Thinking Together Column 1/12/2016

The ice and cold did not deter our community or the Spirit from showing up on Baptism of the Lord Sunday. It was a sacred morning as people filed by the basin of water to make a renewal of their baptism vows.

You may be interested to know that even though the staff and I attend all three Sunday services, it is not repetitious. Each service has its moment of grace—a look from someone for whom the light bulb of understanding has come on, a unique prayer, a fresh hearing of the text. The name for this is God.


I am pleased with the proposed staff realignment and hope you are able to participate in the conversation and vote. The proposal allows our pastors to use their best gifts for the greatest needs.

There is an incorrect perception that the proposal reduces the number of hours given to Youth Ministry—probably because Carol is so effective and dedicated it appears that she works full-time, in which case a proposed 25 hour per week Youth Minister would be a step-down.

In fact, Carol works 30 hours per week, 9 hours of which are spent on other pastoral tasks. So, we are going from (on average) 21 hours per week to 25 hours per week… PLUS the proposal keeps Carol in the Youth loop as the supervisor to the new Youth Minister… PLUS it allows Highland to retain on our staff one of the finest ministers I know: Carol Harston! Some months ago, Carol began to sense her ministry calling was to shifting away from pure youth ministry. We all assumed this would be the end of her tenure at Highland. As events unfolded last month with the Young Adult Minister search, the idea for the proposed realignment began to be revealed. Your church leadership feels this is the right direction for Highland. We await the wisdom of the church.


Please make every effort to be part of Saturday’s EmpowerWest MLK gathering at St. Stephen Church. Kevin Cosby, Walter Brueggemann, and a combined choir will make this a lively, race-healing experience. Your presence will make it more so. There’s a breakfast and dialogue with Cosby and Brueggemann at 9:30. The MLK Service begins at 11:00. For you committed ones, there’s also a meeting on Friday evening, at 7:00 p.m., to update the work on EmpowerWest.

Some may be concerned about safety in West Louisville. St. Stephen sits alone on a city block and has excellent parking on 15th street and Kentucky. It is an oasis in the midst of a troubled community.


Today, I made a hospital visit to Wes Singleton, the Shively police officer shot four times in the line of duty. In 2005, I performed the wedding of Wes and Kori Hagan, who was raised at Highland. Wes undergoes surgery tomorrow (Tuesday). They ask for our prayers for healing. We pray—for Wes, for the perpetrator, for all those whose lives are changed in an instant by the squeeze of a trigger—Lord, hear our prayer. ~ Joe