Looking Forward

By Jim Nelson, Senior Minister

Last year was a busy one, with the courtyard completion and dedication, a weekend spiritual retreat, new Preacher in You and Spirit in Practice classes, and the supervision of ministerial interns Christina Shu and, at a distance, Peter Farriday.  And this coming year promises to be exciting as well.  Peter will join us in the fall, and like Christina, be with us half-time.  For me, this is rewarding work and it is a privilege to work with those entering the ministry.

This past year we had two wonderful guest preachers, Lee Barker and Bill Schulz, and I hope we can do something similar again this coming year – stay tuned for that.  The preaching schedule is already crowded with two interns, myself, and Hannah when she returns from her sabbatical in January, so there is never a good excuse to stay away on a Sunday morning if you are in town. I will lead a weekend retreat again, and another Preacher in You class.  Plus, we are working on starting a mid-week service.

My sabbatical was good – just what I needed.  Many of the books I read will show up in sermons this coming year (see the list below).  Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World will be the basis of our theological themes.  On the Tuesday before I preach on a theme, I will lead an open discussion about Taylor’s treatment of that particular theme.

So, lots to look forward to.  And then there are all these things, Curiosity and Mars, the Higgs boson, London and the Olympics, a presidential election, Aurora CO and Oak Creek WI, Chick-Fil-A, income taxes and the hottest summer ever,  Nuns and the Vatican, and health care.  Plus polls on religious attendance and spirituality.  All that plus life and death, right and wrong, love and indifference, justice and injustice.

I am in the office Tuesdays and Wednesdays and would love to see you; it is best to call ahead to make sure I am free, or call the office to make an appointment.  Thursdays and Fridays are filled with meetings and worship preparation. On Saturdays, I prepare for Sunday with reading, taking time for my spiritual practice and writing – along with various church activities.  Monday is my day off. You can email me anytime and I am always available in an emergency.

I am so looking forward to being back.  Being away is great and productive, but my heart is with you and our beloved community.

See you in church,


Sabbatical Bibliography


  • To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron
  • Green on Capri by Shirley Hazzard
  • The Puritan Ideal by Andrew Delbanco
  • The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Rough-Hewn Land by Keith Heyer Meldahl
  • The Passage of Power by Robert Caro
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
  • Eaarth by Bill McKibben
  • American Grace by Robert Putnam
  • The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzman
  • Leaving Church, When God is Silent, An Altar in the World, and Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor


  • Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantell
  • IQ84 by Haruki Murakami
  • Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru
  • Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  • Italian Shoes by Henning Mankel
  • The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman


  • Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
  • Poems by Elizabeth Bishop
  • Here by Wislawa Szymborska
  • Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
  • The Nature of Things by Lucretius

Plus a stack of New Yorkers and New York Review of Books.

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One Response to Looking Forward

  1. Sara Willard says:

    How about a sermon on “Moby Dick”; we’ve been waiting!…..

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