1) Tonight I'm coming to you from my Uncle Fred and Aunt Kathy's home in Palm City, Florida. I arrived this afternoon at the West Palm Beach Airport to do conduct research on church number 5, Indian River City UMC (Titusville, Florida). For those who don't know, I'm in the throws of working through a doctoral dissertation on planned pastoral succession. Right now I'm conducting 12 case studies on 12 different churches who successfully succeeded (say that fast 10 times) a long-time senior pastor with an associate pastor on that church's staff who was shifted into the role of lead pastor. My 12 churches are all over the country (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tuscon, Dayton, Louisville, Alexandria [VA], Weathersfield [CN], Dallas [2 different churches], Atlanta, and Titusville [near Orlando]. The other church is across the pond in London. The case studies involve doing multiple interviews with pastors, lay staff, lay leaders, and ecclesiastical leaders (when necessary), to recreate the "story" of the succession at each church. The hope is that by re-creating that story, commonalities might be discovered that could inform future succession planning.
My extended family realizing that I have limited funds to do all of this travel are graciously extending hospitality so that we might continue to keep the Bucher household flush with milk, and bread and all that food my boys are plowing through daily. Fred, Kathy, their daughter Katy, and her boyfriend Matt have been so accommodating it's humbling. Kathy even ironed my shirts so I won't look like a wrinkled academic. Much thanks to them as I keep plowing along trying to get all of this done by May '09.
2) I must offer my kudos to those pastors who planned the community-wide service for peace at the Philippian Missionary Baptist Church in Lima. The service was truly edifying and left all who attended, I think, with a sense of hope about the future. As I told the congregation on Sunday, even though the City of Lima and Shawnee Township are two separate political entities, the problems we share and the commitment we have as Christians to address these problems knows no bounds. We will be proud to be full partners in whatever ministry opportunities geared toward healing racial, cultural, and socio-economic wounds as they present themselves. We cannot undo the past, but we can, through Jesus, fashion a better tomorrow, together.
3) Can't believe how smoothly my travel went today. Buzz Alder was at the house at 4am to get me to Dayton on time for my 6am flight (he's picking me up on Friday, and I'll be taking he and Betty out to dinner since it's his birthday). All my flights were on schedule. My layover in Atlanta went well, and as my Beesons comrades can attest, sometimes that doesn't happen). Rented a Saturn Ion for the week to be able to make all my trips for all my interviews (I'll need to also drive to Lakeland, Florida to do some interviewing of some key players in IRCUMC's succession process). It's a nice little car. Just a really smooth day. Wonder what that means?
4) Woo.... 3:30am came awful early this morning. And 4:15am will come awful early tomorrow. So if I get the time and have internet service later this week, I promise to write more. God bless.