Monday, March 27, 2006

Seven Things I Think I Think

1) I'm going to get a little bit waylaid today, and I may not get to a full ten things that I think. That's because I've got a few major things I'm thinking about: capital campaigns, renovation projects, the Hispanic community in Lima, a proposed casino for our community...... let's get started.

2) First and foremost, Xavier's birthday was Saturday. My wife created an "Astronaut Training Center" in our living room with about 10 rolls of aluminum foil and some mattresses on the floor. A good time was had by all. Hard to believe Xavie is four already.... I wish they didn't grow up so fast (99% of the time).

3) We're in the throws here at the church of a proposed three-year Capital Campaign geared to paying off our current mortgage (a little over $500,000). I don't have any ambivalence about this campaign. I think it makes good fiscal sense to pay off the mortgage early. And, for that matter, I've never regretted any financial campaign I've run for a church because I believed, and believe in its mission and ministry. But, I have to admit, I fear becoming recognized as one of those pastors who "care only about money". I just always try to remember that the moment that someone decides to support a ministry, and makes a contribution, is sacred, because money is the thing you got in trade for a moment of your life and service. It is this, the image of hardworking people making a sacrifice on behalf of Jesus' kingdom, that gives meaning and weight for me, a pastor who had better utilize those resources to their fullest potential. Doing so, helps me sleep well at night.

4) Speaking of money, did you read Ronald Lederman Jr's article in The Lima News on Sunday? Lederman has come out in support of bringing a casino to Lima, which is his right, but check out this comment from column this Sunday (read the whole column here at ):

"Perhaps we can understand local religious leaders who oppose gambling. If your churchÂ’s stance is that gambling is a sin, it makes sense that youÂ’d oppose a casino. ItÂ’s still a shame some pastors have lost faith in their own messages, instead opting for the muscle of government to save us all."

Well, here's my reply to Mr. Lederman:

Mr. Lederman

As a local pastor, I'd like to respond to your column in the Sunday Edition of The Lima News. Your assertion that a member of the clergy who voices their opposition to this project is somehow acting in faithlessness, is absurd. Those in Christian ministry must adhere the message from the Epistle of James, which states that faith, without action, is useless. Since we live in a free society, where we encourage people to participate in the political process, not acting, it would seem, would truly be the faithless act. To insinuate otherwise is to have little sense of what a working faith actually is in the life of a believer.

How else can you explain why a good Libertarian, like yourself, is advocating the use of government land and resources to prop up a private business? It seems to me that if you had any faith in your own message, you'd tell the Eastern Shawnee Tribe to go to court, find their own land, and fight their own battle on this issue. Faithwise, for a Libertarian, wouldn't that make more sense?

I would hope, also, that as a member of the press, you would do a little more research on this issue beyond a couple of trips to a casino in Northern Michigan and your own simple deduction. If you had, you'd realize, for example, that the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Rapids, Michigan established, after commissioning a study by the Anderson Economic Group, that the economic promises made by a tribe like the Eastern Shawnee, are often largely unfounded.
I invite you, Mr. Lederman, to take some time and look at this, and other studies regarding the effects of casino gambling on local communities at There, you will find that those with and without religious convictions actually believe that casinos can be detrimental to the economy of a local community.

And finally, like you, I too have visited a casino. It was on a riverboat in Shreveport, Louisiana. While casually taking in the scene, I ended up standing next to a young woman who was popping dollar coins into a slot machine. As she did this, I overheard her on a cell phone asking her mother to please watch her children just a "couple more hours". And then, in mid-conversation, the machine paid out, and she exclaimed, "I got my rent money back!". Then, she hung up the phone, and started putting more coins into the slot.

Thus, in closing, I will advise that all those opposed to this casino for religious, or non-religious reasons, to write, email, or phone Mayor Berger, the Allen County Commissioners, the Shawnee Township Trustees, and the Perry Township Trustees to let them know how they feel on the subject of casino gambling in this community. And they can write to this paper, show up at political meetings dedicated to this subject, and not worry one whit about the validity of their faith. For, as Abraham Lincoln said, "To sin by silence makes cowards of men", and, in faith, I think I ought to heed his words, as opposed to your own.

Rev. Bryan Bucher

5) I also had the pleasure, last week, of attending a forum hosted by the Mayor on the subject of the influx Hispanicsics into the Lima community. Passions on the issue were running high on both sides, but the information presented to us by the various law enforcement officials from the local and federal officials, as well as the experience of various public officials from the town of Goshen, Indiana, was first rate.

You might remember that we moved here from Goshen two years ago, and you might now be asking, what, if any, connection I might have had in Mayor Kauffman, Superintendent Staley, and the others who came with them coming to Lima to speak on the subject.

Well, to be honest, while he gave me credit in the presentation itself, my connection to this event couldn't have been more flimsy. Dave Harris, pastor at Trinity UMC and the force behind this forum, and I had a conversation one day about tHispanicnic issue, and I let it slip that Goshen had already been through the transition a community goes through when thousands of non-English speaking people start calling your town home. After telling him a little of Goshen's story, I just suggested that he ought to go to Goshen and buy Mayor Kauffman a cup of coffee to talk over the subject. Two months later, Allen is in front of over 200 community leaders fielding questions about law enforcement, Mexican ID cards, and temporary drivers permits for illegal aliens.

The lesson in all this: That Dave Harris is one go-getter. Maybe next time I should suggest that he talk to the President of Barnes & Noble about building a store in Lima. Which takes me to this...

6) I would have never believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but the owners of the American Mall are currently discussing dismantling that facility, and constructing a new shopping plaza in its place. And wouldn't you know it, they mention bringing, by name, a Barnes & Noble to this community. Now, I've been emailing these people for the last nineteen months, so to even have just the smallest bone thrown at this hungry, old dog has re-energized me. Let's hope we get a decent bookstore that serves legal stimulants before we get a place to chuck dice on the 87% certainty that the "house" will win.

7) And finally (because time is short), the new Solid Rock Cafe, a meeting place here at Shawnee UMC, opened this Sunday to much fanfare. The decorators on this project, Kelly Balyeat and Vickie House, did a fine, fine job, accomplishing the "impossible": Creating a space that is appreciated and admired by people of all ages. Just a great experience watching the surprise in people's eyes as they layed them on the Cafe for the first time. First rate and kudos to all involved.

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