"Manchester England England, across the Atlantic sea.  I'm a genius genius, and I believe in God, and I believe that God believes in Claude - that's me."

OK, twenty points to anyone who can name the production.

It wasn't in England, but this weekend, I was in Manchester, Connecticut.  Two days of connecting and worshipping and praying with people from the greater Hartford Conference.   I began on Sunday morning with worship at Emanuel Lutheran Church celebrating the Baptism of our Lord.

(I love this photo and the young boy carrying the bowl squinting. Poor kid, I probably got more water on him than anyone.)

In addition to preaching, I also had the opportunity to lead a children's word where we all got wet around the baptismal font.

In the afternoon, I was at Concordia for a Q & A session with about 50 people from around the conference area of Hartford.  After a stop at the Vernon Diner to watch the first half of the Patriots playoff game, I headed over to Trinity Lutheran for "Pizza with the Bish."  Roughly 60 youth and adults from various congregations came by for some lovely Hawaiian Pizza, my favorite.  During the Q & A I was asked if I beleived in Aliens and if I would baptize one.  On Monday, I learned about some of the wonderful minsitries in Manchester, including MACC a food, shelter, clothing and advocacy program.  Then I traveled to see the Creative Learning Center of Connecticut.  

Cindy Hall and Virgil along with other people at Emanuel have been working on a vision of a meaningful residential center for adults with Autism.  It's a grand vision and one of the steps along the way is this green house, where adults with Autism come and work in the greenhouse.  Apparently they find this environment to be soothing and enjoyable.  In the photo below, Chris, the chief gardener, is picking some herbs for me to bring home to Lisa - one of the perks of the job.

In the evening I met more people at The Studio in Hartford, CT.  We had a conversation about the future of the church in America.  It was a fascinating discussion that lead me to think about opportunities we might consider, as we experiment with new forms of being the church.  The evening closed out with Young Adults in Hartford, just enjoying each others company.  Apparently I was allowed to be a part of a Young Adult group because of my title, not my age.  Hmmm, it was just yesterday - I was young and cool and hip.  Actually, I was never hip, but I'm working on it now.  If I try hard, what are the chances?

Oh, one final thing.  I visited First in Ellington with Pr. Jeff Stalley, and found this practice he has engaged with the congregation.  Each week they write down a response to the question, "Where have I seen God at work in the world, in my life."  After they write down a response on a long sheet of paper, it's included in the prayers and then added to a chain that begins at the cross and makes its way along the sanctuary walls, heading out the door and into the world...  I love these road trips where I discover what wonderful ministry we are engaged.