How Much Should a Pastor be Paid for a Wedding?

It was my first church where I was a full-time minister.

I recall spotting the best man striding purposefully towards me. It was after the wedding service, but before the reception had begun. He was pale, skinny, and so (so) young! In a tuxedo looking like he’d co-starred in a teen slasher film that ended badly and predictably at a prom, he stopped in front of me.

“Thanks,” he said, “for doing Tommy’s wedding.”

“You’re welcome.” (I don’t remember the groom’s name, but why not Thomas? Tommy to his pals.)

“He wanted me to give you this.” The best man reached into a jacket pocket and then handed me a folded envelope.

“Gotta go take pictures for the wedding party thing,” he said. “But thanks, again.”

I slipped the envelope in my Bible. Since the wedding was for the granddaughter of one of the long-time church members, I knew quite a few in attendance. I socialized, soon moseying over to where pictures were being taken and posing for a friendly photo with the new newlyweds. The reception followed. Boring me, I left early.

It was on the way home that I glanced at the envelope. Continue reading →

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Putting the “Fun” Back in Funeral

I’m just kidding about the “fun” in the title.

Or perhaps not.

How many funerals have I done? Were they fun? Not one.

But were they tenderhearted, memorable, and—if not a Hollywood happy ending—a way to provide some solace for the living who eventually retreated from the freshly turned earth?

I hope so.

Several years before wearing my official ministerial robe, before a Bishop laid his hand on my head to bestow ordination, a seminary professor assigned me to Presbyterian Church in Southern California. A student pastor, I shadowed church staff to witness their work. I probably had to write a paper about my experiences. Thankfully, any paper I wrote was lost. However, decades later, I have a note from that church’s associate pastor. Near the semester’s end, he told me to wait in his office while he scribbled on a blank 3×5 card.

“Here,” Bob said (and his name was Bob), “This is what you’ll need for the funerals of folks you won’t know.”

He handed me the card.

“Trust me, Larry,” Bob continued, “you’ll do lots of funerals for people you’ve never met. Just keep this card in your Bible, and you’ll be ready for any of ‘em.” Continue reading →

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Trudging Along the Way

I want to rant about Trump.

How easy that would be. Isn’t he a smidgen like the Gospels’ Pontius Pilate? Our current president seems like a two-dimensional character from another place (modern New York substituting for ancient Rome), wealthier than most, ambiguous in faith, and morally flexible. But he’s large and in charge. Thankfully, there was no known tweeting by the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea.

Why rant?

Maybe because I’ve read and seen too many reports of hurricanes swirling in these last weeks. They have been randomly destructive, liquid and violent proof of climate change (or close enough to that apocalyptic theory to unsettle a few naysayers). And yet the leader of the free world spews and sputters over a game played with an oblong ball.

How can we be so cursed (certainly not blessed) to have POTUS devote even a splintered split of a second to whining about, and swearing at, overpaid players of a child’s game? But he did. He does. People have died. Homes were destroyed. American citizens reel from the oceanic fury, thrust into chaos and ruin by a slew of hurricanes.

This president, a nattily-dressed mogul with a personal wealth that rivals Delaware’s 4.1 billion or South Dakota’s 4.5 billion annual budgets, is different than me. (And maybe you.) After all, I’ve never declared bankruptcy or insulted war heroes. I don’t have the heart of a miser or the greedy urges of the rich lusting to get richer. I don’t scheme to brand my name . . . everywhere.

My rant could go on.

And yet I think of those hurricanes. Continue reading →

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather