Friday, February 24, 2012

new video

Check out the preview video we did for an upcoming sermon series on the Old Testament.

It's really fun!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

One of the reasons I love denominational churches is we celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent. This is a day when we remember .

Lent is a journey where we walk for 40 days towards Easter. It’s hard to appreciate and celebrate the resurrection without going through Lent. I don’t believe that Lent has to be a time where we give up something—like chocolate or TV or the Internet or Facebook (though I wouldn’t mind if my daughter gave up Facebook for Lent). I do believe that this is a time where we can be intentional on growing as a person related to God. God is working on us and through us. For 40 days we have an opportunity to be intentional about some part of our life and/or character in which we want to grow.

I encourage everyone to find a place to worship on Ash Wednesday. Tonight at Chain of Lakes we will gather at 6:30 p.m. The theme of our service is “Redefining Temptation.” We will talk about what temptation means, we’ll watch a video, we’ll receive ashes and Communion. Every person will have the opportunity to spend time praying about our journey of Lent. Child care will be available.

Start the journey towards Easter by worshipping on Ash Wednesday. I’m proud that Presbyterians and other denominations share this worship opportunity with the community.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Camp Sunday at Chain of Lakes Presbyterian Clearwater Forest

This Sunday is Camp Sunday. D.J. Jeremiason, the director of Presbyterian Clearwater Forest, will be with us in worship. He and Kellie Burriss will be leading the music. We're going to have a Praise service on Sunday. During the sermon time D.J. will talk about the ministry at Presbyterian Clearwater Forest. This camp is a jewel, and I highly recommend all youth and kids to attend camp this summer. There are some family camps and even grandparent camps. Everyone who registers for camp on Sunday will receive a $25 discount. We at Chain of Lakes have frequently shared scholarships with kids attending camp.

Before worship on Sunday we will have a Mardi Gras pancake breakfast. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, and we will celebrate with this pancake breakfast. The breakfast begins at 9:00 a.m. Joanne Shingledecker is organizing games for everyone who attends the breakfast. We are encouraging adults to make a $5 donation and kids a $3 donation to the breakfast. It is an all-you-can eat event.

This Sunday is an excellent day to invite a friend or family member to Chain of Lakes. With the breakfast and the Praise service any visitor will most likely experience a wonderful spiritual energy.

I also have a surprise video that I'm going to share on Sunday about an upcoming sermon series called "Old Testament=2012."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rolling Stone article on teen suicide

On Monday a Chain of Lakes leader sent me a link to an article in Rolling Stone about teen suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin (A-H) school district. According to the article nine teens, four reportedly gay (GLBT), in the A-H district have committed suicide in two years. The district’s neutrality policy is being partly blamed along with hostility towards GLBT students stirred up by the far-right in Anoka County.

The link to the article can be found here—
A response by the A-H school district to the article can be found here—

I haven’t lived in the A-H district that long so don’t know much about the neutrality policy. I’ve followed the story in the news, but have had a hard time figuring out what is going on. As I understand it, the neutrality policy discourages teachers from taking a stance on controversial issues—teachers are supposed to stay neutral and not share their opinions. The article argued that this has created an environment that is not supportive of GLBT teens who are being bullied.

On Monday I posted a link to the article on my Facebook page and asked if anyone could share more about the policy. A fascinating conversation about gay and lesbian issues broke out. Check it out at:!/hmoorepaul

For a long time I’ve believed that sexual orientation is not a choice. Because of my reading of Genesis 1 & 2 and my experience with many gay and lesbian friends I don’t believe that gays and lesbians would choose their orientation. Just as I didn’t choose to be a heterosexual, GLBT folks didn’t choose the orientation with which they have.

My belief about orientation, my study of the Scriptures, my relationships with GLBT folks and most importantly my conversations with God have led me to conclude that a person’s sexual orientation should not be a barrier to ordination in the church.

As a religious leader for almost 20 years I’ve also had the misfortune of seeing the Presbyterian church suffer deeply over the issue of gay and lesbian ordination. I’ve experienced the many different sides of the issue. I went to a seminary where to question whether gays and lesbians should be ordained would have made me feel like a heretic in that community; I worked as a youth director in a church where to believe that gays and lesbians should be ordained would have also made me feel like a heretic in that community; I was a pastor of a wonderful church where people really didn’t want to talk about the issue. I’ve attended many Presbytery meetings where people have fought hard over this issue. I’ve witnessed strong leaders on both sides of the issue leave congregations, and now seemingly will witness an exodus of congregations from the PC(USA), a denomination that I love.

As a pastor of a new church I want to help create a community where people of different views on the ordination of gays and lesbians can live and respect each other. “Healthy Disagreement” is the value to which I want people at Chain of Lakes to bring to these issues. I can certainly understand how people can read the Bible and come to the conclusion that gays and lesbians should not be ordained. People with these views aren’t horrible or homophobic folks. Many have prayerfully studied the Scriptures and have come to this conclusion. I also can understand how people can read the Scriptures and come to the conclusion that gays and lesbians should be ordained. People with these views haven’t abandoned the Bible. They have studied Genesis and the teachings of Jesus and have prayerfully come to this conclusion.

It’s tragic that many have exploited these issues and wedged people apart. Too often congregations and political parties have become echo chambers of people who think the same on this issue. To question the beliefs of the majority is not possible. We’ve ended up terribly polarized. In Minnesota this polarization could easily deepen this November as we are being forced to vote on whether the constitution of this state should ban gay marriage.

Whatever our views on GLBT ordination and marriage, I find it hard to believe that all of us can’t come together to be united in condemning teen suicide and working to create a culture where these tragedies never occur. I don’t believe it matters to ninety-nine percent of the people in Anoka County whether a teen who committed suicide was gay or straight. All of us believe these suicides are tragedies and have to be stopped in the future.

If anything I am pleading for us to come together to stop this scourge in the community. I don’t claim to have the answers, but I am willing to work with anyone who wants to find the answers. The community has a responsibility for every teen suicide. Let's move beyond ideology and polarization and work together to find solutions to this horor.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Big Miracle

Last night Amy, Hannah, and I drove over to Andover to see the “Big Miracle.” This was the first time in a while we’ve enjoyed a Family Fun Night. We started the night by going to Dixie Blue Barbeque in Blaine and then went to enjoy the opening night of the Disney produced movie.

For the first time in a long time I experienced some excitement in a movie theatre. The theatre wasn’t quite sold out, but it was almost full. One group had reserved three rows of seats. Some folks could only sit in the bottom row of seats. Obviously Disney had done an excellent job of marketing the movie to teens and pre-teens.

Starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, and Ted Danson “The Big Miracle” is based on a true story of the attempted rescue of three grey whales in 1988 in the Arctic Circle. The whales—named Fred, Wilma and Bam-Bam—had gotten off course from their winter migration to Baja, Mexico and became trapped by ice near Port Barrow, Alaska. The whales were discovered as they came to the surface for air. The rest of the movie was a story about many different people working together to try to save the whales.

And what wouldn’t a kid like about the movie? A patchwork of different forces come together to try to save these innocent creatures.

All sorts of other side-plots were presented in the film—the role of the media in generating a story; the relationship of the Native American culture with the outside world; opposing groups (Greenpeace and Big Oil; the United States & Russia) coming together; the ambition of young reporters,; and frayed romantic relationships. None of these side-plots could be developed thoroughly. Each was presented like a teaspoon of sugar that gave my brain a momentary high.

I particularly enjoyed another side plot where two, goofy inventors from Minnesota were brought to Alaska with their home made de-icing machine. Each was stereotyped as a Minnesotan—make sure the “o” is long. Picture Ole trying to save a whale. There were plenty of slurred vowels by both. I don’t know if the characterization was a spoof or if Hollywood actually thinks that we Minnesotans talk like this. Whatever the motivation the two were very funny.

I don’t want to disclose the end to “Big Miracle,”, but it does have some surprises. It’s a worthy film to take a kid—with plenty of material for a rich conversation later.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Front Page News!

The following article was on the front page of the Sun-Press newspaper last week.

Blaine City Council hears about proposed church in The Lakes development

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2:23 PM CST
Chain of Lakes Church is looking at building a facility in The Lakes development.

The church began to form in February 2009 with seven families who were interested in beginning a new church.

According to Blaine Planning Director Bryan Schafer, the church has been renting space in the Lino Lakes Community Center for a couple of years. The church has about 30 families who regularly attend, and it has been looking for a more permanent home.

Meridian Bank owns a large outlot at the far northwest corner of The Lakes, which was planned and approved for Rottlund to build a variety of townhomes.

Schafer said the church would generate about the same amount of traffic as the townhomes, but it would be in a more concentrated timeframe, mainly on Sundays.

The bank and Chain of Lakes Church have reached an agreement for the church to purchase about nine acres in the western portion of what Rottlund owned. The approved preliminary plot included 120 to 130 townhome units for the parcel the church is proposing to acquire.

The church would like to apply for a conditional use permit and a re-plat of the outlot, Schafer said. The permit would provide the zoning approval needed to build the facility, although it isn't clear when the church would build. The property could allow for a phase one, plus future additions.

It could be three to five years before the congregation grows to the point where investing in a new building would be practical, Schafer said. Upon City Council approval, the church would purchase the property from Meridan Bank.

According to Schafer, since churches are permitted by conditional use permit in all residential zoning districts, the property wouldn't need rezoning or land use approval other than the conditional use permit.

The proposed project was discussed during the Jan. 12 council workshop.

Councilmember Kathy Kolb asked if the church is envisioning the new facility growing into a school since it's quite a bit of land.

"A school has never been in the conversation. As far as size, we never sell the Holy Spirit short," said Ward Sessing, chair of the Property Task Force for Chain of Lakes Church.

Sessing said the new worship space would be designed for up to 400 people. There would be two services, with a potential third service on a day other than a Sunday.

"I don't see that this would be that big of an impact," said Kolb. "Churches are good neighbors. ... I think it's a good fit."

Councilmember Dick Swanson said a church in a residential area makes sense because no special zoning changes are needed. He added that he would rather see the church built before the whole neighborhood is developed.

"I don't have a problem with the church as long as we know what it is now and what it's going to be," Mayor Tom Ryan said.

"You have to build your congregation ... and start off with enough space to build," he said.

Sessing said Chain of Lakes Church is a congregation that belongs to the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. The Presbytery will buy the land and the church will develop the property.

Sessing said buying property in advance of need will result in better choices of land and hopefully better economic value of the land.

Schafer said the site currently does not have any access to Main Street/125th Avenue, requiring all access internally from Edison Street. While that is consistent and appropriate for the 120 townhomes that would have been built, it may not be appropriate or sufficient for the church since traffic would be winding through the residential area.

In a memo to the council, Schafer wrote that while historically churches have been built within neighborhoods, more recent experience suggests that churches draw from much larger areas.

City staff and the church have been discussing with the Anoka County Highway Department a possible right-in/right-out access at 125th Avenue to help address the access issue.

Schafer said the county isn't considering full access because there isn't enough spacing, so it would need to be limited to a right-in/right-out access.

Schafer added that the church would like to modify the site to provide more visibility and access to 125th Avenue. This would involve reducing or removing portions of existing berm along 125th Avenue and creating new berms along the east and south sides of the church site. The berm along 125th Avenue was created to lessen noise from vehicles on 125th Avenue for adjacent residential units.

Councilmember Mike Bourke asked in what ways citizens will have an opportunity to determine the project's feasibility. He said he's received a few emails and one phone call from residents who live in the area of the proposed church.

Schafer said the project would go through the Planning Commission and the City Council, and the church wants to schedule a neighborhood meeting to inform residents of the proposal.

Schafer said on Jan. 23 that the city is waiting to receive more information from the county about the 125th Avenue access before a meeting is scheduled.