ITLOTC 4-19-19


(In The Life Of The Church)


The Case for Rebuilding Notre Dame in a World of Suffering

I make lists of everything.

My favorite form of art is architecture.

As you might imagine, I have a list of favorite cathedrals.  You can quit holding your breath. Here it is:

  1. Notre Dame

  2. Sagrada Família

  3. St. Basil’s in Moscow

  4. Hallgrímskirkja

  5. Westminster

Or so I think; I haven’t seen them all in person.

When I saw Notre Dame burning this week i thought, “Oh shoot, when I have time and space to catch up to this tragedy emotionally, this will be sad because that’s my favorite cathedral.”  

Then I thought, “I bet I’ll write the newsletter about this.”

Then everyone wrote about Notre Dame.  There is nothing left to say. Or at least nothing I can think of that you haven’t read.  

Let’s highlight some of the things you’ve read about:

  1. We need beauty

  2. The Catholic Church is rich

  3. Other churches burned in Louisiana and you didn’t care

  4. Trump gave money to this, but not pipes to fix Flint’s water problem

  5. The cross is still standing inside the cathedral, that’s a miracle*

  6. This all happened during Holy Week … OMG what does that mean!!!???!!!

Because it’s Good Friday, i’d like to take on the “Don’t save Notre Dame, save the _____________” argument.

Here’s a quintessential expression of this argument:


That’s hard to argue with.  We even have a pretty direct analog in the temple and Jesus.  The Jewish devotion toward the temple supersedes our care for Notre Dame.  And yet, as the Debbie Downer meme suggests, I think you’d be hard pressed to convince Jesus that the temple mattered more than people.  Especially the people on the margin.

That being said, I’m now going to put forth my thesis.

We should cheerlead the restoration of Notre Dame, Flint water pipes, Puerto Rico, immigration reform, and all the other things you want to add to this list.  

Why? Because it can all be done.  

Yes, it is disappointing that people care about buildings more than people, but let’s hold out robust hope for all of it anyway.  

Here’s why:

  1. We need beauty.  See the other articles on the internet.

  2. Temples are inevitable.  (Wait, what did you say?)

My friend Wally Brueggemann argues that in the Bible you will find a motif of what he calls structure legitimation and the motif of pain embrace.

Structure Legitimation = David, Zionism, Paul trajectory, or what I like to call the Ronald Reagan tradition.

Pain Embrace = Moses wandering the desert, prophets, Jesus, or what I like to call the Jesse Jackson tradition

One has Jesus, so that wins, right?  Well maybe, but what is heaven and what are we going to do there?  You think those celestial pipe organs are 2nd rate. No, no my friends, eschatology is filled with grandeur and you need a vision for it.  

I could simplify the motifs this way.  The church will always have the prophet and priest.  It will always have moments and institutions. It’s why we have one theology that’s concerned about saving your soul from hell and one theology that’s concerned about saving you from social oppression. It’s Jew and Greek.

The movements are full of conscience and rebuke the institutions.  They gain momentum and then they unionize and formalize and find a leader.  Then they build a building. And then someone comes along someday and rebukes that movement, which has become an institution.  

It’s how it goes. I’m not even going to say that we need both.  Nah, I’m going to say the more honest thing. They are both inevitable.  

So this what you should do. Take $50. Give $10 to Puerto Rico, $10 to Flint Water Pipes, $10 to Louisiana churches, $10 to the social cause that you want to give to, and $10 to Notre Dame because God is interested in all of it.

*footnoted meme below

Town Hall Summary

This past Sunday UBC held a brief town hall to give everyone an update on happenings inside of the church aside from our current LGBTQ conversation, which has taken up much of attention and energy lately. Here is a summary of that discussion.

Finance: We currently have on hand 107K (roughly, as it is subject to change) in checking and 294K savings. We had a banner December of giving with $130K of donations in year end giving. In light of UBC’s recent discussion, the finance team has asked the staff to prepare a budget with a 10% decrease in spending. That budget is being finalized for finance team/leadership team approval this week.

HR: April is the month in which annual reviews are conducted. Those reviews are being conducted this week and next and will be produced for the leadership team by the end of April.

LGBTQ Discernment Process: Leadership team communicated that they would like to reiterate that the timeline for a conclusion to this process is not set in stone. They finished taking opinions on April 7th and are now looking over that data as they being their discerning process and move towards a vote. A question was asked about the disclosure of the information of opinions or a summary of the data. That question is being taken into consideration by the leadership team.

Building Update: For the time being, UBC is suspending pursuing the building project until we have a clearer picture of the financial state of the church after the decision has been made.

Sabbatical: Per the employee handbook, Josh is eligible for a sabbatical this summer. He has written a proposal for June, July and the first two weeks of August that he submitted to the leadership team. That proposal is being reviewed. If Josh is granted sabbatical, his preaching responsibilities will primarily be filled by Toph and Taylor.



Pastoral Associate Application

Hello potential pastoral associates. If you would like to work with the UBC staff on a volunteer basis for 5-10 hours a week, we’d love for you to consider applying to be one of our pastoral associates. The pastoral associate commitment is a 13 month commitment from June-June in which PAs will help staff with various ministerial tasks and take on formal leadership roles within the church. Please use this link to apply.

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Graduate Luncheon - April 28th

If you are graduating anytime in 2019, we would love for you to stay for lunch after church on the 28th. This will be a special time to reflect on your time at UBC with the staff, and for us to say a blessing over you. You can sign-up in the foyer the next two Sundays, or email

Parishioner of the Week

JD Newman, Kathleen Post, Naomi Stevens, Susanna Sage, Jess Engblom, Kelly Homeyer, Andrew Sabonis-Chaffe, Lidia Harris, Brianna McDermott, Ellie Thomas, Emily Clark & Erin Hudgens for coming Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning to help with kids service!


  • Mr. Rogers Sunday and Senior Lunch 4-28

  • Backside 5-3

  • Study Hall 5-6 & 7

Work is Worship

Greeters: Richardson

Coffee Makers: Oliver & Michael

Mug Cleaners: Sepanskis

Money Counter:  Hannah

Leadership Team

If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members. 

Chair- Adam Winn:

Byron Griffin:

Kerri Fisher:

Bridget Heins:

Jeremy Nance:

Joanna Sowards:

Kathy Krey:

Student Position, Samuel Moore:

Student Position, Anna Carol Peery:

UBC Finance Team

Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.

JD Newman: 

Hannah Kuhl:  

Justin Pond:

Doug McNamee: 

Catherine Ballas:


If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.

Josh Blake:

Ross Van Dyke:

Jared Gould:

Rebekah Powell:

Kristen Richardson: