Zacchaeus’ heart.

Rome’s representative was won over, not by a sword, but by love that day in Jericho. From that time forward the poor would be fed in Jericho, by the one who had been the Roman tax collector. And justice was brought for all the people, and that, because of the love of Christ.

What kind of King was he? He was the kind of King who seeks out sinners, Samaritans, and misfits to be his followers. He’s the one who has compassion for the sick, the second class, and the poor.

What kind of kingdom does he lead? Not a Kingdom with a sword, not a Kingdom in a place, but a Kingdom that’s in our hearts – the hearts of all who are his followers, his subjects, and who call him their King.

And what does he expect of us? That we live humbly, we love God, we care for the poor, and for those who are in need, that we live our lives in such a way, that lost sheep are brought back to the fold.

That’s what we learned about Jesus in his journey today.

Let us pray.


O God how grateful we are that you sent Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to call us, a congregation of misfits, and sinners, and Samaritans.

Help us to walk humbly before you.

Help us to love you with all our heart, help us to love our neighbor, and to see those around us in need, as our neighbor.

Help us to seek to serve you radically, with all that’s within us.

And make us, O God, your subjects.

Allow us to be part of that Kingdom that knows no boundary, that’s timeless, and ageless.

We offer ourselves to you.

We ask these things in Jesus’ name.


Long time, no post

So, I have been quiet lately. But things have been very busy for me.

Back in February, I started the process of becoming a Certified Lay Servant, and a Lay Speaker, once again. I was a Certified Lay Speaker from 1981 – 1995, and stopped when my wife became pregnant with our daughter (since I did a lot of “pulpit supply” and was rarely home on weekends).

Well, 18 years have passed, and the requirements for a Lay Speaker changed effective January 1, 2013! So, I have been diligently studying and taking the 6 advanced lay servant courses required to become a Lay Speaker (once again):
– Go Preach (completed March 2nd)
– Leading Prayer (scheduled for early June)
– Leading Worship
– Rediscovering your Spiritual Gifts (completed April 27th)
– Life Together in the United Methodist Connection (which is on Church Polity) (completed May 5th)
– Living our United Methodist Beliefs (completed May 5th)

(In summary: 4 completed, 1 scheduled, and 1 yet to schedule)

In addition, I have also completed the following advanced lay servant classes, that are not part of the Lay Speaker series:
– Come to the Table (which examines This Holy Mystery – the new Communion document for the church) (completed February 17th)
– Growing Spiritually Through Daily Discipline (completed May 4th)

Plus, I have read 17 18 books on various Lay Speaker topics ranging from text for the above classes, to extra reading from Andy Stanley, Adam Hamilton, St John of the Cross, Rick Warren, Pope Benedict XVI, and United Methodist Bishop Jack Hagiya.

So, I have been busy … just in a different way! But it has all been a great learning experience.