“Keeper of the blog”.
If you’d told me when I joined this church as a youth nearly 50 years ago I would one day serve as “keeper of the blog”, I’d have thought how that strange title seemed better suited to some character in the Marvel comics I was reading at the time. Even in 2015, I’m not sure “keeper of the blog” has made the Stewardship Time & Talents list. But Pastor Carla introduced me that way once in a meeting, and I figure I might as well run with it.
“Telling Our Stories” emerged from the vision of Ann Knox and Jessica Rathbun-Cook as they began redesigning our web site three years ago. They asked me to submit a piece, and in some now-hazy moment soon after, I agreed to serve as the ongoing content procurer or, I suppose, blog-keeper. Since December of 2012, we have posted 70 stories written by members of our faith community – roughly one every two weeks.
The perks of the job outweigh the drudgery – which exists only if you think finding two dozen contributors in a year is hard work. It kinda is, but I always tell myself it’s just a rough patch and things are about to get easier. Meanwhile, I get first dibs at reading all the wonderful pieces that appear here. And other than finding the writers, that’s usually all I do: read the story, maybe do my little punctuation-freak dance, and send it on to our web administrator (aka Ann Knox) to post.
Occasionally, there’s more. When Joe Adams submitted his story about pre-judging his black neighbors, he and I texted back and forth a good bit. Joe wanted to be honest about claiming his “blind spot” without being offensive or hurtful to anyone reading. We vetted the piece among a cross section of church staff and members, some with sensitivity training expertise. Ultimately, Joe shared the story with the neighbor he’d written about. He made his own tweaks along the way, and we posted a week later to positive response.
While that piece ran a little later than scheduled, we soon had another arrive early. Kimberly Carswell, one of the most organized people I know, had in February promised me a blog story for the third week in May. She knew she’d be at the start of seasonal work on the church’s community garden and trusted she would “unearth” something to write about. Then – life intervened. She received word of a comment made in her absence, questioning her faith commitment in light of her political leanings. How many of us would have held onto that as a glob of smoldering snark, something to charge to the questioner’s account forever and a day? Kimberly turned it into an examination of her faith and why and how she indeed tries to live as a Christian. Her story was shared multiple times via the church’s Facebook page – cited by clergy and members from other congregations – and received appreciative comments on our web site from a similarly diverse group. Oh – and she beat her deadline by a couple of weeks.
Blog-keeping also comes with surprise lessons in humility. Making some notes for seminarian Laura Kelly’s bio to accompany her recent post on comedy improv and faith, I asked how long she had been visiting with us. She told me as gently as possible that she’s a member.
I’m struck with the life and the faith that happen to inspire stories posted here; that continue to happen in their writing, and in their being shared. I’m grateful that in a culture of disposable tweets and instant social snark, I’m part of a community whose members are willing to spend time writing a whole page’s worth of story from experiences that hold for them some depth. It reminds me that sometimes our stories pick up where the ones in the Bible leave off: tales of imperfect people drawn toward wholeness, love, and the Perfect Light.
As noted above, Alfred Walker has been at GPPC a long time, amassing credentials that include Elder, choir member, and for a while capturing worship services with a tape recorder. He currently enjoys being the church’s first-ever blog-keeper, and he would like to invite you to submit a faith-related story for this space. Having a connection with GPPC would be helpful – that you are reading this blog is probably close enough. Speak to Alfred at church, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.