This is a place for me to share and document personal interests such as music, technology, and other writing. Please enjoy; I love to receive comments and hear back from you! And if there is something you'd like me to record or a tech question, please let me know! For more of an overview, see the "Who Am I?" and "Ministry Passions" tabs above.

Hope... because God is alive and well

In mid-January 2012, Moderator Cynthia Bolbach and a group of other ruling and teaching elders posted a video entitled, "Hope for the PC(USA)."  They invited others in the church to share with the church why we believe "this to be the beginning, not the end, of what God has planned for us."  What follows is my answer to that invitation...

I have great hope and conviction that God is alive and well and at work in this world in which we live. That was just confirmed in person as I sat at the corner coffee shop and had a conversation with the manager who has become a friend, who shared some of her own personal burdens, the help she gains from her recent faith, and her desire to follow God's leading in her work and life. That she had no church background or desire to know God did not stop God from pursuing and finding her. Thankfully. Mercifully. Gloriously!

I have great hope that God is alive and well and at work in the part of the Church called the PCUSA. I see it as I share stories with friends across the presbytery and across the country. For instance, I see it in my good friend's church - a "transformation church" that has struggled to cling to life, battled the prospect of change, and embodies new life in Christ. Despite struggle and tears, even accusations and opposition, I have heard and seen the Gospel of Jesus Christ SHINE through her and those remaining to become God's church in their neighborhood. I see our presbytery responding to a vision of becoming less about institutional maintenance (survival?!) and more about asking what God is already doing through the congregations of our presbytery. Despite resistance to change, guarding of territory, and fear of the unknown, I have seen the Spirit stir and move in and among our presbytery.

I am not ignorant or indifferent to the challenges before us. John Vest's recent "Pathos" post was piercingly truthful about the ways we fail and fall short. But my hope is not pinned to institutional "success," human merit, or theological position. Honestly, I have been disappointed by people all across the theological spectrum; I have also been greatly encouraged, challenged, and witnessed to by people all across the theological spectrum. People are people... and they sure aren't God. My hope comes from a conviction that God's ability to move, work, help, and save is not dependent on human success or faithfulness. That doesn't let us off the hook in terms of faithfulness or obedience, but it sure keeps me from becoming hopeless.

Finally, I have great hope because of my own congregation and ministry. And lest that seem obvious or self-promoting, that hope comes precisely because of my own keen awareness of my limitations and failures. One of the ways I describe our congregation is "ordinary people; extraordinary God" - and I mean every bit of that. There is nothing I would deem good or bad, faithful or unfaithful, Jesus-centered or wayward as Hell, in the denomination that I don't also encounter in my own congregation and my own life. And God keeps showing up, stirring us up, calling us back, cleaning us up, and sending us out under the Word, sealed in the Spirit, and following the Son.

Thankfully. Mercifully. Gloriously!

A Box of Crayons, the Mid-Council Report, and the Status Quo

John Vest, a member of the mid-council commission, recently posed the question of whether the General Assembly will embrace some of the change recommended in the mid-council recommendations or whether we will protect the organizational status quo.  I'm with John on that question and am hopeful that we will hear and respond to the good work and vision of the mid-council commission.  Here's how I answered one question about that report in the moderator candidates' booklet.

In the Mid-Council Commission report a great deal of the narrative spoke to the emerging shapes and forms for mid-councils. In your view, what do you find especially promising in the narrative and why?
Pastor to youth director 1:

I want you and the kids to have an incredible lock-in.  I can’t wait to hear about all the amazing, creative, and fun things you do with them.  Just remember not to break anything, to clean up afterwards and make sure that on Sunday morning we can’t tell that you were here.

Pastor to youth director 2:

I hope you and the kids have an incredible lock-in.  I’ll be praying for everything you do and can’t wait to tell the congregation about it.  Don’t worry if things get a little messed up.  I’ll remind them that it’s a sign that we’re doing something right!
There is an interesting parallel between the narratives of the report and our attitudes towards youth and young adults.  In both cases, established leadership wants things to flourish, but we often hover, ready to swoop in if things get out of our control.  There is a necessary tension between risking “failure” and risking “success”; perhaps we need to redefine both and change the conversation altogether.

I find great promise in the mid-council commission report because of a willingness to allow presbyteries to adapt from organizations that “regulate” everything within their bounds to Christ-connected partners that encourage, equip, and connect local congregations in their mission and ministry.  This is the same move we have been trying to make in my presbytery (Charlotte) for some time, as well as in the church I serve (where we seek to equip and partner with each member for ministry and mission).  For us, a key question has become,

“What is God doing in and around us
and how can we be a part of that?

Similarly, I am drawn to the creative language in the MCC report about a large canvas and a palette of colors for experimentation; but I’ve had the experience of giving children a sheet of paper and four crayons.  It invites creativity but can also limit it.  What if the Spirit moves beyond the canvas or paints with a color we have not defined?  Will we shut it down or call it “out of order?”  What if a new ministry or worshiping community forms that is “beyond the frame” we have drawn?  If it ends up not bearing the name PC(USA), what is that to us if it honors and serves Christ in the world?  Let’s bless it and give thanks that God has moved among us and out from us!

Finally, the report names a crisis of trust as “the single greatest threat to the vitality and future existence of the church.”  Indeed, I have found in my presbytery that challenges of money and ministry are only symptoms of underlying issues of trust and relationship.  I welcome the encouragement to create, envision and experiment; but we must also take seriously the invitation to build relationships and develop “theological friendships.”  The significant value of these relationships is, perhaps, a hidden jewel in this report that we dare not miss.

For the mid-council report in various forms and sections, see the page here.

Local Newspaper Article on Hope Lee

"Pastor Leads on National Stage"
Sarasota Herald-Tribune article on vice-mod candidate, Hope Lee
Steve Heisler - July 18, 2012

From Pennsylvania to Florida, the Rev. Hope Lee has made congregational redevelopment her specialty, and the ability to help churches thrive has her moving to a national role.

The Kirkwood Presbyterian pastor was selected to stand as vice moderator candidate with the Rev. Robert Austell as moderator at the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) later this month in Pittsburgh. Austell, the minister at Good Shepherd Presbyterian in Charlotte, N.C., said he understands the crisis facing many faiths today.   [read more...]

Speaking with Bruce Reyes-Chow

Former Moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow recently sent four questions (and a 5th wildcard question of our choosing) to the moderator candidates for response. My responses are included below and links to the other candidates' responses follow.

Knowing that being Moderator/Vice-Moderator will require a great deal of time and energy from you and your community, why give in this way to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

    I believe God has called me to stand. I am blessed with a supportive family and congregation that see themselves as part of that calling. When I shared with the church elders, deacons, and staff, their first responses were about how they could fill in and carry on. For years, we have sought to be faithful with a little and have seen God open doors and call us (all) further out in service and witness. I am humbled by the confirmation of these dear ones around me as well as by the enthusiastic support of my presbytery.

    Part of the ‘why’ also has to do with timing, gifting, and passion. I believe the PCUSA faces challenges and opportunities unique to this time and culture and that God has gifted, called, and impassioned me for those challenges and opportunities. For a number of years I have been working in my congregation and presbytery to draw our attention to the world God loves, and have found that to be a unifying and compelling vision. I understand that vision not to be the latest fad or plan, but the very heart of evangelism, witness, mission, and justice. I joyfully and passionately find myself running after Christ and, with others, being the Church in the world.

    I believe we must lift our eyes and hearts beyond our walls and remember our first love and call to be winsome witnesses to the grace and mercy of God in and among the world God loves, and endeavor to encourage, inspire, equip, and accompany all I minister among in that journey.

If someone were to ask you, “Why should I bother going to church?” how would you respond?

    I believe that all kinds of people (not just church-types or “Christians”) are interested in connecting with God. I think it’s something built into us, to long for something and someone much bigger and more lasting than ourselves. I’d like to invite you to come try church with me because I believe that you will find connection with God. I’m not saying that because we have the corner on truth, because we’re Presbyterians or because we teach some special brand of Christianity. I say that because I believe God wants to connect with you. The whole God-thing isn’t about being good, creating a good philosophy or religion, or attending a church obsessively. If the God described in the Bible is true, then God is not waiting around for us or hiding from us, but IS seeking us out in love.

    At the church I am a part of we believe the Bible is God’s love-letter to the world and we get together to seek God around that message. And you know what? God shows up. It’s not mystical or spooky; there are no sparks or screaming people; there is no giant voice from the sky. But if you asked just about anyone who comes to our church, God is here. It’s a very special place full of very special people. We aren’t perfect – far from it. But we are all seeking the same thing – connection with a God whose story is one of loving and coming to us… all the way down to where we are. Look around some more… think about it… take a chance… come see us.

    Check out some more thoughts here:

Choose one item of business or issue that will be coming up at General Assembly and share your perspective.

    For sure there will be “hotter” issues coming before the General Assembly this summer, but I believe the most significant one will be the future unity and witness of the PCUSA.

    Our institution is aging and showing it. We must be willing to flex, adapt, and learn. I commend the mid-council commission report as a START in this direction. I also commend the conversations among the NEXT conference and the Fellowship as twin stirrings about where the church could head. In each case, there is risk of being side-tracked.

    Our community is fractured. We must graciously… graciously… seek healing or release-with-blessing. I’ve helped author dismissal policies that seek either outcome, with our public witness to Christ as paramount. I urge the church to choose this route and not a more destructive path. We cannot afford to cling, fight, or curse one another in this fractured state.

    Our debate is polarized. I have modeled and will hold out theological friendships as an example of a way forward in Christ. Interestingly, my conversations in those contexts range deeper and wider than any pronouncements ever made at a microphone. In our efforts to boldly profess our Christian convictions, we too often exhibit far from Christ-like behavior. We can do better; we must do better.

    The Church is not our own; may we be reminded of Whose we are and there find grace and vision for the future.

What are a few things that most people would never guess about you: interests, adventures or...?

    I am a life-long musician (since age 4), but a kind of strange one. I’m not a performer. I CAN perform, but it’s not what fuels me. I like creating and I like helping others create. My dad taught me the “Boogie-Woogie” and how to improvise, and fourteen years of classical lessons and improvising in rock and jazz bands later, I went to Nashville as a session musician, learning to generate any style of music on demand. Along the way I picked up guitar, drums, bass, and audio engineering, and… a call to ministry. It’s made for an interesting mix and much soul and church-searching to find the right mix of ministry. But as much fun as music and recording and Nashville were, seminary and pastoral ministry were even better.

    So, I’ve found two primary fits for music and ministry. One is in worship music. One of the biggest challenges in worship music (whether choral, praise team, instrumental, or in-between) is the struggle to turn the focus away from self. As one who is not a performer, writing and leading worship music has been a perfect fit because my very task is to direct people’s attention and worship Godward. Secondly, I’ve been able to use my gifts and resources to help younger (and sometimes older) amateur musicians record or flesh out musical ideas in a way that hopefully encourages and blesses them and those to whom they minister. Our congregation has turned into quite a creative hub as musical, then visual and dramatic arts have flourished.

WILD CARD: Answer any question you want, one that someone has yet to ask or choose from some that have been asked here:

    Claire Worthington asked specifically how I voted on NC Amendment 1. What is more pertinent to the PCUSA General Assembly is WHY I voted as I did.

    NC Amendment 1 was not just about banning same-sex marriage, but defined marriage in the civil sphere and declared “marriage between one man and one woman the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” Public debate was heated, simplistic, and often unhelpful.

    I’ve appealed for better communication for the sake of community here:

    This summer the PCUSA will be asked about a Christian definition of marriage. I do believe Christian marriage to be correctly defined as one man and one woman, covenanting before God and the church.

    However, with NC Amendment 1 voters were asked how the STATE should view marriage and domestic union. I do not believe that the civil definition of all “domestic legal unions” must or should be restricted to that of one religious perspective. Further, I do think Christians have an obligation to bear witness to God through generosity and kindness in the public sphere rather than through imposition of Christian belief. To curtail legal and civil benefits to my neighbors for the sake of asserting a Christian definition of marriage was something I was not willing to do. Moreover, I am willing to explore supporting legal and civil benefits for my neighbors, recognizing that there is a difference between the spheres of church and state. I voted against the NC amendment.

Other Candidates respond:
Randy Branson * Sue Krummel * Neal Presa

Speaking With the Outlook

The Presbyterian Outlook recently sent four questions to the moderator candidates for response.  My responses are included below and links to the other candidates' responses follow.

Outlook: In your opinion, what is the most significant matter coming before this General Assembly, and how do you propose that the assembly respond to it?

Marriage equality? Divestment? Restructuring Mid Councils? Amending our confessions? These are all significant matters, but I believe the most significant matter before us is not in an overture or special report as such.  The most significant matter coming to the Assembly is the same one that lives in our presbyteries and congregations; it is the division among us. And the division in our fellowship has an even more significant consequence — the compromise of our mission and witness for Christ.
In the questions that follow, I will propose how the Assembly might respond to what I believe is a crisis, but I believe the first step is naming and facing the crisis and each of us taking responsibility for our part in it. Truth and justice are vital, but without a living, breathing Christian unity, I believe we have become like the clanging gong of 1 Corinthians 13.

Outlook: What do you believe are the causes of conflict in the PC(USA), and what do you hope this General Assembly will do to help bring resolution?

The problem is not that we disagree but HOW we disagree. Our language is extreme: “apostate … hateful … schismatic … hell-bound … liar … heretic ….” We compound language with behavior, withdrawing into camps and isolating ourselves from one another. I believe we have misidentified our “enemy.” Our enemy isn’t the person who votes differently; that differently voting person professing faith in Jesus Christ is family. Our true enemy, so says Scripture, is not flesh and blood at all. What do I hope this assembly will do? Like the talk you will hear of “missional church,” I’m not sure what we will do is the right question, but rather who we will be. Who will we be to each other? Who will we be before the Lord Jesus Christ? Who will we be as one part of the authentic church? Who will we be as witnesses before the watching world?

Outlook: In your opinion, what is the most urgent need in the PC(USA) over the next five years?

Our lack of unity is the underlying issue for the PC(USA). It bears a terrible fruit and that is a poor witness to the watching world. I believe our primary mission is to worship and serve God in the world. In order to do that with grace, truth, justice and love, we must cultivate the “fellowship of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.” God’s story, from beginning to end, is a testimony of God pursuing a broken world in love. We are called to be part of that, from the Good News we share to the acts of mercy, kindness and justice that we do. A winsome, evangelistic, mercy-filled WITNESS to God’s redeeming love is our most urgent mission. We need to get re-focused on being the church in the world for God’s sake and glory (It is our chief end!).

Outlook: What are your goals for your moderatorial years, and what strengths do you bring to the task?

As moderator of the PC(USA) I will model the kind of unity that doesn’t sweep debate or dialogue under the rug, but invites it in the context of mutual respect, friendship, and shared mission.
I cherish friendships and ministry partnerships with folks who don’t vote (or look or think) like I do. I invited one such colleague, the Rev. Kate Murphy, to be the lead-off presenter opposite me for our presbytery’s debate over Amendment 10a. We not only spoke respectfully and passionately to the issue, but demonstrated to our fellow presbyters what an honest conversation between friends in Christ can look like. That same year the presbytery asked us to serve as moderator and vice-moderator of (the) presbytery’s council. My significant hope is that we can grow in maturity and unity to more faithfully serve and honor Jesus Christ in the world.

Other Candidates respond:
Randy Branson * Sue Krummel * Neal Presa

Experience (archived page)

Pastoral Ministry
  • Pastor/Head of Staff, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC, 2002-ongoing
  • Associate Pastor for Youth and Missions, First Presbyterian Church, Lenoir, NC, 1996-2002
Equipping Ministries to the Wider Church 
  • Montreat Wee Kirk Conference - worship leader, musician, seminar leader, 2003-2011
  • - creator, webmaster, 2010-ongoing
Governing Body Work - Presbytery of Charlotte
  • Moderator of Council, 2012
  • Vice-Moderator of Council, 2011
  • Moderator of Presbytery, 2009
  • Member and Writer, Ad Hoc Committee on Reconciliation/Dismissal Policy, 2008-2009
  • Commissioner to the 218th General Assembly, 2008
  • Chair, Ecclesiastical Affairs/Bills and Overtures, 2003-2008
  • Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), D.Min. (theology, worship), 2001-2008
  • Princeton Theological Seminary, M.Div., 1994-1996
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, M.Div. coursework, 1992-1994
  • Davidson College, A.B., 1990

    Vice-Moderator Candidate

    It is my joy to announce the Rev. Dr. Hope Italiano Lee as vice-moderator candidate to stand with me at the 220th General Assembly of the PC(USA) this summer in Pittsburgh.  When I began looking for a vice-moderator candidate, I looked for someone with a proven record of biblical teaching, leadership, vision, and compassion.  Searching widely for these qualities, I was pleased to meet Hope last fall and find a gifted woman with a love for Jesus Christ, her family, her congregation, and her wider community.  She is a gifted preacher and leader, has a heart for Christian witness and compassion in her congregation and community, and a particular passion for ministry with immigrant families and individuals.  I invite you to discover more about her by clicking the Vice-Mod tab.  We look forward to standing and serving the Church together, however God may call.

    Vice-Mod (archived page)

    Hope Italiano Lee
    All About Hope
    “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it holds the power of salvation for all who believe!” ~Romans 1:16

    I am a fourth generation Presbyterian, married to a fifth generation Presbyterian immigrant, and the mom to two sixth generation Presbyterians! I grew up in a small rural congregation in the Presbytery of Baltimore, went to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, Princeton and Columbia seminaries, and hold a D.Min in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Currently, I am the lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Bradenton, FL (the retirement capital of the country)and a member of Peace River Presbytery. Previously I served congregations on Amelia Island, FL and in King of Prussia, PA. Before ordination, I worked in youth ministry and camp and conference ministry in several different settings.

    The Lee Family
    My husband, Sung Ho, is also an ordained PC(USA) pastor and serves as a chaplain here in Bradenton and also is on staff at Kirkwood. Our children are 7 and 3 and although we don’t have any pets, we do have a croatan plant in our front yard that we have successfully managed to keep alive for almost a year now! Our family is very big on the outdoors and loves camping, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and hiking. This summer we celebrate our 15th straight summer of leading youth mission trips and conferences!

    Just a Few Ministry Passions

    On Preaching...  
    "There really has never been a better time to be the church!  In a world where just about everything is fleeting and temporary, it is exciting to me to be able to share and give people the Word of Life which is eternal."
    On Redevelopment...
    "In recent years, God has put a clear vision on my heart for the work of redevelopment. What an opportunity to bring a fresh breath of the Spirit to congregations who have felt forgotten and abandoned. What a joy to invest in the rich history of the church, bear a deep love for the people who have spent their lives in a congregation and who have a story to share, and extend grace, patience, and creativity to navigate such congregations into a renewed sense of purpose, value, and call!"
    On Migrant Farmworker Ministry
    "Although I am a child of the church, it was not until my early college years when God led me to Mision Beth-El, a farmworker ministry in Wimauma, FL, that I truly encountered and developed a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ. My time spent on the staff of the mission transformed my understanding of grace, mercy, and compassion and brought into significant clarity what a hands-on approach to active engagement in social justice looks like as a person of faith.  I am thrilled to have accepted a call in Peace River Presbytery, where I now serve on the Board of Directors for Mision Beth-El."
    Kirkwood Summer Soccer Camp at Mision Beth-El

    Pastor Hope and some of the Kirkwood
    kids at the all-church mission at Habitat
    On Being the Church...
    "There are wonderful moments that every congregation, regardless of size or location, can discover when they look at their neighborhood, their immediate community, and the world right outside their window and realize that they weren’t meant to be just a building, but the church…..and the church has nothing to do with even having a building. God has given us everything we need to be successful in ministry."
    One of several trips with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to the Gulf Coast

    Articles (archived page)

    Archive of Moderator-Related Articles, Interviews, and Responses Posted Online
    (topics covered listed beneath each link; note: in some cases, the other candidates answered different questions)

    06-29-12 "The Rev. Robert Austell of Charlotte Hopes for the Presbyterian's Top Job" - The Charlotte Observer; good overview of candidate's local work and perspective on the denomination

    06-27-12  "Candidates for Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the PC(USA)" - The GA Junkie (Steve Salyards); analysis and commentary on the moderator candidate landscape and the candidate's booklet; includes "Wordle's" to highlight important themes and emphases of the candidates.

    06-18-12  "Pastor Leads on National Stage" - Sarasota Herald-Tribune article on vice-mod candidate, Hope Lee

    06-03-12  Bruce Reyes-Chow Patheos Interview - 5 questions   (RB*SK*NP)
    • sense of call
    • why bother going to church?
    • one key issue coming to General Assembly
    • personal interests
    • marriage and civil union
    05-26-12  Presbyterian Outlook Interview - 4 questions   (RB*SK*NP)
    • most significant matter
    • causes of conflict
    • most urgent need
    • moderatorial goals
    04-16-12  Moderator Candidates' Booklet (pdf) - bio + five questions
    • presbytery endorsement, biographical, sense of call, ministry passions, experience
    • possibilities and challenges in the 21st century church
    • mid-council commission report
    • 1001 new worshiping communities and racial/ethnic/multicultural goals (and this)
    • unity within and beyond the PCUSA
    • new directions for the development of faithful leadership for the mission of Christ

    Welcome (archived page)

    On October 11, 2011, the Presbytery of Charlotte endorsed me unanimously to stand for Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Please look around my site to discover why I feel called to stand for that role and what passions God has stirred in me for service to the Church. I invite you to connect with me through comments, e-mail, or social media. I also invite you to join with me in praying for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as those God is preparing to serve as moderator and vice-moderator. Please visit regularly or subscribe via RSS or e-mail to receive further content as the site is updated. ~Robert

    Sense of Call (archived page)

    Why are you standing for Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)? 
    *Click the following link for "What is the Role of the Moderator?"

    I have a heartfelt faith in Jesus Christ, a love of God's Word and people, and a commitment to live out the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ with truth and grace to those inside and outside the Church.

    My family (plus Buddy the dog!)
    My most basic calling is to my family, to love them unconditionally, if imperfectly, and with them to seek truth in the bounty of God's grace. We are bound together in covenant; we disappoint; we forgive and love; and we try to remind each other of the goodness of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our daily (and fairly ordinary) lives together.

    That's all a bit more flowery and theological than I normally talk about my family - but as I was pondering how to answer the question of "why stand for moderator?" I realized that truth be told, my heart is with my family and my local church.  My second and significant core calling is as a pastor.  I framed my description of my calling to my family as I did because my calling as pastor flows out of that.  In my congregation, we are also bound together in covenant; we disappoint; we forgive and love; and we try to remind each other of the goodness of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our daily (and fairly ordinary) lives together.

    That group of "ordinary people" has realized we serve an "extraordinary God," who has sent and led us out into and among our neighbors and world.  That has been and continues to be our adventure together.

    The Lord has seen fit to use this calling and these personal and pastoral gifts in the life of our presbytery, and I have seen how covenantal and grace-filled seeking of truth as a community has blessed and bound together our presbytery.

    In a day when our denomination seems to struggle with all of those qualities - covenant, grace, truth, and community - and with the prayerful support of my family, local congregation, and presbytery, I have been convicted to stand and remind the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) of who and whose we are, in Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
    The full-wall collage in our welcome area and entryway at Good Shepherd.

    iPad apps

    So, I'm brand new to the world of the iPad.  I had been looking at replacing my trusty HP laptop computer before this summer and was wondering if this was the time to switch to a tablet.  I knew I'd like the portability and light weight of a tablet.  My concern was that I wouldn't be able to do all the things I can do on my laptop with the iPad, with two main concerns:
    1. Could I open, edit, and fully interact with all the Microsoft Word and Excel (and to a lesser degree, Powerpoint) files that I use on a daily basis?
    2. Could I continue to use Dropbox to sync these files between multiple computers (work, hope, laptop/tablet) in the way that has become so very useful to me.
    So it turned out I had a birthday a few weeks ago, and grandparents and immediate family conspired to gift me with a new iPad.  (And middle daughter is gunning for the old laptop.)  So suddenly the game is on to see if this thing can replace a full-fledged laptop. I was told that Apple has an office suite called iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) and that it covered the Word, Excel, PowerPoint bases and then some in that "Apple way."  Note that I was an original Mac-user; they just lost me in the late 90s when Mac prices soared and no one in my new work community used them at all.  So, I didn't re-enter until 2009 with the Touch (aka "mini-iPad"). What Do I Think of Pages? meh.  I am a Word power-user.  If all you want to do is type some text and insert a picture and watch the sweet way Pages flows text around it, ok.  But, I quickly found that there was much I was used to doing that it wouldn't do.  (Not to mention, very few of the same fonts.)  I can see using it to knock out a quick letter, but I'm going to want something that matches my formatting on the PC.  And most annoying, there seem to be no keyboard shortcuts.  I'm used to applying bold, italic, and underlining at speed while I type, and in Pages I have to stop and go to the formatting menu.  (Maybe I'm missing something, but I've Googled and Googled and can't find how to use shortcuts.) The Big One: Can't sync my docs! The biggest disappointment was not being able to easily sync my documents in Dropbox.  First-world problem to be sure, but I have become used to (for example) typing half a paragraph of something at work, hitting save, and opening it to that same place when I get home... synced between computers by Dropbox.  It's VERY convenient.  I read up on iCloud, but it doesn't work between Mac and PC, nor does it push the doc down to the local level.  The best I could do without some WebDAV trickery was to e-mail a Pages doc to myself, then open the attachment " Dropbox" in order to save it there where my PC would sync with it. Lest I come across as whining, let me say that I love the iPad so much that I was fully prepared to deal with it and hope that some 'fix' would eventually come out. Solution: QuickOffice Then, continuing to Google and read forums, I decided to try QuickOffice Pro HD, an app that claimed to more closely mimic Word, Excel, and PowerPoint... AND it claimed to integrate with Dropbox (and a number of other cloud storage sites). It's pricey for an app - $19.95.  But, boy is it worth it!  It not only integrates, it does exactly what I wanted.  You can actually connect to multiple cloud sites at once (I use Dropbox, GoogleDocs, Box; and it has 4-5 others)... and they all appear like folders on a hard drive.  You can open directly from there; edit in QuickOffice; and SAVE back over or to the clouds.  And QuickOffice uses common system fonts, including Cambria and Calibri (which is what we've been using as our default at work). QuickOffice is compatible with Word and Excel through the 2010 versions and PowerPoint through the 2003 version.  It also offers 5-6 share sites in addition to the cloud storage sites.  It ALSO saves to PDF!  I highly recommend it for iPad users, especially if you are trying to work with PCs and the clouds.

    Role of Moderator

    What is this role of "moderator" and what does a moderator do in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)?

    The official description:

    When the Moderator presides at the assembly, it is to be "a sign of the bond of unity, community, and mission in the life of the church."  Between assemblies, the Moderator serves as an "ambassador of the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, telling the story of the church's life and upholding the people of God through prayer.  The Moderator of the General Assembly is an "ecclesiastical officer" of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), possessing "the authority necessary for preserving order and for conducting efficiently the business of the governing body."

    Specifically, the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly has at least three significant responsibilities:
    1. Moderate and provide leadership and order for the General Assembly meeting of the Church, which is held every two years
    2. Travel as ambassador for Christ and the Church, teaching, speaking, praying, and encouraging this part of the body of Christ that is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and sometimes representing that body to other parts of the broader Church
    3. Appoint members of special committees and task forces created by the electing General Assembly (220th), and appoint chairs to General Assembly committees at the subsequent assembly (221st)

    If you really, really want to know a lot more about the role, you can view the Moderatorial Candidates' Handbook from the last General Assembly (2010).  It's 66 pages in length and includes a description of the process for election, some official questions posed to the candidates in 2010, and the bio packets from each of the moderator and vice-moderator candidates.