Community

When I was young, I was a member of a church that believed that God had prepared a special place where only members of that church would be allowed. I must admit that the teaching of that church colored my thinking and that became part of my belief system.

While I am still a member of that same church, my perception of God, heaven, and the role of the church have all changed. I think the general beliefs of the church have evolved at the same time and in the same direction.

The church I claim membership in and commitment to from my youth is still precious to me. I love the text in my Bible whose teachings have been evolving as more research on ancient texts reveals more truth. The Book of Mormon is also precious to me for the insights it provides into my understanding of God’s nature, of the love of Jesus and of the potential for human understanding. I am deeply impressed by the notion that God speaks to the church through modern day revelation of eternal purpose and God’s will for us in the situations we encounter.

As much as I am committed to the scriptural, institutional and relational resources the church provides to me, I can also respect those same resources others rely on from their church, their synagogue, their mosque or wherever they turn to as a source of strength and comfort.

The prompting of God revealed in my life through the Holy Spirit is that my most meaningful response to God’s love for me is found in the Gospel message from Mark 12: 29-31

29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

And from Matthew 25: 34-45.

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

My best response to the love of God is not in the form of theological debate. It is, instead, in being a resource for the wellbeing of those within my sphere of influence.

Those within my sphere of influence include members of the local congregation of my church, my facebook friends and the people living around me. These are the communities I am a part of. I have been involved in other communities in the past, most of which I have fond memories of, but I cannot have relationships with memories even though they do serve as a source of comfort to me at times.

I live in close proximity to the neighbors who occupy the houses on the block we share, both sides of the street. I know my neighbors, at least most of them. We look out for each other. When the ambulance or the police come into my neighborhood, I get as close as I can to the activity without interfering. I do that so I can be available to my neighbors for whatever assistance I can offer.

I hear often that we need to make changes in our society and I agree. The most important change we could make to our society would be to increase the degree of community (neighborhood) interaction. Even the simple change of forming “Constituent Assemblies” of 100 neighbors to choose representatives to our government would increase feelings of community cohesion.

Introduction

Let me tell you something about myself. I came from humble but honest and dedicated beginnings. Branches of the families I am descended from were justifiably proud of what they achieved. I intend to share some stories from the lives of my ancestors. It is my hope that those stories will encourage the readers to explore the history of their own families. Even though we are not always aware of the influence the past has on us, it is always there.

I was a depression era baby. I was also a WWII child. My experiences during those years helped shape my ethos and created a sense of communal responsibility in me.

Guidance from my family, my commanders in the Air Force, and my university professors have all contributed to making me the person I have become. Those influences continue to impress the need to work for a better society in me. I will be sharing some of those stories.

This introduction would not be complete without sharing some of my accomplishments. Please forgive me or not giving equal time, or any time at all, to my failures. Let me just admit to having failures and let it go at that.

My early adult life was spent in the United States Air Force. I was inducted in May of 1956. I liked the Air Force which probably explains my staying for 20 years. I spent those years in the Air Weather Service. During that time I had the following assignments as a weather observer:

  • 1956-1958 McChord AFB, Washington State.
  • 1958-1962 Naha Air Base, Okinawa
  • 1962-1963 Offutt AFB, Nebraska
  • 1963-1966 Naha Air Base, Okinawa

From 1966 to 1969, I served as an instructor in the Basic Weather School at Chanute AFB, Illinois.

From 1969 to 1972 I was a Weather Station Supervisor at Kadena AB, Okinawa

Beginning in 1972 and ending with my retirement in 1976, I was Air Force Technical Advisor to the 182nd Weather Flight, Texas Air National Guard, Kelly AFB and Camp Mabry, Texas.

Education has always been important to me. I began work on my Bachelor’s degree in 1965 at the University of Maryland, Far East Division. I received my BA in psychology at Our Lady of The Lake University of San Antonio in 1976, two months after I retired from the Air Force. I received the Ph.D. in sociology from the Texas Woman’s University in August 1992.

My major field of study was social organization with an emphasis on the family and community.  I also consider myself both a social philosopher and an eclectic theoretical sociologist.  My research focused on Childhood Socialization and the effect of differential family structure and process on the socialization of children and neighborhood as a support network for the urban and suburban family.

I was called to the office of teacher by the Community of Christ at the young age of 15 and have been ministering ever since.  I have been responsible for mission work and preaching, also serving as a church school teacher and administrator, congregational pastor and counselor.  I was called to the office of elder in 2009 in which office I have served since.

I taught in institutes of higher education in Texas, Kansas and Missouri for 17 years, achieving professorial status at both DeVry and Park University. The courses I taught included:

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Social Problems
  • Principles of Behavior Management
  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Social Change
  • Human Behavior Through the Life Course
  • Sociology of Childhood
  • Minority Relations
  • Urban Sociology

During and after my university teaching career I developed and presented seminars on:

  • Child-Centered Parenting
  • Couples Consensus
  • Personal Development. 

I have been active in community service wherever I lived. 

  • I served on the City of Independence, Missouri Human Relations Commission, dealing with issues of prejudice, discrimination and status relations for seven years, chairing the commission for two years.
  • I served on the Issues Selection Committee of Kansas City Consensus, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • I developed the Heartland Center for Community Development, a Storehouse Corporation of the Kansas City Stake, Community of Christ Church, preparing the Articles of Incorporation, bylaws and program outlines in Family Advocacy, Mediation, Volunteer Management and Neighborhood Organization.
  • I organized, trained and supervised lay counselors for Central Missouri Stake of the Community of Christ Church.
  • I was a charter member of the Lytle, Texas Volunteer Ambulance Association, certified Class B ambulance attendant, working as a volunteer medical attendant/driver.
  • I pastored the Danville, Illinois mission of the Community of Christ Church for three years.

I want to continue the practice of being active in service to my community by means of this blog.