Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grand Opening worship

This Sunday, January 31 at 10:30 a.m. we are celebrating our Grand Opening worship service at Chain of Lakes Church. We are worshipping at the Lino Lakes Senior Center—1189 Main Street. The Senior Center is located a half mile east of the intersection of Main and Lake Drive (#23).

I’ve used all sorts of metaphors to describe this service. First it’s a Grand Opening—we are opening our doors to the community. We’ve done a lot of advertising and direct mail for this Grand Opening. We are praying that many people in the community will come and check us out. Second, last week in worship I compared the service to the Opening Day of baseball season. We will have special guest speakers and special decorations and special food. Since we started worship in December we at Chain of Lakes have gone through spring training—preparing ourselves for Opening Day. Finally, to use New Church Development language this is our launch service. When new church development pastors get together they talk about how many people attended the launch service. I’m sure I’ll be sharing the attendance of Sunday’s worship service with many people in the future.

We have a marvelous service planned. We’ve organized the service around the theme of celebration. We’re celebrating our Presbyterian connection—Chaz Ruark, the Executive Presbyter of our Presbytery will speak and we will recognize delegations from other Presbyterian churches; we’re celebrating children—my daughter, Hannah, is singing, and we will have a special Children’s Time; we’re celebrating history—John Ivers will give a talk about the history of Chain of Lakes Church and we’ll hear a reading from Acts about the start of the church; we’re celebrating the future—in my sermon I’m going to share some of the dreams we have for Chain of Lakes Church; and we’re celebrating gifts—Richard Marshall, the co-chair of the viola section of the Minnesota Orchestra and his wife, Melinda, will share their music along with Sue Ruby. All three of them were generously loaned to us for this service from Valley Presbyterian Church. We are asking everyone to bring a Haiti Hygiene kits at the service. These kits will be given to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Contents of a Haiti Hygiene kit can be found on the blog I wrote on Thursday, January 21.

This promises to be a marvelous service, and we encourage people from the community to come.

Which leads me to my last request—and this one is aimed at the people from Chain of Lakes Church. And that request can be summed up in one word—invitation. I shared on my Facebook Page this week and the word of the week is “invitation.” Last Sunday in worship I shared that most people who join a faith community first came to the community because of an invitation shared by a friend or family member; I also shared that less than ten percent of people who join a church first attend because of an invitation by a pastor. When I encourage people at Chain of Lakes to invite I don’t do it to pass on the work of evangelism; I do it because research shows that lay folks are more successful than pastors in bringing people to a faith community for the first time. I am working on my ten percent this week—I’ve made a number of phone calls extending invitations. But I am also spending time encouraging everyone at Chain of Lakes to invite.

Two Sundays ago we passed out invitations to the Grand Opening after worship. I was touched when Nancy Amundsen got out her address book and started filling out envelopes. Now that is serious inviting!! (See the picture at the top of this blog).

Wherever you reside would you take a moment right now to pray for our Grand Opening service. Pray for the three “P’s.” People, presence, and preaching!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The pain of a Vikings' fan

My first memory of shedding tears was watching the Vikings lose to the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV in January 1970. I didn’t shed any tears when Garrett Harley kicked a 40 yard field goal in overtime last night, but the emotion I experienced was the same.

Being a Vikings fan is now rivaling being a Red Sox fan before they won the World Series and being a Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan before they beat the Yankees in 1955. Red Sox fans were convinced that they were cursed by the Bambino after they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. The problem for Vikings fans is our drought hasn’t been broken yet. My rational side doesn’t believe in curses, but how else can a person explain how the Vikings could lose such a winnable game.

How do the Vikings fumble twice inside the Saints ten-yard line and fumble inside their own ten-yard line?
How do the Vikings have 12 men in the huddle on the most important play of the year, AND when they were coming out of a time-out?
How does the official throw IN OVERTIME an interference flag on Leber when the ball was clearly uncatchable?
How does Brett Favre throw an interception when he and every person who has ever thrown a football know that he cannot turn the ball over in that situation?

Each of the above plays didn’t lose the game, but mix them together and the brew concocted tastes what Vikings fans were belching after the game. Terrible turnovers, bad coaching, questionable calls. Those descriptions could be used to describe the 1975 loss to the Cowboys and the 1998 loss to the Falcons and now will be used to describe yet another inglorious loss in Vikings history—2010 Saints.

My reaction to the game has illustrated that I will always be a Vikings fan. For weeks prior to the game I was joking to my friends that the Vikings had to earn my heart back. I shared that I’ve had my heart broken by the Vikings too many times to get on the bandwagon. I was going to root for them, but I wouldn’t give them my heart. Hmmmm. I guess I proved that idea wrong as I was screaming more than once at the television at my neighbors’ house last night. (And I had never been to my neighbors’ house!! Just proves that decorum goes out the window when fans are rooting for their team. What event besides sport causes us to scream without embarrassment in another person’s home?) Despite my pre-game boasts, I had deluded myself—I had given my heart to the Vikings—and they proceeded to break it again. So I guess I’m a Vikings fan again. On Facebook my fellow linebacker at Carleton told all Vikings fans not to get near the kool-aid today or do much with sharp knives. Good advice. Because many Minnesotans experienced rage at about 9:30 p.m. Central time last night.

It’s “wait ‘till next year,” again. It’s an old saying—and connects Vikings’ fans with long-suffering fans everywhere.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Hygiene Kits

One of the purposes of Chain of Lakes Church is for disciples to impact the world. Our congregation is helping make an impact through our response to the devastation wrought by the earthquake in Haiti.

Last Sunday in worship we were able to collect over $400 for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. I was blown away by the amount of this offering given by 33 people!! We will continue to collect money during worship the next two Sundays.

We are encouraging everyone who is coming to our Grand Opening worship service on Sunday, January 31 at 10:30 a.m. to bring a Haiti Hygiene Kit. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is encouraging congregations to collect these Hygiene Kits.

I’m excited that the day that we celebrating our Grand Opening service—our launch service to use New Church Development language—we are also helping to make an impact on the community. On that day we’ll interweave worship and service.

I shared with the worshipping community last Sunday that I hope we at Chain of Lakes will take some mission trips to Haiti at the appropriate time.

Haiti Hygiene Kit:
1 — hand towel (approximately 16" x 28",
no fingertip or bath towels)
1 — washcloth
1 — wide-tooth comb
1 — nail clipper (no metal files or emery
1 — bar of soap (bath size in wrapper)
1 — toothbrush (in original packaging)
6 — Band-Aids® or other adhesive
bandage strips
Please do not add toothpaste to the Hygiene Kit. Toothpaste which has an extended expiration date will be added to Hygiene Kit shipments just prior to shipment. Seal all items in a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Leadership Lessons from Martin Luther King

I studied Martin Luther King Jr. in a class taught by Paul Wellstone in the spring of 1985 at Carleton College. The class was called, “Social Movements and Protest Politics.” During the class we read King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a brilliant exposition of the philosophy of non-violent resistance.

On this Federal Holiday marking King’s birthday, I found King’s letter and read it again. If we do anything to remember Martin Luther King’s birthday today, I commend all of us at a minimum to read this letter. The copy I read is here:

This letter had an important impact on me as I decided what to do with my life. King was writing to the white clergymen of Birmingham who were critical of the campaign that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was conducting to expose the racial injustices of the city.

What touched me when I studied this letter 25 years ago was King’s desire to reach out to these white clergymen. He appealed to a higher moral law to justify the non-violent resistant campaign that he was leading in Birmingham. King hoped that these white clergymen could see that it was only through non-violent resistance would the conditions in Birmingham change. He appealed directly to their heart and their own sense of morality.

As a junior in college this had a deep impact on me. I began to believe even more deeply that change in our world could not take place unless people could transcend the differences of race and class to work together for good. The seeds of these beliefs had been planted in me when I lived in inner-city Kansas City, Kansas as an elementary-age boy. While there I questioned how the rich, white people in Johnson County could live with themselves while people suffered from poverty in the neighborhood where I lived.

The ideal is quite simple: people transcending differences to work for good. The application is terribly hard. But the ideal that King communicated is worthy of our life’s devotion.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the church is the best institution in our world to help people overcome differences to work for good.

This ideal is so different than the approach Pat Robertson has taken in regards to the horrific earthquake in Haiti. Robertson saw the earthquake as an expression of God’s wrath for Haiti’s “pact with the devil.” I can’t help but reflect on the differences between Robertson and King.

Both looked at terrible suffering. Robertson responded by blaming the victims; King would have responded by helping the victims. Robertson responded by appealing to the devil’s work; King would have responded by appealing to a higher moral law. Robertson created division; King would have worked to bring people together. Robertson responded by controversy that divided people; if King had responded in a controversial way he would have done it to expose injustice in hopes that human hearts would be touched so that aid would be delivered.

On this national holiday let us all commit ourselves again to the simple, but profoundly difficult task of overcoming our differences to work for good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grand Opening

The following Press Release about the Grand Opening worship service at Chain of Lakes
is being released to the media today. Thanks to Duane Sweep from the Synod Office for his excellent editing suggestions. This Press Release may be used by anyone interested in publicizing our Grand Opening worship service.

New Presbyterian Church conducts Grand Opening Worship Service
Chain of Lakes Church, a new Presbyterian church forming in the Blaine and Lino Lakes area, plans to conduct its Grand Opening worship service Sunday, Jan. 31, at 10:30 a.m. at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, 1189 Main St., in Lino Lakes.

The Rev. Paul Moore, who began as the pastor of Chain of Lakes Church in February 2009, is inviting the community to attend the worship service.

“We are tremendously excited at sharing our Grand Opening service with the community,” Moore said. “Ever since I started at Chain of Lakes, the people in our faith community have wanted to share our congregation with the community. I want to invite personally the wider community to this Grand Opening worship service”

Chain of Lakes Church is a new church development of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) sponsored by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.

“We have developed a purpose statement that we believe will connect with the people of the north metro,” Moore said. The statement reads, “We are called to be an authentic, Christian community where strangers become friends, friends become disciples and disciples impact the world.”

During the past year the new congregation has organized a number of events in the community, including a blessing of animals event, vacation Bible school, the Alpha Course – an introduction to the Christian faith, and host to a concert by the Cedar Lake 7 at the Senior Center. The congregataion also collected backpacks for low-income children, and distributed Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts for low-income families through the Community Emergency Assistance Program.

“We want to be a congregation where people can grow in their faith and have their faith connect to the needs of the world. At this service people should get a sense of our excitement of starting a new church in the north metro,” Moore said.

A Minnesota native, Moore served 16 years at the pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Plainview before coming to Chain of Lakes. During that time the congregation grew in membership and worship attendance.
Moore is a graduate of Carleton College, Northfield. His wife, Amy, just started as the administrator of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lino Lakes. He and his wife have a daughter, Hannah, age 9.
Moore blogs about his faith, family and Chain of Lakes Church at
The office of Chain of Lakes Church is located in the Lovell Building in Lexington, 4175 Lovell Road, No. 115.

Additional information about Chain of Lakes Church can be found online at

Monday, January 11, 2010

That didn't go well

This past Saturday, January 9 I attended the first meeting of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area for 2010 held at Presbyterian Church of the Way in Shoreview. I arrived a half hour before the meeting started and was surprised at the large number of cars parked in the lot. This was the largest attended meeting in my recent memory. After I registered I was delighted to talk to two elders from Community Presbyterian in Plainview, my previous church. I soon set up a table and encouraged people in the Presbytery to sign up for our new church development’s Prayer Newsletter.

After the Officers of the Presbytery gave their reports the Nominating Committee presented a slate of candidates for General Assembly Commissioner. They had two slates of candidates. The Nominating Committee presented a slate of elder and minister candidates, and they had an alternate slate of elder and minister candidates. They proposed that the Presbytery vote on the slate of elder and minister candidates that they proposed and not vote on whether an alternate candidate become a Commissioner to General Assembly

That is when the meeting spiraled downward.

Suddenly the Presbytery was bickering (to put it mildly) about voting on alternate candidates to be commissioners, whether the entire slate of alternate candidates could be included in the vote or whether the alternate candidates needed to be nominated one-by-one. The Presbytery then voted to nominate all the alternate candidates which meant that new ballots had to be formed. It was a mess.

I was asked to be a Teller for the votes. After the balloting took place I spent about a hour with the other Tellers carefully counting the ballots. I was told that the meeting didn’t get any better, though I missed those fireworks and can’t comment on them.

I’ve gone to meetings of the Twin Cities Area for almost 17 years. I have participated in many meetings like these. They’re terrible. They don’t build up the body, they are in no way encouraging to new people who come to the meetings, and they deeply diminish our ability as a Presbytery to do common Mission together.

I don’t look at Presbytery meetings as sport—I want to leave them inspired and touched by what the Presbytery is doing to further the Kingdom of God.

My initial learnings from this past Saturday's meeting are these.

1. We need to learn how to disagree better.
I would expect that voting for Commissioners to General Assembly will be contentious. The vote illustrates the theological split within the Presbyterian Church. Disagreeing is inevitable—disagreeing like we did on Saturday is not. One of the proposed Core Values of Chain of Lakes Church is healthy disagreement. What we mean by this is “we always encourage discussion while valuing different opinions. When we disagree we will speak the truth in love, treat others respectfully, without conflict and always seek to stay in community.”

My dream would be for this to become a Core Value of the Presbytery.

2. We have to value the process less.
I don’t leave a Presbytery meeting thinking it was a success if we did a good job of following Robert’s Rules of Order. I still haven’t figured out why we have elevated our procedures to such a high place. Okay—so many people wanted to include the alternate commissioners in a vote for General Assembly commissioners. But is anyone’s salvation at risk if we don’t vote on alternate commissioners in a vote for General Assembly commissioners? Will we come closer to a world that has less violence and poverty if we do? I value process, but it’s not of highest importance to me. We Presbyterians have become almost Pharisaic in our allegiance to how we do things.

If these words seem too harsh, I apologize in advance. I feel a bit uncertain about sharing these words because the New Church Development I serve receives significant funding from the Presbytery. I realize that I am biting the hand that feeds the church I serve. But when I am critical of Presbyterians I’m speaking about family. If you cut me open I would bleed Presbyterian. What drives my thoughts is my desire to uplift the church that is called Presbyterian.

I won’t stop coming to Presbytery meetings, but meetings like this past Saturday’s leave a taste in my mouth that doesn’t leave soon.

My hope is a conversation can get started (especially among people under 50) about how we as a Presbytery can stop having our meetings spiral like they did on Saturday and how we can learn to disagree in a healthy way. Comments to this blog are encouraged!!

Postscipt: Stephanie Anthony, pastor of First Presbyterian in Hudson, has added some comments about the Presbytery meeting this past Saturday. I encourage everyone to go to her blog at:

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Christmas Day bombing

We are inundated with so much news that it’s hard sometimes to know what stories to take seriously. But as I heard during my very busy Christmas season that a man tried to blow up an airplane flying to Detroit on Christmas Day my first thought was “that is serious.”

And indeed—the coverage by the media and the response by the United States government to the ignition of a bomb by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on an airplane shows the seriousness.

The question that seems to be driving the aftermath of this story is “how can this happen?” How can a man succeed in detonating a bomb on an airplane after all of the billions of dollars spent on security and all of the significant organization and re-organization of intelligence agencies that exist to thwart such an action. How can this happen?

I am not an expert on intelligence or bombs or counter-terrorism, but I do have some experience in observing the human condition. My perhaps overly simplistic response to the “how can this happen?” question is if enough people want to bomb an airplane eventually someone will accomplish such evil. And, of course, our government is required to try to prevent such attacks. But no amount of regulation or security measures can protect us from anyone who wants to kill others.

We live in an age where such attacks have become common-place. The Columbine attack was the first one. Late last year another attack occurred at Fort Hood—and most of us don’t even remember that the day after the Fort Hood attack another attack occurred in Orlando.

Sure there is a difference between bombing an airplane and taking a gun to fire at people indiscriminately, but the common element in the actions is the condition of the human heart. Our heart is capable of incredible good and incredible evil. Sometimes evil wins out. As I look at the bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and other acts of admittedly shocking violence I see a bottom-line spiritual issue.

And though I am at a certain level supportive of the security measures taken by our government and in the use of technology to thwart attacks, no amount of technology or government intervention can ultimately change the human heart.

I don’t have the hubris to proclaim an answer to airport bombers; however I do believe we in 21st century America must change our expectations of our world. Do we really expect to live in a world where such awful violence doesn’t happen?

I appreciated most of what David Brooks wrote about this issue. His column can be found here: In particular I appreciated the following words, “Now we seem to expect perfection from government and then throw temper tantrums when it is not achieved. We seem to be in the position of young adolescents — who believe mommy and daddy can take care of everything, and then grow angry and cynical when it becomes clear they can’t.”

It seems that soon we’ll have full-body scanners at airports, just as we had to take off our shoes after the shoe-bomber detonated a bomb. I guess I’m supportive of these measures, but I won’t be surprised if someone figures out a way to beat these systems.

We live in a very dangerous world. I don’t expect perfection—because we humans can’t achieve it.

The act by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is another wake-up call for all of us to be more effective in influencing the human heart towards good.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What a Year! Reflecting on 2009

On Monday of this week Amy, Hannah, and I flew from the deep freeze of Florida to the deep freeze of Minnesota. Guess which one is colder? While on vacation I had a chance to reflect on the past year. 2009 was the most eventful year I’ve experienced since 2000. I didn’t think I would ever have another year where more significant events happened than 2000. During those days I was married, oversaw the ground breaking of a million dollar church building in Plainview, learned how to do church while our building was under construction, was investigated by the Presbytery, and then held Hannah in my arms for the first time shortly after she entered the world.

2009 rivaled all of that. The best way I can communicate the intensity of 2009 is to share some moments. In the future when I look back at 2009 I will remember the following moments—shared in chronological order:

Holding the lifeless hand in January of my childhood friend Jeff Gravon at Methodist Hospital shortly after he died. Jeff was a close, childhood friend. I knew him since the second grade and connected with him during many chapters of his life. Amy & I spent a lot of time with him. We watched Jeff battle his cancer until the end of his life and journeyed with him during his battle. His battle with cancer attracted the attention of the local media. I had the privilege of officiating at both of his funeral services. I was deeply touched by how his New Prague basketball team responded to his death. I shared some thoughts about this in a March 26 blog called, “Play Like Champions.”

Shaking hands with the people at Community Presbyterian Church in February as they departed the sanctuary at the last worship I led. With Amy & Hannah standing beside me we hugged everyone who lined up to say “good bye.” The emotion was overwhelming. Everyone was crying—including me. I hadn’t intended for this final service to be so emotional, but I learned a long time ago that when the Spirit is working we might as well go with what happens.

My first day of work in February at Chain of Lakes. Seven families attended a Steering Committee meeting that night. They came to check me out—and thankfully all seven families are still participating in our community. I think of these seven families as pioneers. That night I was grateful that I had a group of people with whom I could work.

Receiving the word from Amy in May that the offer that we put on our house in Blaine was accepted. I was (coincidentally??) driving by the house when I received a call on my cell phone from her telling me this news. We love our new house and our new neighborhood.

Watching Amy’s son, Drew and Nikki receive a wedding blessing in October at Pax Christi Church in Rochester. The entire weekend of events went off without a hitch. What a privilege it is to be with family at important times of their life!

Waiting in a lawn chair in our children’s room before our first Sunday worship service in December at Chain of Lakes. I wrote about this in a December 7 blog entitled, “What a Day of Blessings! Praise God!” As I sat in that chair about 45 minutes before the start of worship I was fairly sure we would have some people come to that service, but I had no idea who or how many would come. We ended up with 42 people attending—many more than I had expected. That service was a confirmation for me that God is calling this group of people called Chain of Lakes to a faith community. The energy was fabulous.

What a year!! Thanks be to God for the adventures I experienced during the time period we all call, “2009!”