The Rev. Martin Copenhaver

Denomination: United Church of Christ (UCC)
Organization: Andover Newton Theological School

Martin B. Copenhaver became the president of Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, MA in 2014.

Formerly he was the Senior Pastor of Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  He is a graduate of Dickinson College and received his Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 1980. Martin served churches in Phoenix, Arizona, Burlington, Vermont and Westport, Connecticut before becoming Senior Pastor of Wellesley Congregational Church in 1994.  

He is a member of the Board of Advisors of Yale Divinity School and earlier served as a trustee of Andover Newton Theological School, where he has also taught. 

Martin is the author of five books: Living Faith While Holding Doubts; To Begin at the Beginning: An Introduction to the Christian Faith; Good News in Exile (co-authored with Anthony B. Robinson and William Willimon); Words for the Journey: Letters to Our Teenagers About Life and Faith (co-authored with Anthony B. Robinson); and, most recently, This Odd and Wondrous Calling:  The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers (Co-authored with Lillian Daniel). 

Martin is an Editor at Large at The Christian Century and a contributor to numerous other periodicals.  He is also a member of the Writer's Group, which produces written resources for the United Church of Christ, including the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Martin Copenhaver

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Eating Jesus

Tuesday August 21, 2012
In his sermon on John 6:51-69, the Rev. Martin Copenhaver looks deeply into the meaning of the sacrament of communion, noting that in John language is pressed to its limits to express the indissoluble participation of one life in another, of Jesus' life within us.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Tuesday July 26, 2011
The story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 reminds us that excuses have no place in the Christian life. Because as Christians, we don't have to make excuses because we can't justify ourselves anyway--that's God's job. Instead, learn to practice forgiveness.

Articles by The Rev. Martin Copenhaver

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Martin Copenhaver: Searchlights and Penlights

Friday October 06, 2017
Sister Helen Prejean, the Roman Catholic nun who wrote the book Dead Man Walking, said in a lecture, 'I'm always asking God for a searchlight. But, instead, God gives me a penlight.'

Martin Copenhaver: A Funeral for a Frog

Friday August 25, 2017
I suppose it is handy to have a minister in the family when a frog needs a funeral, but in this case I was more member of the congregation than officiant.

Martin Copenhaver: Finding God in All the Wrong Places

Wednesday August 16, 2017
On a number of occasions I have hiked in the interior reaches of the Grand Canyon. To me it is a holy place, the most vaulted of natural Gothic cathedrals. It’s not hard to feel close to God there, not only because of what is present, but also due to what is largely absent””the demands of living in community.

Martin Copenhaver: Don't Wait

Wednesday July 26, 2017
In the last decade or so of my father's life he developed an interest in wine. He would read about the many varieties and vintages and vineyards. When a wine was purchased, it was carefully stored and catalogued. Occasionally he would even drink the stuff.

Martin Copenhaver: Introverts and Extroverts

Sunday July 02, 2017
I am convinced Jesus was an introvert. After all, he was a pastor who was always running away from his congregation. His ministry was characterized by intense engagement with people in rhythm with time alone or with a few close friends.

Martin Copenhaver: Still Not Dead Again Today

Thursday June 15, 2017
In Willie Nelson's new album there is a song reflecting on his experience of reading on the internet that he had died the day before. He sounds downright chipper as he sings: "I woke up still not dead again today."

Martin Copenhaver: The Serious Business of Joy

Wednesday January 25, 2017
Jesus and his followers did not fast as often as others did. In fact, Jesus relished food and drink so much that some accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard. Beyond that, Jesus just seemed to be having too good a time. There's got to be something wrong with that, or so concluded some of his contemporaries.

Martin Copenhaver: Asking the Right Question

Thursday December 01, 2016
Nostalgia is a particular temptation these days for those who care about the church and see the church changing in ways that can look a lot like diminishment.

Martin Copenhaver: Forgiving and Forgetting

Friday November 04, 2016
In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet announces God's new covenant and makes a promise. God says, 'I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more' (Jeremiah 31:34). In forgiving, God chooses not to remember.

Martin Copenhaver: Prayer in the Midst of a Bar Fight

Sunday October 30, 2016
'I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.' - 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Timothy's admonition seems particularly timely. Thus far, the presidential campaign has been about as godly and dignified as a bar fight.

Martin Copenhaver: A Father-in-Law's Love

Sunday July 31, 2016
The love most parents have for their children comes naturally. It is not worthy of much praise. Instead, it is expected that parents will love their own children. After all, parents are genetically pre-disposed to love their children.

Martin Copenhaver: Death and Life in a Small New Hampshire Church

Tuesday July 19, 2016
My cousin Pam lived alone on a small New Hampshire farm she inherited from her parents. We did not see each other often, but the contours of her face and particularly the cadence of her voice were such that you wouldn’t need a DNA test to know we are related.

Martin Copenhaver: The Psalmist Gets the Blues

Saturday July 02, 2016
There are more prayers of lament in the Bible than there are prayers of praise. Fully one third of the psalms are psalms of lament. Psalm 42 is one of them.

Martin Copenhaver: Titles Fancy and Plain

Friday June 03, 2016
Recently I have been thinking about titles and their significance....

Martin Copenhaver: Just When You Least Expect It

Sunday May 29, 2016
I was a bit taken aback when I opened the gospel reading in the lectionary recently and found that it told the story of the Annunciation””the announcement that Mary is to give birth to the Son of God. I expect this reading in Advent, but in the middle of May?

Martin Copenhaver: Room to Grow

Sunday February 21, 2016
As a boy, when I went shopping for clothes with my mother, she would always ask me to try on items that were about a size too large to fit me perfectly. If the jeans I tried on were a bit long, she considered them just right because they left me 'room to grow.'

Martin Copenhaver: Pray Constantly

Tuesday January 19, 2016
This is what a day of praying without ceasing might look like...

Martin Copenhaver: Chained...And Yet Unhindered

Saturday December 12, 2015
Each one of us is limited””by our circumstances, by our limited gifts, by character flaws, or even by chains””and yet the Holy Spirit still can be at work in and through us.

Martin Copenhaver: "Didn't I Wash Your Feet?"

Friday November 20, 2015
It is good to know that Jesus' followers are still capable of shocking others by their outrageous behavior. After all, we are following a master who consistently shocked others by doing outrageous things””like washing his disciples' feet, a servant's task.

Martin Copenhaver: Keep the Paradox

Friday November 06, 2015
When Howard Dean ran for president in 2004 he was asked to name his favorite book of the New Testament. He replied, 'The Book of Job.' I winced a bit at his reply. You see, for nine years I was Howard's pastor.

Martin Copenhaver: Remember Me?

Sunday October 04, 2015
I remember the first time my grandmother was not able to recognize me. I was in high school at the time. The look on her face revealed that she had no idea who had just walked into her room.

Martin Copenhaver: God's Holy Fools

Friday August 14, 2015
Jesus had given his disciples a stunning glimpse of God's power and all they could see or remember was a picnic in the sun.

Martin Copenhaver: The Stuff of God

Sunday August 02, 2015
My wife and I are moving from a 10-room house with an attic and basement, as bulging as chipmunk cheeks, to a four room apartment. Neck-deep in the detritus of our lives, of course we have concluded that we have too much.

Martin Copenhaver: How Can I Keep from Singing?

Sunday July 26, 2015
Paul and Silas are in Philippi to tell the story of Jesus when they are accused of disturbing the peace. So they are badly beaten and thrown in jail. But notice how they react to the chains, the bruised limbs, the defeat of their plans. They hold choir practice. They sing.

Martin Copenhaver: Before You Eat That Carrot...

Thursday July 16, 2015
Researchers have found that performing a simple ritual before a meal can enhance the experience””the flavor of the food is intensified, the meal is enjoyed more. I knew this even before reading the research.

Martin Copenhaver: From My to Our

Wednesday July 01, 2015
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been studying our use of pronouns in Facebook posts. They discovered that the use of first-person singular pronouns like I and me is higher among younger users. Older folks tend to use more first-person plural pronouns, like we and our.

Martin Copenhaver: Aim Low

Friday October 03, 2014
Sometimes we are too tolerant of mediocrity in the church. We rightly want to be accepting of people but then slip into thinking that any effort””no matter how sloppy or half-hearted””is also acceptable because it happens in a church.

Martin Copenhaver: Jesus Wept

Wednesday September 24, 2014
In a recent article in The New York Times, Roy Peter Clark, a teacher of writing, reflects on the unique power of a short sentence: "Jesus wept."

Martin Copenhaver: Do This in Remembrance

Tuesday September 09, 2014
Last month I came across a little notebook with grease-splattered pages about the size of large index cards. On each card is a recipe, written in my mother's warm, yet tidy, handwriting. My mother died almost twenty years ago, so coming across this notebook was a bit like finding hidden treasure, but with a huge helping of poignancy.

Martin Copenhaver: Fresh Notebooks

Friday September 05, 2014
When I was young, I loved anticipating the first day of school. On the night before that first day, I would study the roster of my class as if it were holy writ and fantasize that many of the classmates I did not yet know would all soon become good friends.

Martin Copenhaver: Addressed by Name

Tuesday August 26, 2014
It is almost axiomatic that nothing is as musical to the ear as the sound of one's own name. That is not from sheer vanity. Rather, we long to be addressed, for words to find us where we live.

Martin Copenhaver: Marty

Thursday August 14, 2014
In the Academy-award winning movie, Marty, Ernest Borgnine plays a homely butcher who lives in Brooklyn. Marty is in his late thirties and lives with his mother. He spends Saturday nights hanging around with his friend Angie.

Martin Copenhaver: If God Knows Our Prayers Already...

Saturday August 09, 2014
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that God knows our prayers before we utter them. That assertion invites an obvious question: If God knows our prayers already, why do we have to offer prayers?

Martin Copenhaver: He Had a Name

Saturday July 26, 2014
Like so much of Jesus' teachings, this parable upends the usual order of things. In the world, rich men's names are known and beggars are often treated as nameless.

Martin Copenhaver: Habits

Friday June 27, 2014
When it comes to leading a moral life, we tend to emphasize the decisions a person makes. But in such matters, habits are even more important than decisions.

Martin Copenhaver: Secret Giving

Saturday June 14, 2014
While a friend and I were waiting at the counter for our coffee, he asked, 'Do you wait to put something in the tip jar until the barista can see you doing it?'

Martin Copenhaver: Cake or Death?

Sunday June 01, 2014
Comedian Eddie Izzard has a classic routine in which he imagines how the Inquisition would have been conducted if the Church of England had been in charge. He imagines the Anglican priests being far too genteel to torture their victims.

Martin Copenhaver: Too Close for Comfort

Thursday May 15, 2014
Often what stands in the way of religious unity are not great differences, but rather the small differences.

Martin Copenhaver: Good-Bye

Sunday April 27, 2014
One of the reasons parting is so difficult is that, in parting, we confront our limits. We cannot be both here and there. We cannot be with all the people we care about. We cannot lay hold of what is ahead without in some way letting go of what is past.

Martin Copenhaver: The One Who Stands By Our Side

Sunday April 13, 2014
According to John, after Jesus concludes his public ministry, he spends a considerable amount of time with his disciples preparing them for what lies ahead. As Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, his disciples have a multitude of questions.

Martin Copenhaver: Christians Are Joyful Sinners

Tuesday April 01, 2014
Does worship in your church include a prayer of confession? If so, it is probably near the beginning of the service. One reason for this placement is that God's presence reveals things to us. In God's clarifying presence we see things about our lives that we might not see otherwise.

Martin Copenhaver: Breathing Spaces

Saturday February 22, 2014
In our already overcrowded lives, another space is being taken away. When I was learning to type, I was taught that you should have two spaces after a period before starting a new sentence. Now we are told, by no less an arbiter than The Chicago Manual of Style, that one space is the norm.

Martin Copenhaver: Leaning Toward the Future

Thursday January 02, 2014
The Christian gospel, though rooted in history, is always forward-leaning.

Martin Copenhaver: Rejoice! Again I say, Rejoice!

Sunday December 22, 2013
The call to rejoice is a common theme in scripture. Over and over we are instructed to rejoice and, indeed, commanded to rejoice. Obviously, someone thinks this rejoicing business is pretty important.

Martin Copenhaver: Abundance or Scarcity?

Tuesday December 03, 2013
The biblical narrative speaks of abundance. But the narrative by which we are tempted to live is another story entirely, a story of scarcity, where there is never enough.

Martin Copenhaver: I Don't Envy You

Sunday November 17, 2013
A new term has come into common parlance these days: Facebook Envy. Researchers have found, and many people have experienced, that spending time on Facebook can make people more envious.

Martin Copenhaver: Come on In, the Water's Fine

Wednesday October 23, 2013
Have you noticed that most people, when they come to worship, don't sit up front? The back of the church tends to fill up first almost as predictably as the bottom of a glass will be the first to be filled with water. Why is that?

Martin Copenhaver: Nostalgia Ain't What It Used to Be

Saturday October 12, 2013
Nostalgia is a very natural and powerful emotion, particularly for those of us who are older. But nostalgia has its dangers.

Martin Copenhaver: Eyes of the Heart Enlightened

Sunday September 22, 2013
When our children were young, dinner time was always something a circus. Feats of wonder were performed. For instance, when our son was a toddler he liked to throw toast over his shoulder and never once did it land jelly-side up.

Martin Copenhaver: Got Rhythm?

Thursday September 12, 2013
Everyone is talking about balance these days. We want more balance in our lives. We strive for the right balance between our work lives and the rest of our lives. But, frankly, to me the whole concept of balance sounds exhausting, like balancing on one foot or balancing a tray of full glasses while walking on a rocky path - I can do it, to be sure, but not for long.

Martin Copenhaver: Normal Families

Saturday September 07, 2013
In a town called Normal, Illinois, there is a lovely sculpture in a park that features a husband and wife embracing and looking lovingly into each other's eyes, while their young children sit contented on their laps. The sculpture is entitled, 'The Normal Family.'

Martin Copenhaver: We Need More Saints

Thursday August 22, 2013
We Protestants need more saints.

Martin Copenhaver: Endurance Tests

Friday August 16, 2013
Early in my ministry I served First Congregational Church (UCC) in Burlington, Vermont. Every Wednesday morning for nine years, I led a Bible study with a group made up largely of women in their seventies and eighties. They had been meeting each week for longer than they could remember, which means, for some of them, since before I was born.

Martin Copenhaver: Mystery in the Sand

Thursday August 08, 2013
I have just come back from a long walk on a secluded beach that, unbelievably, is only about 50 miles from Manhattan, as the crow flies (a funny expression, now that I think of it, because there are no crows here, only the occasional seagull).

Martin Copenhaver: Deacons Doing Dishes

Sunday July 14, 2013
In God's realm, everything is turned upside down, and many of our assumptions begin to shake loose. To lead is to be a servant, as Jesus was a servant.

Martin Copenhaver: Reading a Love Letter

Wednesday July 03, 2013
You have to really want to read something to read it in a moving chariot. After all, roads were rough in those days and shock absorbers had not yet been invented. But here is this Ethiopian eunuch returning home from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, reading from the prophet Isaiah while riding in his chariot.

Martin Copenhaver: Memory and Personhood

Sunday June 23, 2013
Our memories are so much a part of who we are that it can be hard to imagine who we would be without them. In some sense we are what we remember.

Martin Copenhaver: Yes

Tuesday June 11, 2013
A while back I was asked to summarize the Gospel in seven words or less. Here is what I came up with: God gets the last word. If I were asked to summarize the Gospel in just one word, however, it would be the word Yes.

Martin Copenhaver: Life or Death? You Choose

Thursday May 23, 2013
People of faith and faith communities can play a unique role in addressing the environmental crisis. That does not mean we will, however.

Martin Copenhaver: Being Available 24/6

Sunday May 05, 2013
Recently I sat next to a man at the movies who spent the entire time working with his Blackberry hand-held computer and then sending text messages on his cell phone. Occasionally, he would look up at the big screen, but then he would bow his head to the tiny screens in his lap.

Martin Copenhaver: Whispered in Your Ear

Monday April 15, 2013
When Jesus emerged from the baptismal waters, dripping like an infant fresh from the womb, the Spirit of God descended upon him and a voice from heaven said, You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you.

Martin Copenhaver: The Things That Last

Monday March 25, 2013
As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!

Martin Copenhaver: Holy Places

Thursday February 28, 2013
Protestants often pooh-pooh the whole notion of holy places. Other religions, and other traditions within Christianity, have shrines and temples where God's presence is thought to be patently manifest. By contrast, Protestants usually are more comfortable affirming that God can be encountered anywhere, rather than in any particular place.

Martin Copenhaver: The Feast in Your Pocket

Tuesday February 19, 2013
We tend to devalue small things. Jesus never does. Instead, he points to the power in small things that we might so easily overlook.

Martin Copenhaver: Home

Saturday February 09, 2013
Home. It is hard to think of another word with as many deep resonances. Whether we are responding to the presence or the absence of something called home, the word itself seems to echo in the deeper recesses of our hearts.

Martin Copenhaver: What I Learned at the Tattooists Convention

Thursday January 31, 2013
I once participated in a small gathering of United Church of Christ officers and pastors charged with considering how we can become a more multi-racial and multi-cultural church. Around the table were African Americans, European Americans, a Native American, a Japanese American, Latinos and Latinas

Martin Copenhaver: Cheerful Givers

Thursday January 24, 2013
God loves a cheerful giver, says the Apostle Paul. But is there any other kind? In my experience givers are cheerful. I have never known any truly giving person who has not been a person of cheer. Joy is one of the indelible characteristics of the giving person.

Martin Copenhaver: Two Stories of Forgiveness

Thursday January 17, 2013
Last week, while at prayer, I suddenly discovered - or felt as if I did - that I had really forgiven someone I have been trying to forgive for over thirty years

Martin Copenhaver: Staying Close to the Water

Friday December 28, 2012
Jesus said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

Martin Copenhaver: Do This In Remembrance of Me

Thursday November 22, 2012
If memories are deep and have a hold on us, they will soon be beyond the reach of words. If our memories are powerful they simply outgrow words, and one longs for something more than a story. We want something that looks and feels more like life itself.

Martin Copenhaver: Zapping Ourselves

Saturday October 20, 2012
According the book of Acts, the early followers of Jesus held "all things in common." Living in a culture like ours, that can sound like an impossible ideal. And no wonder: we are losing our sense of having a common life.

Chris Yaw Interviews Martin Copenhaver: Concentrating on Adult Formation Grows the Church

Thursday October 04, 2012
Ask anyone at Pastor Martin Copenhaver’s Wellesley Congregational Church what their community’s purpose is and you’ll get, ”˜Growing in faith.” That’s behind an increased emphasis on adult faith formation. In this interview, Martin, a noted author, speaker, and UCC minister, shares about adult, and pastoral faith formation programs – as well as his Ten Marks of a Healthy Church.

Martin Copenhaver: But Can You Dance to It?

Friday September 14, 2012
Those who remain forever on the sidelines may avoid the risk of commitment, but they will never experience the joy of dancing. A devotion on Luke 7:24-35.

Martin Copenhaver: God's Perfume

Sunday August 19, 2012
In scripture there are many descriptions of the kind of life we are to live. The Apostle Paul offers a particularly vivid image. He says we are to be "the aroma of Christ."

StillSpeaking Devotional: The God of Second Chances

Tuesday July 31, 2012
I love officiating at weddings for second marriages. In fact, I often prefer them to weddings for first marriages. I know that might sound strange because, of course, you cannot have a second marriage without a first ending either in death or divorce, two of the saddest realities of all.

Martin Copenhaver: We Need More Saints

Saturday July 14, 2012
Protestants need more saints. The Roman Catholics have over 10,000 canonized saints. By my count, we Protestants have as few as five.

Martin Copenhaver: What's to Become of the Double-Minded?

Monday July 02, 2012
Why does the writer of Psalm 119 envision God saying, "I hate the double-minded?" What's so wrong with being of two minds?

Video by The Rev. Martin Copenhaver

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A Messy Desk - The Rev. Martin Copenhaver

Monday June 17, 2013
Martin Copenhaver speaks to us about the state of his desk, and what it has taught him about his soul.

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel & Rev. Martin Copenhaver - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Friday October 28, 2011
This week our host, Peter Wallace, sits down with the authors of the new book "This Odd And Wondrous Calling," The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel and The Rev. Martin Copenhaver.