woman raising hands beneath sunlit sky

How Can a Narrative Budget Help Us?

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | August 31, 2022

Rewritten from a website piece for the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church Budgets aren’t sexy, but they’re necessary. If you’re a church leader, you’re probably thinking about it these days, as you start putting together your programs for the year ahead. A line item budget is a financial form that reports income and…

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Worship’s Deep Water

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | August 17, 2022

On a scorching day, it’s amazing how refreshing a simple glass of cold water can be. I have felt this in the summer after a long walk, a hike, or a workout, when the heat seems to suck the life out of my parched mouth. That’s how it tasted this past Saturday when I co-taught…

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By Betsy Schwarzentraub | August 5, 2022

There are times when doing flows into being. Like when a toddler carefully puts the final block on a toy tower he has built. It can happen when an instrumental musician masters an intricate musical passage. Or when a runner completes her most memorable race, her leg muscles burning and lungs nearly exploding, in what…

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Feed the Hungry, Feed Faith

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | July 25, 2022

Granted, Heifer Project has been a long-time “go-to” for children’s ministries and Vacation Bible School. But have you looked at it lately? Now called Heifer International, it’s a whole lot more than putting coins in a World Ark1 or buying a dozen baby chicks for a family overseas. Founded back in 1944, the movement to…

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Practicing God’s Presence

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | July 15, 2022

In the busi-ness of your responsibilities and the busy-ness of life, how do you stay in touch with God? Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” But how do we open up to such stillness within? I recognize this stillness in certain moments, when the illusion of “ordinary” days is drawn…

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Sunday: Why Weekly Worship?

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | June 23, 2022

Why do people worship together as a community? Granted, many people have a personal life of devotion, but what is it about communal worship that can help steer our days through life’s uncertainties, traumas, and storms? Whether shared in person or through live streaming, Sunday worship has given me a framework for time lived during…

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Day-by-Day Mysteries

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | June 15, 2022

Think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. (1 Corinthians 4:1) Paul was in trouble – again. This time it was with some members of the congregations he helped because of that pack of holier-than-thou “super-apostles.” They were going around stirring up doubts about his leadership, saying that…

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Epiphany: The Light of Christ

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | May 24, 2022

The worship season of Epiphany begins on January 6, just after the twelve days of Christmas. In the Western world, these are the darkest days of the year, a natural time to celebrate light. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek verb “to bring to light” or “to cause to appear.” Light is the main…

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Worship in Pandemic Times

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | May 21, 2022

We’ve all been hit with unprecedented challenges in the pandemic isolation these past two years. What has it been like for those who lead our common worship, seeking to hold us together as worshiping communities? What have they learned from their experiences? “We Are Not Alone” is an excellent article that seeks to answer these…

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What is Prayer?

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | April 19, 2022

A major question for many people is not the how of prayer, but the what. In their minds, some people may connect prayer with memorized lines they were taught in childhood, or a thing religious leaders said in church worship. But what exactly is prayer? The answer to this question is not the same for…

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