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On Fathers, Sasquatch, and Turning Life Around

[Note: This post was first published on an old blog in 2011 just as I was leaving ministry]


My father on our western road trip

My father on our western road trip


My Sacred Place

It’s not Machu Picchu, Lourdes, or the Great Pyramid of Giza, but this place in the clouds is just as sacred.  Here, on the upper rungs of Jacob’s ladder, my breathing stills, my pace slows, my body attunes.  The scent of cedar and fir, the peek-a-boo vistas, and the faint sound of a fisherman’s outboard a thousand meters below, ignite my spirit.

I scale this mountain when I need to push reset, wrestle with the angels, or do a 180 with my life.  But my pilgrimage doesn’t begin at the foot of this climb, or even where I live in Vancouver.  It starts in a steel-town on the other side of the country, in the summer of 1980. read more…

Why I Left Ministry: An Open Letter to Family, Friends, Colleagues, and Parishioners

Learn to… be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel

Dear Loved Ones (and anyone else 😉 ),

Want to know why I left ministry?  If you could care less, that’s fine.  Click, move on, it’s all good.

In October 2011, I left the pulpit.  I’m not alone.  In fact over one and a half thousand pastors leave the ministry every month.  That’s a lot of clergy shirts heading to the Sally Ann!  Funny enough, when I left, I boxed up my entire theological library and tried passing it off on my colleagues at my last ministerial.  They took two or three books.  Vancouver’s used bookstores weren’t much better—I cashed out enough to buy a veggie burger and a pint of India Pale Ale.

So why did I leave?  Was it for any of the reasons you may assume: read more…

Clergy Careers: Going, Going…?

Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.
– Carl Sagan
 clergy careers

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
Did you guess which thing was not like the others? 
Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?
If you guessed that clergy are not like the others,
then you’re absolutely…right,  
but not for long!  
– Sesame Street
(with a bit of creative license 😉 )

Are professional clergy an endangered species, headed into the career museum to join the milkman, the lamplighter, and the elevator operator?  I think so.  At least clergy careers in their current configuration.  Consider: read more…

After the Pulpit Episode Two: The Naked Pastor

On this episode, After the Pulpit interviews the Naked Pastor!  

David Hayward was a minister for almost 30 years in a variety of contexts and theological flavours. He’s spent time in Anglican and Baptist churches, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Vineyard and independent churches. In all of these places he experienced many points of light, primarily in community, but also a deep and almost immediate questioning of his calling as a pastor. Four years ago, he left ministry—cold turkey, just like that, with no safety net, at a time when he and his wife had just declared bankruptcy. David’s story is compelling and inspiring. I loved speaking with him and hope you enjoy my conversation with the Naked Pastor as well.

read more…

The Learn’d Astronomer and Preaching


When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured
with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

– Walt Whitman

Like Whitman with the learned astronomer, I tired of listening to sermons—my own that is.  I stopped preaching a page or two early a number of times.  And if I was ready to reach for the remote on hearing myself, I can only imagine how my parishioners felt.   read more…

Ministry: A Polyester Suit in a Heatwave?


When considering leaving ministry, I got out the scales to weigh a list of the most significant pros/cons.  If you’re still in ministry, I commend this simple exercise to gain some objectivity in your decision.  Two years removed now, here’s my list:  read more…

Oscar’s Oracle: Called to Ministry

Peter and Oma (Called to ministry, Peter practicing his chanting no doubt!)

Oscar Kurtz, resident Holy Man of my parent’s Bible study group, took one glance at all 7 ½ lbs of me (fresh out of the womb) and proclaimed,
“Peter, you will be a fisher of men.”  Just like Simon Peter — Saint Peter — my gospel doppelgänger.  Damn.  Couldn’t the good prophet have proclaimed me the next Pablo Picasso?  Or Bobby Orr?  Shoot, I’d have settled for second string quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders!  Surely I looked up from the comfort of my mother’s arms and cried, “Hell no Old Man.  You’ve got the wrong bundle of boy!”  read more…

The Roosters

Harry Jerome Running Statue Vancouver

I’m back.  Huffing.  Plodding.  Puking (almost).  After 2 months of injury and three years of procrastination, I’m running again. High five!

I’ve always felt most inspired, creative and alive when I run, write and meditate every day.  However, it’s easy not to do what I want to do, and even easier to do what I don’t want to do (eat a brick of cheese with a litre of red wine).  I just ran for the eleventh day in a row, and apart from my favourite new Android app Habit Flow, I’ve found another source of accountability: strangers. read more…

After the Pulpit Episode One: The New Normal

 3, 2, 1, we’re on the air!  

Welcome to the first episode of After the Pulpit.  Sit down with Peter and his family for a breakfast of Belgian waffles, tofu sausage and a carafe of fresh coffee as they discuss life before and after the pulpit and what Peter’s vision for this podcast/blog is all about.

read more…