The Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt

Denomination: The Episcopal Church (TEC)

The Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, author The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times, holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation and directs the Rueben P. Job Institute for Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

An Episcopal priest, spiritual director, and retreat leader, he is the author of seven books, including When Suffering Persists and What God Wants for Your Life.

He also writes and blogs at Patheos.com.

Schmidt and his wife, Natalie, live in Chicago with their Gordon Setter, Hilda.

Articles by The Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt

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Frederick Schmidt: What Is 'The Dave Test'?

Monday November 18, 2013
The Dave Test is a set of ten questions you can ask yourself when life sucks or before you talk to someone whose life is in the same sort of place.

Frederick Schmidt: The Dave Test: Can I Say 'Life Sucks'?

Monday November 18, 2013
'That sucks.' Can you even get those words out of your mouth? A lot of us can’t. There was a time when I couldn’t. The language isn’t the issue, of course. It’s the struggle to be honest about just how hard and ugly life can be.

Frederick Schmidt: Lent: It's More Fun Than You Think

Monday November 18, 2013
Lent is spiritual jujitsu. Just as jujitsu uses the strength of one’s opponent against him, Lent uses the strength of owning our weakness against the power of our weakness to overwhelm us. Imagine these possibilities and apply them to your own life...

Frederick Schmidt: Before You Celebrate Easter, Get Real

Monday November 18, 2013
Some years ago I was invited to preach at a Good Friday service. I preached on the subject of death””all of which seemed to fit. But the choice of subject prompted one member of the congregation to complain, 'Why didn’t you focus on the resurrection?'

Frederick Schmidt: Religious Liberty: Free Is What We Are

Monday November 18, 2013
The genius of the American experiment lies in the conviction that freedom is not given by the state, but is an inalienable gift given to human beings as God's creation.

Frederick Schmidt: Leadership in Anxious Times: Six Lessons for the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
Nothing sidelines an institution faster than contraction and flailing that is labeled as vision and the dawning of a new era.

Frederick Schmidt: Burning Snow: St. John Climacus

Monday November 18, 2013
Saint John Climacus, a seventh century monk at the monastery on Mt. Sinai was admired for his spiritual depth. As a result, a neighboring monastery asked him to serve as their spiritual director. We don’t know much about Climacus, but it is reasonably certain that the one book he wrote, The Ladder of Divine Ascent was written in response to that request.

Frederick Schmidt: Preaching on Suffering and Loss: Some Advice

Monday November 18, 2013
Here are five preaching tips from one who sits in the pew and knows what goes on in the study as you prepare.

Frederick Schmidt: Interim Ministry: Silver Bullet or Substitute for Action?

Monday November 18, 2013
Notwithstanding the intelligent, gifted work that its practitioners are doing, interim ministry has slowed our growth and robbed us of resources for building the Kingdom.

Frederick Schmidt: Is the Islamic State Islamic?

Monday November 18, 2013
If the descriptive shoe fits, from a sociological or anthropological point of view, you have to wear it.

Frederick Schmidt: Demonizing Difference and the Word Police

Monday November 18, 2013
One of the more disturbing developments in Progressive Christian thought of late is the demonizing of difference.

Frederick Schmidt: What Is a Seminary Faculty?

Monday November 18, 2013
As we discuss curriculum revision at my own seminary, I’ve found myself thinking anew about what it means to be part of a seminary faculty. Watching events embroil other seminary faculties in troubling conflict, that question has gained considerable urgency.

Frederick Schmidt: Vocation and Jobs

Monday November 18, 2013
I’ve been through two employment crises. Three if you include the uncertain business of doing doctoral work against the backdrop of a changing academy and a shrinking church. This is a piece of what I have learned: Focus on vocation ”” on God’s calling on your life.

Frederick Schmidt: It's Not All About You

Monday November 18, 2013
For people who don’t believe that there is a god, atheists have a lot to say about the subject. One of the latest arguments also rates as one of the more narcissistic defenses I’ve heard offered for atheism: Jesus didn’t 'return his calls.'

Frederick Schmidt: "Done" with the Wrong Kind of Church

Monday November 18, 2013
Mark Sandlin recently wrote a telling article on the rise of the 'Dones,' people who have been active in the church and their departure. The article hit a deep nerve and a number of people declared themselves among this new, disaffected tribe.

Frederick Schmidt: We Need a Francis

Monday November 18, 2013
Francis has taken a different approach to his papacy in ways that signal a visual and symbolic, if not always substantive difference from his predecessors.

Frederick Schmidt: 'Je Suis Charlie'

Monday November 18, 2013
The terrorist attacks on the offices of Charlie Hedbo in Paris, then, are without excuse, unacceptable, and deserving of swift justice. What we can do as citizens and Christians is harder to name. But, at a minimum, we can and should do this:

Frederick Schmidt: The Language of Lent: Repentance

Monday November 18, 2013
Lent is making something of a comeback as Christians who historically have observed the season bump up against those who don’t in the blogosphere. But the language of Lent, which is rooted in larger Christian practice, often makes people uncomfortable.

Frederick Schmidt: Reimagining the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
The phrase, 'think globally, act locally' is attributed to Patrick Geddes, a Scottish philanthropist, town planner, biologist, and sociologist. The idea, though not the exact phrase, appears in his book, Cities in Evolution, which was published in 1915. Well ahead of his time, Geddes was at pains to argue for an approach to urban planning that took the surrounding environs into account.

Frederick Schmidt: Rare Prayer: Cries of Lament

Monday November 18, 2013
Rebekah Eklund’s book explores the role of lament in the Old Testament, where it is common. But she goes on to note that – in spite of assertions to the contrary – prayers of lament can be found in the New Testament as well and, in particular, in the life and teaching of Jesus. Hence the title of her new book: Jesus Wept: The Significance of Jesus’ Laments in the New Testament.

Frederick Schmidt: "Dear Rev...."

Monday November 18, 2013
We sit there Sunday after Sunday. We do our own faith-work, coming to conclusions about what matters and doesn’t, about what we believe and about what we don’t believe. Help us to understand you and help yourself to communicate the Gospel. Please consider the following advice...

Frederick Schmidt: 12 Things that your Pastor, Priest, or Minister Wishes You Knew

Monday November 18, 2013
12 Things that your Pastor, Priest, or Minister Wishes You Knew...

Frederick Schmidt: 10 Things Your Clergy Should Tell You Before You Get Married

Monday November 18, 2013
Behind closed doors clergy often ruefully observe that they would rather officiate at a funeral than preside at a wedding. That sounds harsh, but I’m convinced that it’s because most of us watch in frustration as weddings, as well as marriages, get off on the wrong foot. Here’s what your clergy wants you to know:

Frederick Schmidt: On Retiring and Changing Jobs: "Leaving Well" As a Spiritual Exercise

Monday November 18, 2013
This is the season in many people change jobs or retire. Some of those changes are governed by the academic calendar, some by the change in seasons, and some by tradition. There has been a great deal written on preparing for the work world and the challenge of navigating its demands, but far less has been written on leaving well and retiring.

Frederick Schmidt: What Do You Do With Doubt?

Monday November 18, 2013
What do you do with doubt? The answers to that question are as varied as the history of doubt itself.

Frederick Schmidt: 6 things people need to hear from churches (but are rarely said)

Monday November 18, 2013
Frankly, I’m not convinced that the statistics charted by Pew are even 'a trend.' It could be argued that Americans are just getting honest about how disenchanted they are with church. Trend or not, the disenchantment can be traced to six things that people need to hear from churches, but are rarely said...

Frederick Schmidt: 7 Reasons Why the Church Should Learn to Disagree

Monday November 18, 2013
According to experts great and small, we’ve lost our ability to disagree. Rather than discuss our differences and stay in conversation with one another, we go on the attack. We belittle, judge, and demonize one another. And, when all else fails, we walk away.

Frederick Schmidt: 12 Things Clergy Spouses Want You to Know

Monday November 18, 2013
I have experience as a clergy person and as the spouse of a clergy person. The spouses don’t often get a chance to tell their own story, but if they could, here are twelve things I think they would want you to know...

Frederick Schmidt: 12 Questions Leaders Need to Ask Themselves

Monday November 18, 2013
Religious leaders cannot control what everyone in their circle chooses to do. That kind of control has never been possible and the challenge is even greater today.

Frederick Schmidt: Seven Things the Holy Spirit Might Be Trying to Tell You

Monday November 18, 2013
I’ve come to the conclusion that often what the Spirit of God has to say to us is far more practical, blunt, and candid. Here are a few things I’ve heard or that others have reported hearing...

Frederick Schmidt: Nine Ways Your Pastor Can Help You Plan for a Funeral

Monday November 18, 2013
In recent years churches have made a greater effort to prepare members of their congregations for death. But much of that conversation is still squarely focused on advanced directives and clergy often delegate that responsibility to people who know more about the attendant legal complexities. That, no doubt, is an appropriate choice.

Frederick Schmidt: The Making of Zombie Theologians: Catechesis, Spiritual Direction, and the Future of the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
In an age of growing individualism and disdain for every kind of authority, it is not surprising that catechesis became inextricably associated with a narrow, rote, and unsophisticated approach to theological formation.

Frederick Schmidt: Body Image and 5 Paths to Freedom

Monday November 18, 2013
Millions of women are subjected to abuse in smaller, unseen, and unacknowledged ways that subvert the lives, long before they are allowed to own the lives that God has given them.

Frederick Schmidt: The Wrong Side of History

Monday November 18, 2013
Trust God. Be faithful, obedient, courageous. Forget about finding out what is the right side of history.

Frederick Schmidt: 6 Questions We Need to Answer about Clergy Formation

Monday November 18, 2013
Over the years I have been struck by the isolation that seminarians and young clergy experience. Falling prey to financial burdens that clergy salaries do not address and to congregational dynamics that receive little or no attention, the struggles he describes are widespread and corrosive.

Frederick Schmidt: 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Stuck

Monday November 18, 2013
Some people get stuck in the past, trapped by regret, guilt, or unaddressed injustice. Some get stuck in the present with patterns of behavior that are frustrating, but appear to be intractable. And others are stuck in the future, more often than not, by fear.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Things the Church Should Tell the Candidates for President

Monday November 18, 2013
Dear Candidates for President of the United States (yes, all of you): On the subject of politics and religion: Please don’t mix the two…in the name of personal morality or in the name of social justice.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Spiritual Truths that Won’t Change with the Election of a New President

Monday November 18, 2013
The climate of the current campaign for President of the United States would suggest that we have forgotten the lesson of 1 and 2 Kings.

Frederick Schmidt: Dealing with Job’s Facebook Friends: 5 Thoughts on Suffering & Social Media

Monday November 18, 2013
A dear friend who has navigated cancer of his own is now facing that journey with his wife. Her cancer, sadly, is far more virulent and, tied as it is, to a genetic marker, the little monster is not going away.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Ways to Age without Getting Old

Monday November 18, 2013
I found myself musing about the experience of aging. Here are some provisional conclusions I’ve drawn that might be helpful in doing what we all do, if we are lucky enough to check another birthday off the calendar...

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Keys to Surviving Spiritually as a Leader in the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
ife in the church is a gift. But life in the church can also be tough. Along the way there are occasions for disillusionment, grief, and anger, particularly when the promise of life in the church falls short of its promise.

Frederick Schmidt: The Last Enemy

Monday November 18, 2013
Death is not just our enemy. It is God’s enemy and it is the last enemy. It is not just the final, painful place that spoils all of our dreams, ends our days on earth, and robs us of our relationships. It is an apparent contradiction to God’s claim to be God, God’s claim to have made us in God’s own image, God’s claim to be the Lord of life.

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Ways the Church Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

Monday November 18, 2013
The journey into God that transforms us and leads us into deeper connection with God lies at the heart of spiritual formation. Formation creates a space for that encounter to occur, and it nurtures the practice and virtues that makes that journey possible. But it is also widely misunderstood, even by churches.

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Ways the Culture Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

Monday November 18, 2013
Yesterday I described the four ways that the church misunderstands or misrepresents formation. This time I want to describe the four ways in which – from a Christian perspective ”” the culture misunderstands spiritual formation.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Priorities as We Vote

Monday November 18, 2013
I love my country and I do what I can to support it, to nurture it, and to make it a place that continues to strive for values that intersect with what we as Christians hold most dear. But my nation is not the kingdom of God, nor is it God’s agent of salvation.

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Ways Spiritual Direction Could Change the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
There are times when, as theological educators, we have the rare privilege of not only contributing to a discipline, but we also get a front row seat to historic change.

Frederick Schmidt: 3 Reasons Why Immortality Isn’t Everything It’s Cracked Up to Be

Monday November 18, 2013
Chinese tech giant, Huawei, is on a campaign to compete with religion beyond the grave. More accurately, I suppose, one could argue that with the company’s help, the Chinese government is trying to erase the need for religious convictions by making the grave irrelevant.

Frederick Schmidt: Don’t tell the unemployed, “It doesn’t make sense.”

Monday November 18, 2013
In a lot of cases, being fired, laid off, terminated, or 'made redundant' is like being taken out by a comet or like being hit by lightning. Most of us don’t register the shifting realities and sinking sand ”” the tiny clues that a new boss doesn’t like you or doesn’t care about the work that you do ”” until it’s too late.

Frederick Schmidt: Four Reasons for Abandoning the Term, Post-Christian

Monday November 18, 2013
From an historical or a cultural point of view the term 'post-Christian'may have some, very limited utility. But from a theological point of view and from the vantage point of the church’s self-understanding, I’m not so sure.

Frederick Schmidt: The Decoder Ring Approach to Revelation

Monday November 18, 2013
The decoder ring approach to reading the book of Revelation has, sadly, become the de facto orthodox approach to interpreting it. As a result, the vast majority of people, when asked about their views of the book often assume that it should be read as a roadmap to our lives or, more accurately, the end of our lives. There are countless problems with this approach to reading the Book of Revelation, but here are my top three.

Frederick Schmidt: Public Discourse and The Language of Derision

Monday November 18, 2013
The language of derision has become increasingly commonplace in public discourse. The labels, stupid, elitist, racist, and their synonyms have become increasingly commonplace in public discourse.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 False Dichotomies that Disarm the Church in Times of Crisis

Monday November 18, 2013
How did we end up in a world in which some churches emphasize nothing but transcendent hope and others emphasize nothing but the political implications of the Gospel?

Frederick Schmidt: Part-Time Ministry and “The Myth of the Empty Church”

Monday November 18, 2013
Part-time or bi-vocational ministry is becoming commonplace, and frequently it is the go-to solution used by church leaders to address the needs of an increasing number of congregations.

Frederick Schmidt: Spirituality and Leadership in the Shadow of Chaos

Monday November 18, 2013
It is hard to remember how much idealism was thread through celebrations of the new millennium when you look back on it now. The palpable sense of tension, anxiety, conflict, and – in a word – chaos, seems to be thread through the global psyche.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Reasons Spirituality is No Longer Important to the American Church

Monday November 18, 2013
There are isolated and scattered signs of spiritual vitality in the American Protestantism. There are people and pastors who believe that spiritual practice is indispensible to the life of the church. There are a handful of denominational programs and an occasional bishop who emphasizes the spiritual life. And a handful of seminaries have given one kind of attention or another to the spiritual preparation of their students.

Frederick Schmidt: The Five Ways Music Contributes to Our Spiritual Lives

Monday November 18, 2013
Music can participate in the beauty and truth that is finally found in God. In the moment we sing or enter into the music offered in worship, then, we potentially find ourselves in close communion with the divine and with the creative nature of God.

Frederick Schmidt: How Do Saints Respond to Suffering?

Monday November 18, 2013
Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen at all? Both questions lie at the bottom of an ocean of ink spilled over millennia. Over the years I’ve become convinced of two things: One, there is no entirely satisfactory answer to either question. And, two, the questions themselves are not the ones to which the Christian tradition finally provides an answer.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Reasons to “Get off the cross” (apart from, “We need the wood”)

Monday November 18, 2013
For those who are in 'helping professions,' the tendency to climb up on the cross (in this sense) is a constant temptation. Clergy, counselors, physicians, nurses, first responders, and a host of others are often inclined to climb up there and it’s never a good thing. Here are some of the reasons why...

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Choices Boomers Made that are Killing Mainline Protestantism

Monday November 18, 2013
Last month the Public Religion Research Institute released new statistics that chronicle the demographic shifts in religious affiliation. The one group that has grown exponentially is the so-called Nones, or religiously unaffiliated. The unaffiliated now represent 25% of the country, up over 10% of their numbers in the 1990s.

Frederick Schmidt: Three Ways to Navigate Anniversaries of Loss

Monday November 18, 2013
When it comes to the anniversaries of loss – loss of a loved one, loss at work, loss in our homes, loss of dreams – I am pretty wary of easy suggestions. When I think back over my own anniversaries of loss, I’ve found the easy suggestions just make me angry: Angry at the insipid ease with which they are offered, angry at the way that they paper over life’s realities.

Frederick Schmidt: The Bunkum of 'Biblical Creation'

Monday November 18, 2013
The writer of Genesis is offering what we might call a 'confession of faith' in the primacy of the God of Israel. He is not writing a history of creation, never mind anything that might qualify as a scientific account of how God created the universe.

Frederick Schmidt: 3 Reasons Why Clergy Shouldn’t “Friend” the Members of Their Churches

Monday November 18, 2013
In class a subject surfaced that I don’t recall ever hearing discussed in seminary: Should pastors be their parishioners’ ”˜friend?’

Frederick Schmidt: 5 things the “Chopped” Kitchen Can Teach Us about Theological Education

Monday November 18, 2013
My wife and I love cooking meals together. We also enjoy watching cooking shows. One of our favorites is the 'Chopped' Kitchen in which four contestants are eliminated – or 'chopped' ”” as they attempt to use 'mystery baskets,' preparing an appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Reasons for Abandoning New Year’s Resolutions

Monday November 18, 2013
On one level, I have no specific objection to New Year’s resolutions. Any opportunity for change and improvement is a welcome occasion. Evidently, countless cultures have thought so as well. As far as I can tell the practice goes back to the Babylonians and has been renewed somewhere in the world ever since.

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Ways to “Future” the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
In a recent article on 'Futuring' in The Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims observes: 'The art and science of futuring is fast becoming a necessary skill, where we read signals, see trends and ruthlessly test our own assumptions.... It’s clear,' he notes, that 'we’re not going to make it through [our complex environment] as passengers.'

Frederick Schmidt: 2 Questions that Could Change Your Life

Monday November 18, 2013
One of the central practices in Jesuit devotion ”” the one that Ignatius of Loyola considered indispensable ”” was the prayer of Examen. Ignatius felt that the key to spiritual growth was to cultivate an awareness of when and where God had been present in the course of the day. It was so important, in fact, that he urged his followers to do the Examen, even if it cost them the little time that they might have for prayer.

Frederick Schmidt: What do you do after a “mountaintop” experience?

Monday November 18, 2013
Spiritual highs of this kind depend a good deal on the way that we understand them and their role in our lives.

Frederick Schmidt: The Barking Dog of Congregational Vitality

Monday November 18, 2013
Congregational vitality is still on the front burner in conversations about the church. Noting that on average, 9 churches close their doors everyday, the Episcopal Church Building Fund has launched a recasting process, designed to help parishes evaluate their communities, reevaluate the deployment of their resources, achieve a sustainable budget, and rediscover a measure of relevance to the communities around them.

Frederick Schmidt: Lent is not a tightrope, it’s a journey.

Monday November 18, 2013
Popular assumptions about Lent come from a variety of places. Some arise out of the historical excesses that have surfaced from time to time in the life of the church. Other assumptions about Lent arise out of misunderstandings or a lack of familiarity with Lenten observance.

Frederick Schmidt: 3 Reasons We Find It Difficult to Lament

Monday November 18, 2013
Prayers of lament wedge their way into the American psyche from time to time, much of it in the form of music. One thinks of Mahaila Jackson’s rendition of 'Precious Lord, Take My Hand,' Lauryn Hill’s version of Bob Marley’s 'Redemption Song,' and Eric Clapton’s 'Holy Mary.'

Frederick Schmidt: The Real Work of Bishops

Monday November 18, 2013
In his report from The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, Bishop Daniel Martins described a telling exchange...

Frederick Schmidt: On Confessing the Sins of Others

Monday November 18, 2013
Confessing the sins of others is an addictive practice. It feeds self-righteous certainty. It simplifies life’s complex demands. It elicits confirmation from those who share our views. It spares us the effort associated with thinking and reasoning carefully. Above all, it insulates us from the painful process of self-examination.

Frederick Schmidt: 5 Patterns that Erode the Ability of Leaders to Lead

Monday November 18, 2013
It is not surprising that patterns in leadership emerge on the congregational level that are corrosive – corrosive to the ministries of pastors themselves and corrosive to the parishes that they are called to lead.

Frederick Schmidt: Keeping the Partisan Faith

Monday November 18, 2013
A new study by political scientists notes that clergy, on the whole, are more partisan than their parishioners. Which raises the question: If clergy are tasked to 'keep the faith,' exactly what 'faith' is it that they “keep?” The faith of their respective religious traditions or the faith of their partisan political commitments? The study would suggest that far too often, it’s the latter.

Frederick Schmidt: Let Us Be the Church

Monday November 18, 2013
As the news spills out from every corner of the globe and as our capacity as a nation to respond seems to evaporate, I’ve found myself thinking about the church.

Frederick Schmidt: 4 Ways to Change the Way in which We Think about Generational Differences

Monday November 18, 2013
We have the good fortune of living in a world in which an ever-greater number of generations share the world at the same time. Advances in nutrition and medical care have increased our life expectancy. But what we have failed to do is to begin re-thinking the way in which we think about mentoring, aging, and sharing the tasks that lie ahead of us in creating a stronger, healthier society.

Frederick Schmidt: Do You Want Your Church?

Monday November 18, 2013
When I went to seminary in the seventies, the church was a given. I don’t recall the language of church growth and church planting figuring prominently, if at all, in the conversations we had, and we certainly weren’t talking about 'the decline of the mainline church' or 'the end of the Protestant Reformation.'

Frederick Schmidt: The Limits to Professional Boundaries

Monday November 18, 2013
Over the years I’ve seen and read a number of articles about professional boundaries and their application to work in the church. Much of that literature is very helpful and stakes out areas where abuse and exploitation are all too possible. One has to be grateful for the reminders that literature provides and the protection that it offers for those who might be vulnerable in one way or another.

Frederick Schmidt: God-given Weirdness

Monday November 18, 2013
Much of the literature on the fundamentalist – modernist controversy of the 1920s and 30s is described as the struggle of fundamentalists against modernity ”” its science, its ways of thinking, approaches to Scripture, and, in particular, the theory of evolution. But what we don’t talk about very much is the way in which the desire not be thought of as fundamentalist has shaped mainline Protestantism.

Frederick Schmidt: I Come to Bury Evangelicalism, Not to Praise It

Monday November 18, 2013
Coming from Scot McKnight, who is himself a leading evangelical voice, the summons to bury the movement this last week came as something of a theological earthquake. But in not very different terms from the title above, that was exactly what he suggested.

Frederick Schmidt: We Thank You All the Same

Monday November 18, 2013
Sometime ago I watched the film, 'Shenandoah.' James Stewart plays Charlie Anderson, a Virginia farmer who becomes embroiled unwillingly in the mayhem of the War Between the States. His family gathers at the dinner table, and Anderson prays....

Frederick Schmidt: Why the Conversation about Rights Won’t End Harassment

Monday November 18, 2013
Rightly, we have been discussing women’s rights in one form or another for nearly 170 years in the United States. None of that has effectively addressed the issues of objectification, exploitation, harassment or physical violence.

Frederick Schmidt: Four Models of Ministry

Monday November 18, 2013
This is about four ways of thinking about the priesthood and the ways in which you are implicated. Spoiler alert. Three of them are only part of the picture. The fourth and last way of thinking about this service makes sense of all the others.