Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel


Among my weaknesses, is this one: The ability to consistently make real and relevant United Methodism in a post-denominational era.

The days of everyone caring whether you are Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian and so on…. those are not ours. Heck. About one-fifth of the American public overall – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated ( In other words, to care about distinctions within Christianity is a bit of stretch when folks are less likely to be religiously inclined period.

United Methodism can be as insignificant as one would like for it to be. Go ahead. Dismiss it as a relic of mainline Protestantism’s heyday. In that bless your has-been heart kind of way, pat it on the head. It did give us some great schools and hospitals. But let me be clear: At its core is a connectionalism that ought not be mistaken for institutional jargon. In a networking era, a networked church is on time.

Connectionalism is how Boulevard has almost always had a full-time, seminary trained pastor (without having to lure one here with packages and promises). It’s how you can put a few bucks in the plate and manage to reach out and touch the wounds of other people whose far-away-ness makes them no less worthy of compassion. It’s how I can call up my former boss and ask him to preach.

Larry Davies oversaw my first three years in ministry. As Lynchburg’s District superintendent (yellow “L” above), he was the one to tell me where I was headed after Nashville. He watched as I sought ordination in full—it’s a long process—while both of us weathered the storms of my then congregation. This is to say nothing of what it means to supervise 89 congregations.

He may have had his own reasons for saying yes. What I know is why I asked. He could speak a Word that I have yet to offer you—a message that celebrates the vitality that came to a Smörgåsbord of people back then and a sermon that asks us to ask for it again. Vitality. Aliveness. Not for self-preservation. For the being of Christ’s body.

I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here. Here with you and to pray, come Holy Spirit, come. If I could instruct the third person of the trinity, I’d ask it to reveal to us how we share this cup (v.13) and to point out why, for whom, we bother. But by the grace that is my strength, I know better. So I say to the Spirit just this: Do your thing.