Sunday, January 9, 2022
This week, probably tomorrow, is an important time for the Minnesota Vikings. I’ve been a fan of the Vikings since I was four years old. I remember watching them lose a playoff game to the Baltimore Colts in 1968. The first time I cried was their Super Bowl loss to Kansas City. I’ve seen everything (on television) with the Vikings. The dominating Purple People Eaters; the playoff wins at the Met; every NFC Championship game. Part of me died when the Vikings lost four Super Bowls and now have names that describe their worst games (41-dounut; wide left, 12 men in the huddle, Blair Walsh.)
I’ve written before about the pain of being a Vikings fan. Today the Vikings finished their season at 8-9 and missed the playoffs for the second straight season. The speculation is what to do with Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, and Kirk Cousins. If Zygi and Mark Wulf asked me what they should do tomorrow, this is what I would say.
Get rid of all three—Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, Kirk Cousins (and get rid of him in a trade sometime before next season starts.)
I don’t take any pleasure in having to write that. I’d like all three of them to be successfully leading the Vikings into the playoffs.
I write as a fan. The following is why it's time for all three to go.
This is the hardest case to make of the three. Spielman became the Vice President of Player Personnel in 2006 and was promoted to General Manager of the Vikings in 2012. In my mind he is most responsible for the talent on the team through the draft, free agency, and trades. He’s also responsible for making key acquisitions that can lead a team to the Super Bowl.
Spielman has overseen 12 drafts and has made some outstanding picks. I’m thinking of Adrian Peterson, Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, Erik Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, and Justin Jefferson. He’s also made some clunkers—Christian Ponder, Laquon Treadwell, Jeff Gladney.
Spielman signed Kirk Cousins in 2018 and then signed him to an extension in 2020. This was his most controversial decision and saddled the time with limited salary cap space. He was never able to develop a quality offensive line.
The bottom line for me with Spielman is results. The Vikings have won three playoff games since Spielman became the Vice President of Player Personnel. That is not good enough. I see no reason to relieve him of his job and have him take another position in the Vikings’ organization.
I’ve always been a fan of Mike Zimmer and the toughness that he has tried to bring to the Vikings. Something was lacking with the Vikings when he took over as coach for Leslie Frazier. He had success as a defensive coordinator in Cincinnati, and my hopes he would elevate the defense to levels the Vikings experienced in the 1970s.
He’s had success. He’s won the third most games in the regular season for the Vikings. He’s had a 72-56-1 record for the Vikings. He took the Vikings to the NFC Championship game in January 2018 against the Eagles and had the top-ranked defense that season.
But he’s only won two playoff games. And the defense in the last two years has not been good. This year the defense is ranked in the bottom eight and was 29th in points allowed in 2020.
He’s also suffered from serious personal challenges. His wife died unexpectedly in 2009, and he’s had multiple eye surgeries.
I think it’s time for him to go. The last two seasons have been disappointing. His most recent selection of coordinators seemed to illustrate nepotism and an affinity for the old-boys network. I’m not convinced that his style of play—strong defense and a strong running game—fits the NFL in 2021.
And he hasn’t had much success since the playoff game against the Eagles. He’s only one two playoff games in eight years. This year his defense is ranked in the bottom eight in almost every defensive category. Last year their defense was one of the worst in the NFL.
His relationship with the media isn’t the most important factor for a coach, but Mike Zimmer has been very cranky this season.
I would love to sit down with Mike Zimmer and talk football with him. Though I don’t drink, he seems to be a guy with whom it would be a blast to have a beer. But his time has passed as coach of the Vikings.
The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins the year after they lost to Philadelphia in the 2018 NFC Championship game. Case Keenum wasn’t the long-term answer. He signed to take the Vikings to the next step—the Super Bowl.
He’s had success. He’s thrown for over four thousand yards and over 30 touchdowns in three of his four seasons. He led the Vikings final drive in their playoff victory over New Orleans. He is very careful with the ball and has always had a low number of interceptions.
Kirk Cousins is a excellent quarterback, but he’s not the type of leader who will lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl victory.
Missing the Packer game because of COVID was the final straw for me. For a person who is making 33 million this year and is the sixth highest paid player in the NFL, he should have gotten a COVID vaccine. I completely disagree with his statement he made at a press conference earlier in the year when he said that not getting a vaccine was a personal decision. His decision is not a personal one—it affects the Vikings and the Vikings fans. He could have gotten COVID if he had gotten a vaccine, but no one will know. His task as the quarterback for the Vikings is to do whatever it takes to play well in every game.
He failed by not playing in the Packers game.
The Vikings quite possible would have still lost if Cousins had played. But we will never know.
Not having an adequate backup is not a good enough excuse to keep Cousins. He is not worth the value on his contract. I would try to trade him and get as much of his contract as possible off the books.
I’m still hopeful that the Vikings will win a Super Bowl in my lifetime. I don’t think they will with Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, or Kirk Cousins on the payroll. It’s time to separate from all three.
Monday, November 1, 2021
As a pastor I learned long ago that keeping secrets in families can be toxic. Secrets can develop a power that they don’t deserve. They undermine trust. I remember a long time ago talking to a woman who didn’t learn until her late 20’s that abuse had happened in her family. It didn’t happen to her. But no one ever talked about it. She didn’t know and was devastated to learn the information.
Faith communities have lost credibility with the public because they have held onto secrets. Protestant and Catholic churches kept secrets about abusive pastors. Their unwillingness to talk about these horrible acts added even more pain to the original abuse.
Coming to terms with our past is hard—but necessary.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit a memorial in Duluth that remembers the lynching of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac Mc Ghie. These African-American men were circus workers. Rumors had circulated that a nineteen-year old Caucasian woman had been raped. Clayton, Jackson, and Mc Ghie were jailed on suspicions that they committed the rape. On June 15, 1920 a mob came to the jail, and hung the three.
A Memorial page tells the story in more complete detail. That link is here.
A Wikipedia page has also been set up that tells the story. That link is here. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duluth_lynchings
I had a chance to visit the Memorial when my family spent a Friday and Saturday in Duluth. The Memorial was beautifully set up with a story of what happened, quotes from many peace activists, and a quote on the top that said, “It is difficult to speak and impossible to remain silent.”
It was humbling to turn around and see the corner where three men were hung.
I have spent most of my life in Minnesota. I went to school in Worthington, Minnesota and attended college in Northfield, Minnesota. I love the state of Minnesota and expound on its qualities when I talk to people from other states. When I attended seminary in New York City I set up a display outside of my room called, “The Minnesota corner.” I put up articles about Minnesota—its wonderful qualities and its foibles.
Despite my love for Minnesota, I am still astounded that I never learned about the lynching of Clayton, Jackson, and Mc Ghie until I was in my mid 40’s. No one ever taught me about the incident in schools or college; I never heard a media report. It was like a secret of our state.
Fortunately this Memorial brings out into the open this horrific event. This event needs to be taught in all schools. We can’t come to terms with our past by keeping secret the parts of our past that are very painful.
Since the murder of George Floyd in May, 2020, people in the state of Minnesota and the United States have had many conversations on the topic of race. In my experience at some point these conversations turn to slavery. I’ve heard many of my Caucasian friends say, “why do we still have to talk about slavery. That happened so long ago. When are we going to move on?”
I don’t know when we as a country will move on. But what I do know that we haven’t moved on from this horror. Slavery certainly isn’t a secret, but it’s part of our history that is difficult to talk about. Having one memorial that remembers what happened is not the answer. But trying to move on when many haven’t moved on is also not the answer.
I’m grateful for this Memorial in Duluth. It brings out into open a painful part of our past—one that we can never forget.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Last Wednesday, five of us from Chain of Lakes Church drove to Kansas City to participate in Leadership Institute, the yearly leadership development conference at Church of the Resurrection (COR). COR is the largest Methodist congregation in the United States. It was started by Pastor Adam Hamilton in 1990 and now has tens of thousands of members at five difference campuses.
I’ve lost track how many times I’ve attended Leadership Institute in Kansas City. I continue to go because I find inspiration and creative ideas from a mainline congregation. Methodists and Presbyterians are not that different. Methodists have bishops; Presbyterians don’t. Methodists look to John Wesley as their theological founder; Presbyterians look to John Calvin. Besides those differences and a difference in how pastors are called to congregations, these two denominations are very similar in theology and in the way we look at the world.
I now go with a team of people. When I used to go as an individual I would come back and have a hard time following up with some of the ideas I learned. People were interested in what I had to say, but no one else shared the experience I had a hard time implementing all the ideas I wanted to implement. This year five people, including me, attended the conference. A big thanks to Jan Boehm, Kathy Brevig, Kaya Flanagan, for attending with me. We had a terrific time. And even though I’m thrilled to have shared the experience with five people, I’m hopeful that ten people will attend from Chain of Lakes in 2022. The dates of the conference are September 28-30, 2022.
On the way to Kansas City we stopped at the Methodist Church in Ankeny, the congregation where Jan Boehm served for many years as the Music Director. She gave us a tour and shared a glimpse of her life in Des Moines. The picture above is of a stop we made in Iowa.
I shared daily pictures and two videos of our group’s experience at Leadership Institute. Check them out on my Facebook page--facebook.com/hmoorepaul
It’s refreshing to go to a mainline congregation who has experienced extraordinary success and who is so willing to share with humility their ideas with anyone who wants to listen.
On Wednesday evening Adam Hamilton started the conference with sharing interesting statistics about those who attended. He had conducted a survey of over 500 people who attended the conference and the thousands who participated online. Because of COVID, inperson attendance was capped at 500. Forty-seven percent of congregations had experienced a decline in inperson and online worship attendance compared to pre-covid; Thirty-eight percent had experienced an increase. I saw these numbers as encouraging. I would have guessed the decrease in worship attendance would have been higher.
On Thursday morning Dr. Kevin Muriel shared a powerful talk about racial reconciliation. He serves Cascade Methodist Church in Atlanta, cascadeumc.org. He made the case for why the church should are for racial justice and racial reconciliation. Dr. Muriel shared that part of the challenge is the world and America are becoming more diverse, but the church is not. He encouraged participants to set aside time every day to be educated more on racial justice, to be conscious of race in conversations, and to find a trusted cultural informant on race. He shared that the future growth of the church will depend on the church’s ability to embrace diversity rather than ignoring or seeking to defy it.
Hearing Dr. Muriel speak in person was worth the trip to Kansas City.
That afternoon I attended a workshop on small groups and one on worship. Because the entire conference was a day shorter than in the past, there were less workshops. Somehow I wish more workshops could have been shared. Perhaps an additional set of workshops and one less speaker.
Thursday evening a session took place on the future of the Methodist church. I care about Methodists, but as a Presbyterian I decided not to attend. Instead I gave the group a tour of the Inner-City neighborhood where I lived as a boy. My family lived in Inner-City Kansas City in the summer of 1972 and then between the summer of 1973 & the summer of 1974. My parents worked for Cross Lines, a social-service agency that works in the Inner-City. Even though I was a boy, my call to ministry began when I lived in Kansas City. I showed the group the house and then building where my family lived—in both places we lived in community with others. I showed them the two housing projects that were a half mile from our house. We went to Stanley Elementary where I attended school, and I showed them Central Methodist Church in Armourdale where my parents ran a summer day camp for kids in the neighborhood.
On Friday morning we had the privilege of hearing from Bob Goff. He is a writer and speaker who founded “Restore International which is now Love Does. He recently wrote the book, “Dream Big.” In his talk he shared a number of remarkable quotes. “I’m not trying to be right, I’m trying to be Jesus.” “You don’t need permission to be kind.” “Put a handle on your baggage—pay attention.” “Every act of self-love is a reflection of Jesus.”
In his last talk Adam Hamilton shared some of the best practices that Church of the Resurrection has discovered in the last year. I was particularly interested in their “Love your Neighbor” campaign.
The conference was outstanding. I'm already looking forward to attending next year from September 28-30, 2022. Because of COVID the conference is shorter than in past years. My feedback for improvement would be to have an extra session of workshops. In workshops participants have the opportunity to talk to people from all over the country about their ministry. I've received some excellent ideas from Leadership Institute by talking to others at a workshop. I also wish more music could have been shared from the different music teams at Church of the Resurrection at the start of different workshops.
I also wish that a PC(USA) church would share a conference similar to this. Or perhaps some of the larger churches in the PC(USA) could work together to share a conference like this.
Church of the Resurrection does the church a huge favor by sharing this conference every year. I am excited to see how these ideas can make a difference at Chain of Lakes.
Would you like to receive an email when I write a blog? I'm writing every ten to fourteen days. Send me an email at email@example.com.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
This past Tuesday, September 21st my wife, Amy, and I got back from a nine-day trip to Europe. We took a long-boat trip on the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam. We took the trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, which was June 16, 2020. COVID stopped that trip. The trip was plagued by uncertainty because Viking didn’t even begin travel in Europe until June 18th of this year. Because we had waited so long, just boarding the plane was a success.
In order to board the longboat, we had to be fully vaccinated and had to have a negative COVID test 72 hours before departure.
I took pictures of each day of the trip that I posted on my personal Facebook page, facebook.com/hmoorepaul.
Approximately fifty-five people traveled on the boat—half of capacity. The people were all Americans and lived all over the United States. Not many people came from the Midwest, only a couple from Rapid City and two couples from Springfield, Missouri.
Viking treated us like royalty. Their staff was well trained and went out of their way to make us feel special. Their excursions were very well organized and the guides they hired were outstanding. My only significant complaint with Viking was they changed the itinerary of our trip in August without our approval. They decided to have us travel in October instead of September. This didn’t work for Amy and me. It was only because of the excellent work of Stacy Henning, Amy’s sister and our travel agent, that we were able to get our original dates. The trip was also changed as we traveled from Basel to Amsterdam instead of Amsterdam to Basel. But despite all of these pre-trip changes, Amy and I would travel with Viking again. Travel agencies are under enormous pressure because of COVID.
Each day we were offered excursions. Some of the places we docked were Kehl, Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cologne, and Arnheim.
I’ve traveled to Europe twice before. This time I got a sense of the long history. When we talk about history in Blaine, we probably go back a hundred years. When the guides talked to us about history they went back two thousand years to the Romans. Frequently I heard stories from the 13th century and saw statues and other monuments that celebrated people who lived eight hundred years ago.
The shadow of World War II still covers the areas that we visited. Almost every guide talked about World War II and thanked us as Americans for helping Europe be liberated from the Nazis. We saw many pictures of villages that were completely destroyed in World War II. Many monuments exist that share a special event in the war.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was traveling up the Rhine and seeing many of the castles that are located near the river. Castles are not part of America. Seeing these structures that were built in some cases 900 years ago gave me a glimpse of what life was like in the Middle Ages. We had the opportunity to tour Marksburg castle in Braubach. People lived in this castle for over 700 years. Today it is open for tourism. Even though people were comparatively privilege to live in this castle, life was very difficult. People in the castle were constantly concerned that people would attack the castle. The path to the castle was intentionally bumpy so people who wanted to attack the castle would have a hard time entering. And people lived with the challenges of the time. A toilet was a hole that was about sixty feet above a path on the outside of the castle. People kept food in an elevated ice box. Ice was put in the bottom of the chest to keep cool food that was put over it. We were told that people slept sitting up as lying down was what happened to people when they were dead. They didn’t want to tempt fate. A Wikipedia page about the castle is at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marksburg.
I also was struck by the size of the Cathedral in Cologne. Construction was started in 1248 but stopped in 1560. Construction was started to house the relics of the Three Kings or Magi. When the Cathedral was completed in 1880 it was the tallest building in the world, over 500 feet high. That distinction lasted for four years until the Washington Monument was built. Today it is the third tallest Cathedral in the world. Can you imagine constructing that high without the machinery of today? Today it is Germany’s most visited site with over six million people visiting each year.
We experienced a much higher concern about COVID than what I’ve experienced in the United States. We wore masks anytime we were indoors. Viking had each passenger take a saliva test every morning. Amsterdam wouldn’t let foreigners into the City unless they had been quarantined for ten days. Because of this we were not able to tour Amsterdam.
I know that I’m privilege to travel. Taking this sense gave me a deeper sense of the vastness of our world and the vastness of our history.
I’m committed to writing a blog every seven to ten days. If you’d like to receive a notification when I write a blog, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
I will never forget.
I will never forget that 2,996 people died that day--265 on four airplanes, 2606 at the World Trade Center, and 125 at the Pentagon. I will not forget among that number 344 firefighters, 71 law enforcement and 55 military personnel died.
I will not forget what I was doing that day. I started that Tuesday by praying in the new Infant Room of the church I was serving. When I was done the phone rang. It was my wife, Amy. She had been trying to contact me. "They're attacking us," she cried. Soon I found out what happened. I drove over to the church that Chuck Coggins served. He was a close pastor friend of mine. The two of us decided to go visit Father Don Connelly, the local priest in town. When we arrived Chuck and I shared with Father Don we were going to have a community prayer service at the Catholic church. Father Don didn't question this at all. The three of us watched the drama on television. We saw the towers crash. When one did I remember Chuck saying, "a lot of people just died." That night we had one of the most powerful, raw and emotional services that I had ever experienced. The clergy in town preached and prayed; the congregation sang; the Spirit was uplifted. I will never forget.
And I won't forget what happened to New York City. I lived there for three-and-a-half years. I love the City. I miss it. I went to the Twin Towers often. I ate many times at "Windows on the World." I remember riding the elevators to the top floor and viewing the world from the top of the World Trade Center. The first time I visited the site after 911, Amy and I were silenced by the heaviness of the place. I think of it often.
And I won't forget that love always outlasts hate. Always! Always! Always! It's a core principle of the universe. Love always outlasts hate.
And I won't forget my own life-long commitment to this love. I encourage you to make that same commitment too.
I will never forget!
Monday, August 16, 2021
What a day! Chain of Lakes Church broke ground yesterday on our first-phase building. It was a day that the people in our congregation had been waiting for a long time. I shared in my sermon that the length of our wait made the day even sweeter. And oh was it sweet!
I’ve shared with folks at Chain of Lakes that if our events have PIE they will be successful, that is Prayer; Internal Enthusiasm; External Curiosity. I know the Groundbreaking received plenty of prayer. This is practically all I’ve been praying about for the last week. The Internal Enthusiasm was apparent to me when I arrived around 9:15am, seventy-five minutes before worship. Already close to twenty people had already arrived to help with the set-up. I discovered the external curiosity during the week as almost everyone who I invited seemed interested.
Chain of Lakes has had a team who met every Tuesday for the past five weeks to plan the Groundbreaking. And the team’s attention to detail was beautiful. They had three large tents set up and an additional five smaller tents along with 150 chairs and a sound system. All of it was hauled to the property and set up. And everything worked beautifully.
But once the service started the logistics moved to the background and God’s Spirit took over. We started worship with a trumpet playing sections of Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. These were the first sounds in the worship space. Worship was held in the approximate space where the future worship space in the first-phase building will be. We called this the first worship service in the new space. Obi Anizor, Val Owens, and my daughter, Hannah Moore, shared a litany of welcome. I wasn’t in tears only because I was focusing on not weeping. And before worship someone from the Praise Band playfully shared with me that they would give me $100 if I didn’t cry. The Music by the Praise Band was joyous. John Ivers shared the story of Chain of Lakes and then John Altrichter shared the story of the Building Campaign and thanked the large number of people who have given their time to this campaign over the last five years. We heard the story of the start of the church in Acts 2. And then I preached.
In my sermon I told many stories. I shared the story of my wife, Amy and me coming to Blaine and ultimately receiving a call to build the one church. She is the Administrator at St. Joesph by the Lakes Catholic Church in Lino Lakes, and I’m the pastor of Chain of Lakes in Blaine. Through our leadership in these two congregations, we’re building the church. I looked at the story of Acts 2 and marveled at the spiritual energy. It was the spiritual energy that we were feeling yesterday. I said.
It is a spiritual energy that comes from God and is available to all. It’s the energy of the church. It’s much more than let’s jump up and down and wave our hands. It’s the energy that inspires us to love each other deeply. We won’t tolerate hunger because we can’t bear to see people who are hungry; we won’t tolerate unnecessary suffering, and we will go out of our way to care for people who are suffering. We want people to experience this energy so we encourage people to learn the Scriptures, and have a relationship with Jesus; we encourage people to worship weekly because when people do they can experience the source of this energy; we won’t tolerate homelessness because that’s not what God intends for humans; we won’t tolerate or give in to divisions or extreme partisanship because God wants us to be together.
And we celebrated what the church can mean to us. I shared that the
the church—is the ekkelsia, which is a Greek word that essentially means, “the community that is called out to represent something special.” A community where people do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God; a place where individuals live by the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. A place where people are safe—and are given the space to heal from the wounds they’ve experienced. A place where people discover who they are—what I call the Inspirational Intersection. A place where people call the world to justice and righteousness. And ultimately a place where everyone notices—like Tertullian did in the 2nd century—who noticed church people and wrote, “look how they love each other.”
After the sermon I asked people to stand and recommit themselves to Chain of Lakes Church. Everyone else held up their hands in blessing. I then had everyone else stand and recommit themselves to building up the church. The people from Chain of Lakes held up their hands in blessing.
At the end of worship we gathered to break ground. Everyone was encouraged to bring a shovel and most did. And though the ground was hard because of the lack of rain, we were eventually able to move dirt. Everyone who was present could receive a commemorative shovel and a small flower pot into which they could put their dirt.
After worship many of the kids kept digging their holes—for which kid doesn’t like to dig in the dirt?
Portions of the service can be viewed at: vimeo.com/manage/videos/587573200
The whole day was a symphony of wows. I was filled with awe because of the many wonders that were done. And just like that community in Acts was touched by what they saw, I felt the same way. This was one of the most moving services I had the opportunity to lead. The spirit from the service will stay with me for a long time.
After worship we stayed for a long time to talk and celebrate and share many hugs. A large number of people from Chain of Lakes were hauling chairs two hours after worship ended. Many of the pictures of the day were shared on the Chain of Lakes Facebook page.
And so we move on—and we look forward to the start of construction. Assuming that final details of an additional loan will be approved, (we need the loan because the cost of materials have increased by a hundred thousand), construction will start in September.
I can’t wait to see dirt moved and then see a building arise. I know that the soil for that building has been prepared and the foundation has been set.
So many memories from yesterday. The happiness of an event well planned, managed, and executed will stay with me for a long time. And a day when I said, “wow” quite often. When I hear or say the word, “wow” I know that God is nearby because God is in the business of orchestrating wow. And yesterday God was the masterful conductor.
Would you take a moment to subscribe to this blog? Put your email in the box on the right hand side of this blog. You'll be asked a few questions to ensure you are really a human being. You'll then receive an email whenever a blog is posted