Monday, September 26, 2011

This blog has changed its address! Please bookmark the new location

Derek Maul
Please note, The Preacher's Husband blog is now located at

It's tough to post in several places! So please bookmark and visit me there often!

Peace and blessings - DEREK "The Preacher's Husband" Maul

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Too far Under the Radar? This blog needs your vote or it simply goes away...

"The Preacher" with her very happy dog, Scout Labradoodle
It's crisis time for this blog, and I need to hear from any interested readers.

Let me be clear; it's not crisis time for me, it's crisis time for this blog! I write another blog (almost daily) that generates a tremendous level of interest. And, to be honest, my other blog covers a lot of ground this page would address if it was my only space.

So I have to ask the question. If this blog went away, then would the few readers who visit here transfer their interest to"The Life-Charged Life", or will I lose you altogether?

You see, a huge part of what it means to live "The Life-Charged Life" involves my role as a clergy-hubby. So I feel that I'm short-changing this blog when I post on the other... and I feel like my other readers are missing out when I post good stuff over here.

So I'll leave it at that. This is a one-month fact-finding fishing expedition. Do you want this blog or not? Let me know, either way.
Like I said, I'll be posting 6-days a week regardless, over at The Life-Charged Life.

Peace - DEREK "The Preacher's Husband" Maul

Saturday, September 17, 2011

History and more Church history...

Newspaper clipping from Feb 1997 - four months into our Brandon experience
Isaiah 6:6-8 - One of the flaming creatures flew over to me with a burning coal that it had taken from the altar with a pair of metal tongs. It touched my lips with the hot coal and said, "This has touched your lips. Your sins are forgiven, and you are no longer guilty."
After this, I heard the LORD ask, "Is there anyone I can send? Will someone go for us?"
"I'll go," I answered. "Send me!"

Blast from the Past: Just a short post this morning. I'm up to my eyeballs and beyond in a project that's turned out to be huge. A while back I agreed, in a moment of insanity, to write "A History of the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, Florida" ( Well, now it's time to bring all the research and conversations and factoids together.

Rebekah has been the pastor of this amazing church going on 15 years (see newspaper clipping). Enough has happened in the past ten alone to write a 500-page account.
First, "Note to self": The next time I agree to write a church history, make sure I'm writing about a church where nothing much happens! Good grief, fpcBrandon has a lot going on!
The challenge is how to present the 50-year story of a faith community. The active membership roles have varied from as low as 100 to as high as 600 (on paper). Annual average attendance statistics have been recorded at less than 100 to over 400.

But, over the years and with the fact that people move to other towns... and new people join... and babies are born... and kids grow up.... and people die... it's possible that several thousand assorted Presbyterians have been - at one time or another - a part of this story. In a transitory town like Brandon, we typically have to take in 40 new members every year just to maintain.

So what I have done is to search and interview and listen, and to try to find the following:
  • A single thread of continuity - a strand of DNA if you will - that knits the half-century together
  • The evolving story of the personality of the church, and what particular events contributed to that evolution.
  • Who, now that we're all grown up, have we become? Because the most important element of this historical document is not so much the past as what that past has led to in terms of faithful witness to God's love and care in this community

So today, and over the next two weeks, my primary writing task will be to actually write this history of fpcBrandon. I'll likely share some vignettes along the way. It may be my most interesting book yet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fun with the Church Pictorial Directory

I love taking pictures of people having their picture taken!
- Photos taken, by me, during Rebekah's official "staff-photo" shoot yesterday.

Ah, it's "Picture Directory" time again. People have been in and out of the church all day every day this week, sticking their heads in the preacher's office, chatting up and down the halls, pretty-much grinding day-to-day operations to a halt. But it's all good, because when else can Rebekah fit in dozens of quality pastoral visits per day for an entire week?

So 3:00 was our turn in front of the camera. A few people asked us why Andrew and Naomi weren't going to be in the picture with us! Seriously? They haven't lived here in years! Then a few others said they don't like doing these directories because their mug-shots always look so different from the time before....

"The Preacher" circa 1997
Personally, I think we all look just fine. This will be the third go-round at this church and the first since the kids left home. But I'm OK with the passage of time. We are who we are, and there are plenty of younger families in the church now who have joined since the last directory was produced.
So I stole a few "behind the scenes" photographs while Rebekah was having her staff head-shot taken. Then I pulled out some pics from when we first moved here (see left). In my humble opinion, The Preacher continues to look better every year.

My favorite preacher!
And, if aging a decade and a halfat First Presbyterian of Brandon adds up to:
  • Increasing in beauty...
  • 15 years of additional wisdom...
  • Finely tuned preaching skills...
  • Developing a cutting-edge staff...
  • Plus all this experience as senior pastor at a vibrant faith community...
...Then I'd have to say, "Bring on the next decade, because the best is yet to come!"

I'm looking forward to it - and to the next church picture directory - DEREK

Friday, September 2, 2011

Architecture As Witness

I believe doors are a great symbol for what church is all about as a entry point for "Kingdom Life"
A flurry of activity over the past few weeks led to a key moment in the construction of our new facilities at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon. The general contractor threw his "Topping Out" party and we're officially down to the fine details.
The fine details, of course, will take the best part of a month to complete, but it's all downhill from here.
Officially, "topping out" is supposed to celebrate a building that is dried in and secure from the elements. In reality, this milestone means that we also have electricity, air-conditioning, windows, doors and that the plumbing is pretty much finished up too.
Flooring is going down, there's paint on the walls, appliances are moving in to the kitchen. They're working on the landscaping as well, along with the new entrance and sidewalks and such. Exciting stuff all around!

Rebekah picking up lunch from the new kitchen
"Topping Out" is a contractor party. It's thrown by the construction folk for all the people who have been working at the site. Employees, sub-contractors, inspectors etc. If they want to - and this isn't always the case - they invite the people who are paying for the work, too. Our contractor graciously invited a handful of folk from the church that included Rebekah and me, so I thought I'd share a few pictures in this blog.
A whole bunch of doors - above - were set up in the hall for finish work. I thought they made great ecclesiastical art. One of my favorite scriptures is the John 1o passage where Jesus talks about being the gate, the entry point for the Kingdom of God. I like the image of our church serving that role for so many people who are exploring their spirituality and what it means to live in relationship to God.

Builder Jim
Our builder used the opportunity to share his testimony with the assembled workers. What he actually did was provide an excellent barbecue lunch and preach a ten-point sermon while everyone was eating. It's definitely one approach to telling the Gospel story.
But what really gave me pause, as I walked around the facility, was the fact that this building is a profound statement of faith. The quality of the work, the way we are committed to making the facilities accessible to so many community groups, the training in discipleship that will take place, the evidence that First Presbyterian of Brandon is active in this community and working to raise the standard of life in Brandon.
It all speaks to the transformational love of God that has so taken hold of us all here.

Coffee/refreshment bar area in the middle
One element I'm very pleased with is the "Coffee Bar" area, right in the middle of all the downstairs classrooms. The design of the structure is built around our recognition of the value of community-building as a key building block in discipleship. The hallways, the stairwell landings, the entry points... these are all larger than minimum code requirements and conducive to gathering.
The Campbell Discipleship Center is beautiful, yes, but it's very much a practical design that facilitates community. Some of the key attributes, for me, are:

  • The new nursery

  • Airy

  • Inviting

  • Natural Gathering Points

  • Community-friendly

  • Top-quality

  • Accessible

  • Flow

  • Practical

View from the parking area
I really love the fact that it doesn't have any of the "Don't touch this it's too nice" feel that many church projects often come with. It fits the personality of our congregation and the thrust of our witness.
This last picture is of the new north entrance, being carved out as we speak. One more interface with our community from a church campus that is improving constantly. I pray that the way we live out our discipleship will also continue to move forward; bright, airy, inviting, accessible, community-friendly - telling the truth about JESUS.

Laying out the new FPCBrandon entrance from the north