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Posts Tagged ‘Nebraska City’

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Over the past couple of weeks several people have asked me why I was running for School Board in Nebraska City. Here is my answer:

A few weeks ago I did something I’ve never done before; I filed to run for an elected office. I am running for a position on the Nebraska City Public School Board. There are a lot of reasons that I choose to put my name in the hat, but they all boil down to a sentiment that I heard growing up. “You may lose your friends, you may lose your money, you may lose your home…but the one thing that no one can ever take away from you is your education.”

In the past couple of years the school board and the administration of Nebraska City Public Schools have be working hard, not only to provide the best education possible, but also provide as many options for learning as possible. With the announcement of the purchase of the old clinic building on 14th and the old Food Pride building on Central I’m looking forward to see what’s next for our students. My hope is to do my best to clear the way for our students, all our students, to have an opportunity for success. An opportunity to pursue education after they graduate from high school, if they want, at a four year school, a two year school, a trade school, or in the military. I also hope to help set the stage for our students to be successful in the classroom, on the athletic field, the performing stage, and, ultimately, in our community.

We are blessed with many caring teachers, administrators, and staff. I have done my best in the short time that I have lived here to get to know them. Whether that’s been serving as a chaperone for After-School programs for Hayward and the Middle School, working with United Against Violence to host a Kids Day Out, or meeting with teachers, principals, and even folks in the Central Office to find out what they need. I have tried my best to listen and to learn. My hope is to help lift those great, skilled, and caring educators up so they can do their job. My role on the School Board will be to insure they have the infrastructure they need to succeed. It’s all part of the puzzle and we have to work together in order to insure that our students, and our community, have something that no change in the stock or agricultural markets will take away, a solid well-rounded education.

My children are just starting out in the education system here in Nebraska City and we have been very excited with their teachers, the paraprofessionals, and the support staff at Northside. I hope that having young children in the system I will be able to give voice to parents, who make up a key piece in the education of their children. I also want to show my children that it is far more important to get involved than it is to sit on the sidelines and hope for someone to listen to you.

When I was in seminary, I found myself complaining about some of the administrative decisions of the faculty and staff. Someone said, “What are you going to do about it?” I decided right then and there that I would no longer sit on the sidelines and complain or judge the actions of the decision makers. I would become a decision maker. I ran for student government and served as vice-moderator and moderator of the Student Government Assembly. I meet monthly with faculty, twice yearly with trustees, and almost daily with other students. I think we were able to get a lot done and make some positive change.

Now, I know that being the student body president of a small school is very different from serving in an elected position here, but that started my commitment to be a positive influence in my community and I think this is the next step.

I would really appreciate your vote in the upcoming election.

If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts I love to connect on social media. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife’s and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter (@ggbolt16) or show your support by liking my Greg Bolt for Nebraska City School Board facebook page.

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IMG_0198I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Mutual Forbearance”.

This week I wanted to take off my “dad” hat and put on my “pastor” hat. I know that I’m always wearing both but this week I wanted to focus on a foundational principle of the Presbyterian Church. It is a principle called “mutual forbearance”.

The Rev. Dr. Carlos Wilton describes it like this, “It’s a biblical concept — although it’s a little hard to locate in most English translations, because the word “forbearance” is something of an antique.  Scrupulous readers of the Authorized (“King James”) Version will recognize it in Ephesians 4:2. In the face of persistent church conflict, Paul’s prescription for good health in the body of Christ is “forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The New Revised Standard Version renders it “bearing with one another in love.” (http://monmouthstatedclerk.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-marriage-amendment-and-mutual.html)

The Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order helps us to put it in to practice this way, “we think it necessary to make effectual provision that all who are admitted as teachers be sound in the faith, we also believe that there are truths and forms with respect to which [people] of good characters and principles may differ. And in all these we think it the duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other.”

A lot of that language can be confusing. The Rev. Dr. Wilton does an excellent job of speaking plainly about what mutual forbearance looks like in his recent blog (monmouthstatedclerk.blogspot.com) about issues in the PC (USA) and in an upcoming book about Presbyterian Polity.

“The essential feature of the biblical concept of mutual forbearance is the presence of a third party in the relationship: God. Whether the opposing parties are facing off across a kitchen table or a Session conference table, two individuals in conflict have little chance of permanently resolving their differences unless they first acknowledge their mutual reliance on a higher authority. Such is the message of the Ephesians passage as it recommends, “making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Note that unity in the relationship does not come from the parties themselves. It is unity of the Spirit. Further, the peace that reigns over the two opponents is not something that appears automatically, requiring little effort. The scripture speaks of the “bond” of peace: literally, a chain or fetter. A lifelong commitment to living and working with one another, despite our differences, means sacrificing something of the freedom we would otherwise have, were we not accountable to another.

It’s not unlike living through change as a family. Change does not typically happen, in families, in slow and incremental ways. It happens by leaps and bounds, often driven by the passions of the younger generations, to which the older members eventually learn to accommodate. The younger generations, for their part, come to accept the likelihood that they will never fully convince their elders.

What happens, then? Does the family splinter, its unity destroyed?

Sadly, in some cases this is what happens. Most observers, though, would describe that as a failed family. Its members have failed to do the one thing they were expected to do: to stick together through thick and thin.

What keeps any family healthy and strong is mutual forbearance. It must be intentional, and it must happen on both sides. We bear with each other because we love one another in Christ. That’s the bottom line.”

It seems as if in our town, our state, and our country we have forgotten the concept of mutual forbearance. We have forgotten how to be in relationship with one another. That doesn’t mean that we all have to be best friends or even like each other, but it does mean that we owe it to our neighbors to bear with one another in love. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing is.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: The sunshine and the ability to go play a round of golf with my two kids.

Not Favorite: My house has been sick for the last week and a half. Hopefully, we will finally get better as the nice weather approaches.

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c1e69-123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Nebraska City Helpers”.

I go to a lot of meetings. Sometimes I think my main role, as pastor, is to go to meetings.

Lucky for me I like meetings.

I go to meetings of other Presbyterians, I go to meetings of other pastors, I go to meetings of community leaders, I go to meetings of people just trying to respond to issues, I go to board meetings, I go to one on one meetings, group meetings, and conventions. I go to informal meetings, I go to meetings planned months in advance, I go to meetings that happen on the street, I fly, walk, and drive to meetings, I meet with principals, parents, executive directors, parents, and concerned citizens. Like I said, I go to a lot of meetings.

What I’ve found in almost all of those meetings is that people in this town, in this state, across the country, and across the globe, for the most part, want to help make their situation and the situation of those around them better. Whether that’s better schools, churches, roads, towns, neighborhoods, etc. people are trying to make the world a better place, and I think that’s an admirable goal.

Here’s the problem.

A lot of the meetings I go to, especially here in Nebraska City are just like the silos that surround us, except for the grains of ideas held in them never get spread around to do their job or passed on to the next silo, or used in any way.

That’s a weird metaphor, but here’s what I’m trying to say. We do a great job of working to make our town the best it can be, we just don’t do a good job of working together.

Which means, that effectively we aren’t making our town the best it can be.

Here’s what I am hoping for: if you are on a board, a foundation, a panel, a council, or any other kind of organization that seeks to do good in the world or make a positive impact in Nebraska City, Otoe County, or anywhere else I want you to do a little research to see what other organizations are doing the exact same thing or have very similar goals. This shouldn’t take a long time. Talk to the people on your board, my guess is that they are aware of groups doing other things in town, or even are on other boards seeking to help out. Even better send me an email at (nebraskacityhelpers@gmail.com) about your organization and it’s goals and, if I get a good response I will profile your organization on my column and then we can start to not only work to make Nebraska City the best it can be, but also work together to be successful.

I’ve heard it said, “Many hands, make light work.” So let’s lighten the load and spread the wealth and achieve some of those goals we’ve been talking about.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: There are so many people in Nebraska City willing to give their time and energy to help out. The Royals making the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Not Favorite: Mosquitos

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c1e69-123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Time for Kickoff”

Football season is upon us!

Let’s be honest, it’s the real religion of in this country and I am chief among sinners. My particular denomination is the NCAA and my church is at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, WV. I worship at the altar of ESPN’s College Gameday every Saturday morning. I give my kids my phone or iPad and say, “You want to go watch videos in your room?” They happily oblige because by they’ll be in front of a screen more on a Saturday afternoon in the fall than they will during the week.

I’m not proud. This is my confession.

But, man do I love football. I especially love the West Virginia Mountaineers. My wife will tell you that I have an unhealthy emotional attachment to the games, the players, the coaches, and even the state. I’ve cried, laughed, got so angry I wanted to throw something, and celebrated like I won the lottery, that’s all in the first quarter. I know some of you Husker fans are the exact same way.

Starting my 21st month living in Nebraska City, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities to my beloved West Virginia. There are no professional teams in the state so people rally around their team with reckless abandon. The state has good hard working folks and many tightly knit small towns even if some of them have to change in order thrive.

We, here in Nebraska City, are no different. We’re going to have to rethink some of the ways we do things and some of the things we do in order to become the beacon of hope in Southeast Nebraska I know we can be.

One thing we don’t need to change, but might need to enhance, is our commitment to support the young people in our town. One really easy way to do that is show up. Show up to games, concerts, plays, quiz bowl, Destination Imagination, recitals events, fundraisers, open houses, even if you don’t’ have children in the school system or at that particular school. Yes, that means going to Lourdes games if you don’t want to travel to the Nebraska City Public School away game and even going to Pioneers games if your family attends Lourdes.

There are a lot of great things happening in this town and there are a lot of great people here. There are also a lot of kids that need support and if we want them to grow up loving this town and wanting to see it thrive as I have in just 21 months then we’re going to have to put in some effort.

When I was serving as a chaplain in a hospital we had a mantra, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” It was a reminder that just being there was important to the families and patients. So I’m going to challenge you to go to as many games, events, concerts, recitals, academic challenges, science fairs, etc. that you can and cheer your face off. Cheer for your kids, cheer for someone else’s kids, cheer for good effort, cheer for our town, cheer for our future.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to show those kids, the visiting parents, and anyone that visits our wonderful town that we are in this together, for the long haul.

I’ll close with an Africa proverb:

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

May we continue to move forward together.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Pioneer victory over Auburn; watching my beloved Mountaineers put up a good fight against Alabama; the behind-the-back catch in the Huskers game; a great meal with neighbors. (I told you I liked football)

Not Favorite: This was a pretty good week, so I don’t have a not favorite this week.

I love to connect social media. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife’s and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter. (@ggbolt16)

 

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This is the second post in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 29, 2 Chronicles 5:2-14, and Acts 26:19-29. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 16:16-34)

Psalm 29

I’m sitting here in Southeastern Nebraska on the banks of the Missouri river. I’ve seen pictures and heard stories about the flood a couple of years ago and how (to the folks here) it was caused not by the rain but by mismanagement of flow by the Army Corps of Engineers. I don’t know enough to know what happened, but I do wonder how someone who lived through that would read verse 10, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” Would they read that as comforting that even through the flood God is with them? Would they read it that God caused the flood to “teach” some kind of lesson? Did God cause the flood because God was mad or bored? Was God even around?

I do know that those floods caused the church I serve (First Presbyterian Church–Nebraska City) to begin feeding victims of the flood weekly which speaks to the great end of the church, “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.” At least, I know that God was in the aftermath of the flood and I believe God was there all along.

2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Reading about how the Israelites brought the ark into the temple for the first time makes me thing about the great end, “the maintenance  of divine worship” and how that can be a stumbling block for us. The story of the relationship between Israelites and God goes back to Genesis and it began with walking with Adam, then speaking with Abraham and Noah, etc. Then after God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt the ten commandments on tablets were made, then those were put into an ark, now that ark is being put into a temple. We have build temples all over the place to place our arks and sometimes I think in our zeal to maintain divine worship with have, to quote Richard Rohr, anesthetized and weakened the actual transformative power of Christianity”

I wonder if we worried less about our relics and more about the call from Christ, where that would lead us? Not to say that tradition is bad, per se, but when does maintenance inhibit expansion?

Acts 26:19-29

This is an obvious case of “proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.” I thought the end of verse 20 was interesting, “that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance.” (emphasis added) When we repent, or turn, or say we’re sorry, that should change our behavior and often when we change our behavior people notice. Whether that’s your friends and family complaining that you’ve changed or the world beginning to look at you differently. I believe when we truly proclaim the gospel to the world it changes us and the world. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right, plain and simple. If reading scripture and discussing the teaching of Christ doesn’t make you want to stand up and shout then I’m not sure we are reading the same gospel. I know that we will probably shout about different things, I’ll be shouting about systematic racism, I’ll be sharing about universal healthcare, I’ll be shouting about broken capitalist systems. I wonder what others will shout?

 

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Here is the text of the letter that I sent to all the members First Presbyterian Church in Bend, Oregon announcing my new call.

Dear First Presbyterian Church,

It is with mixed emotions that I write this letter to inform you that I have accepted a call to be the next pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Nebraska City, Nebraska. My family and I are very excited and, at the same time, very nervous about what the future holds for us, yet we are responding to the YES that God has put on our hearts to follow this call.

Words cannot express the depth of love and gratitude I have for the community of First Presbyterian, Bend, without your love and generosity I would never have been able to hear this call. It was God who brought me here five years ago and I trust it is God’s call that is leading me to the next chapter of my journey.

Over the last five years, you have seen me grow from a fresh out of seminary youth director to a married father of two, ordained, Pastor of Youth and Their Families. Your willingness to allow me to grow with you has been invaluable to me, personally and professionally, as I seek to be the best pastor I can be. The grace and care that you have shown me when I have made mistakes and the joy and support you have given my family and me in our celebrations has been in a word, Christ-like. The relationships built here will go with me wherever God’s call leads me.

First Presbyterian Church in Nebraska City is a small congregation with a lot of energy. For the last year they have participated in a transformation process involving the entire congregation. Through this process they have studied their past, acknowledged their present, and now are ready to embrace their future. A future that we have been called to share with them. The people at First Presbyterian Church, Nebraska City, and I believe that we have been called together at this moment to share the next step in their ministry.

My last Sunday with you will be December 30, 2012. I will begin my new call in Nebraska City at the end of January.

My family and I are indebted to you and covet any prayers for our future in ministry. Once again, thank you.

Blessings,

Rev. Greg Bolt

 

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