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Preliminary Design Presentation, coming to church on Sunday, August 17:Feast your eyes on the general design (exterior campus only) to be unveiled after the second service on 8/17.  We'll be considering several unique features for our parking lot, walkways, and a reconfiguration for the Peace Stones.  

 Playin' the hits:On Sunday, August 17,Nathan and I will return to the format of last year's Ingathering Services when we commented on the pre-selected top-40 hits from the summer. This is the Sunday we also dedicate our teachers, launch a new church-wide program theme, and unveil the exterior church campus design.

 40 years ago this month,I entered seminary, the same month that President Richard Nixon resigned. I reflected on this journey in my high-school class alumni newsletter recently. I think back on ending my job at WROK AM and FM in Rockford, IL, back in the golden era of AM radio before AM became all talk and music shifted to FM. I had a great time working in that medium-market radio environment where we literally rocked 24 hours a day. Yet, I was vocationally restless and enrolled at Meadville/Lombard Theological School and the University of Chicago Divinity School on the south side of Chicago where concentrated study and an internship would yield a Masters Degree and a professional Doctorate of Ministry in '78.  The owner of the radio station threw a party when I left and told me if seminary didn't work out, I should not hesitate to return to the station. It was at WROK where I received the call to ministry.  I had spent many volunteer hours at the Unitarian Church of Rockford and one night a copywriter at the radio station took a break from her IBM Selectric and looked over across her desk at me and said, "Why don't you go into the ministry.  You spend so much time over there already."  Why hadn't I thought of that?  A burning bush spoke to Moses.  In my case, the voice was Roanna's  – a coffee-drinking, chain-smoking, insightful copywriter.  Thanks, Roanna.

 No One Wants to be Called a Racist: Little wonder that several St. George city proponents were unhappy with the PBS Frontline special, "Separate But Equal," that aired nationwide last month.  We plan to show a 30-minute segment at church on Sunday, Aug. 10, at the close of the second service.  St. George proponents were dismayed at the tone of the program and claim that the break-away city has "nothing to do with race or class."  No one wants to be called racist.  The best anti-racism work does not sort out saints and sinners.  Quite the contrary.  In small groups of trust and sincerity where people willingly engage in conversations about institutional structures and why those structures look and operate the way they do, the topic of white privilege eventually emerges.  That is where the conversation about the St. George city needs to go –more in the direction of where the Frontline television crew wanted to nudge us –making us look at the great divisions of color and class and white privilege in an old American city of the South.  I remain opposed to the St. George breakaway not because bad people are behind the proposal.  I want to be convinced they love cities in general and care about all people in them. I want us to engage in a conversation of white privilege.  I want us to speak about the number of displaced children in the proposed new St. George school system who are currently EBR students.  Will there be gifted-talented and special needs services to families in the new city?  I want us to talk about what we accomplish with one more city hall, one more mayor, one more city council, and all the services that 100,000 people will need inside one parish government that must care for the wellbeing of the entire parish.