Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Nease Legacy

Part of this summer was to delve a bit into my Nease family history. The Nease family has been in the CotN from the beginning, with the transfer of my great-great grandfather Rev. William Oscar Nease in the young holiness denomination. Two of his children (Floyd & Orval) went on to pastor and administrate in the struggling but growing world of Nazarene higher education.

Today, the United States has ten college/university/seminary locations in the United States. Someone in the Nease family has served as president of half of them at one point or another. Many others in the family have taught or served them in some other ways (President of alumni associations, professors, and so on). Dozens more have been students.

In the past, more people cared about such things. Today, I care as these are part of my family history and in great part, the formation of who I am. So I visited both with people and in places that somehow spoke to the Neases who walked before me.

When we wrote the narrative proposal for a grant for this sabbatical in May of 2012, I planned this West Coast trip in part to sit and meet with Orval J. Nease II, who I believe is my first cousin, twice removed. Alas, he passed away ten months ago. But I got to eat lunch and spend some time last Friday with his widow, Jean Nease and his step-brother, Robert ("Bob" Nease and wife, Betty. It was wonderful. I greatly value the conversation we had. Betty, Bob, Jean, and I:


This morning, as I reflected with a mentor, I acknowledged that I can be a rather sentimental person. Thinking that someone has walked in the same place that I am visiting is meaningful to me. I can't explain why. And so I visited places that would otherwise bore most anyone else while on the West Coast portion of this trip.

After breakfast on Monday (July 22), Dr. Mary Paul directed me to Point Loma Nazarene University's campus and showed me a few buildings/sites that I was interested in. I had been here twice before when representing ENC as student body president for two years. For some *unknown* reason, the SBPs of each Nazarene institution get together for meetings every year in the same place: PLNU in San Diego. In January. Go figure.



But my previous visits had me with slightly less-interested eyes toward plaques and buildings and such. This visit to PLNU was different.

So on Monday morning, I spent some time walking around Nease Hall, named after my great grandfather's brother (is that my great-great uncle?), Orval J. Nease. He was president of then Pasadena Nazarene College, which later moved to Point Loma and became PLNU. I also spent some time in the Prescott Chapel, a beautiful little prayer chapel that was originally built on the Pasadena campus, but made the trip to the Point Loma campus when they moved. 



Prescott Chapel:



I then spent some time in the library reading some Nease history. I'm kicking myself because I was within two blocks of a few family graves while in Pasadena, including supposedly that of William O. himself, but I did not visit them. 

I was hoping to find a plaque that I had seen while I was out here as a college student in 2002. It listed all the student body presidents of the college since the beginning. My recollection was that my great-grandfather's name was listed on it, but alas...it is no longer where it was and no one in the nearby offices seemed to know anything. I contacted the archivist and she said she might be able to find it (she could not). I came to find out later that he was not the first, but that Fred J. Shields who would later be president at ENC and has a mens dormitory named after him at ENC was the first (that we could find). My great-grandfather, also to go on to oversee ENC, was the second. (Shields would leave ENC to come back to PNC to be a professor, with FWN succeeding him as president at ENC). This is Floyd's associated student president picture:


On Tuesday, I went back to the PLNU library and worked through parts of two history books on the school and looked at every page of some ten yearbooks that would include my great-grandfather (Floyd W. Nease) and his brother (Orval J. Nease I). I also found pictures of their sister, Elizabeth Nease, who taught briefly at PNC, beginning when Orval was president. 



I am grateful for the help of the library archivist, Linda Hasper, in identifying and copying some resources. I found many pictures I had not seen and some pieces of writing I'd not read before. 

I found the parallel struggles and victories of Floyd and Orval who served in very similar situations, partially concurrently, as the very young presidents of struggling young Nazarene colleges, one on the West Coast (Orval - Pasadena Nazarene College, now Point Loma Nazarene University, 1928-1933) and the other on the East Coast (Floyd - Eastern Nazarene College, 1924-1930). One author noted their similar tactics. 

Both brothers built administration buildings as a way to increase excitement amongst the college communities. It was a struggle for both. But both persisted and succeeded in the building projects, though not without considerable adversity and financial struggles, coming in the heat and wake of the Great Depression.

Today, what was Fowler Memorial (?) on ENC's campus still stands, though with decades of renovations and a more commonly-known name: Gardner Hall. The Nease Hall (previously Bresee Memorial Building) is also still standing in Pasadena, CA, but on the old campus of Pasadena Nazarene College, which was sold in 1973. A number of schools and ministries use that campus now, including William Carey International and Providence Christian College. 



What was Nease Hall (PNC-->PLNU) today, now named for someone else. I read about him...but forgot the name.




Fowler Hall (ENC) with Floyd standing on the steps:


And closer to today as Gardner Hall (thanks to Wikipedia):


Nazarene higher education has surely changed, perhaps a world away from where they began, if not geographically, certainly in scope of mission and breadth of education. Reading about these two young men in their late 20s and early 30s leading these institutions is almost laughable in comparison to today's world of higher education. It's laughable not simply because of their age, but also the struggles that they went through and succeeded, which seem certainly impossible if to transpire today. 

Can anyone imagine a whole college faculty going two months without pay and still sticking around?
...or the salary of a president having to come via meals and food from the campus cafeteria for a period because they just didn't have the cash?
...or the debt of a college being partially held in check by the president himself getting together with but one other trustee to write off a note?
...or by mortgaging his own house to pay a portion of the college's debt?

Crazy, foolish, young guys...how on earth did God ever do anything through them?

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Today, my mother - Linda Nease Scott - serves as Associate Dean for ENC. Administration in the blood, you might say.

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I didn't know my great-grandfather, Floyd. There's no one alive who did as he died at the age of 37 while traveling for ENC, working hard raising money for the cash-strapped school. He died in Pittsburgh. My grandfather was five years old.

Pardon me for a moment:
I miss my grandfather, Stephen W. Nease. He died in 2006, but his person slowly began dying many years earlier. I have many great memories of the man: fishing, talking, traveling with him from church-to-church while he was out preaching. I remember the smell of their home (a variety of things, but mostly Old Spice). I would often visit them while he was president at ENC, spending the night in their house...in the town in which I now minister: Hingham, MA. 

Go figure.

Grandpa served four institutions as President: Mount Vernon Nazarene College (now University), Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University), Nazarene Theological Seminary, and finally, his and my alma mater, Eastern Nazarene College.

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The other day I was in one of the library worker's offices at PLNU asking about something or other. As she searched for it on the computer, I noticed a book in her small library: Grace in the Academic Community. I believe it is the only book in which my grandfather is published, having written but one small chapter. I suppose the Nazarene world is small enough, but in that moment, it was neat to find it on her shelf. I asked her if she'd read it. She hesitated, but said she had. 

I mostly just smiled.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wonderful People in San Diego

"gods wants are theaters trying love all."

God's wants are theaters trying to love all.

(I'll come back to explain the above a bit below. The first line was as typed and delivered to me, the second is my interpretation.)

I can't possibly recount all that has happened since my last post in one new one. For now, I will simply post about what has happened since Sunday, July 21. I have aspirations of recounting other past days in the coming weeks, but who knows. Each day has been wonderfully filled, and my lack of posting is simply due to a lack of time rather than a short-coming of happenings. I am currently sitting and typing in the San Diego airport, having come very early for my 10:30 PM overnight trans-continental flight.

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I began Sunday at breakfast with Nathan & Lauren Scott, members of our North Street Community (at Old Town House Breakfast). This is somewhat a breach of pastoral sabbatical rules, but Nathan & Lauren were mostly careful to keep things focused on the moment. It was great to meet up with them, particularly as they know these neighborhoods, having lived here for a few years. 


I had already planned on worshiping with the Mid-City CotN before meeting up with Nathan & Lauren, and it was their church community while out here, so we all went together.



I'd heard of Mid-City a while ago and have appreciated her ministry from afar. Today, seven different language-speaking congregations share the building. I'm unaware of such a thing anywhere else in the CotN. Rev. Dr. John Wright is the pastor of the English-speaking congregation and as he is a kindredly-spirited quasi-postliberal scholar and pastor, I've appreciated him from afar. It was great to finally meet him and worship with the community he pastors. 

I had an unexpected surprise right after worship. Nathan was out here for the Comic-Con gathering, a conference celebrating and highlighting the popular arts. It's also a self-professed HQ of nerds. Tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of light-saber wielding, make up-donning, zombie-marching people had descended on San Diego over the last week or so (driving up the hotel prices!). But tickets are hard to come by, so I was grateful that Nathan got me in to the convention hall even for 45 minutes.


And then I had another surprise. I had read a book given to me by Lauren Scott last year called, "I Am Intelligent" by Peyton Goddard and her mother, Dianne Goddard. It was a highly inspirational book. You can read my review of it here (http://www.amazon.com/review/R2LOX5RAP5AS9J/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B0083RVH4U&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=). Well Lauren is great friends with the family and they all invited me over the Goddard's house. It was an awesome hour or so and I was psyched to meet Peyton and her parents. She communicated with me through a facilitated communication device, which her mother and she used to type out her words. Among many other things, Peyton shared her heart-challenging words at the beginning of this post. Chew on what it says for a bit. Her way with words is quite poetic and powerful and I wholeheartedly recommend her book to any and all, particularly if you are interested in the things of peace, love, justice, and the quest for understanding the world of autism. Theirs is a heart-wrenching and powerful story.

I left their house to get to worship on time with the Peace River Fellowship Church. 



For the first two years that I was in college, I worshiped with the Quincy Bethel Church of the Nazarene, pastored by Mary Paul. I played on the worship team with a number of great people, including Mark Mann and many others (Dan Jewell, Doug Hardy, Tom Oord, my cousin - Amie Gardner, Gwen Pasquarelli, Jimmy Rearick, Nancy Ross, among others). 

I look back on those years as very formative and appreciate a church giving a young college student a place to minister. It was also Bruce & Mary Paul who led a trip I went on to Guyana later in college, also a very formative time for me.

Well Bruce, Mary, Mark and others started this newer church fellowship that gathers on Sunday evenings in the Point Loma United Methodist Church's fellowship hall. I loved my time with them as it reminded me very much of the church I primarily grew up in - Windham Faith Community CotN. The marks of these two churches include lots of children running about and a highly-relaxed but intentional time of corporate prayer and worship. I was very glad for this reminder of my childhood faith formation. 

During the potluck after (of course!), I got to talk to Mark just a bit (who is my wife's second cousin...or some such relation) and met Tim Whetstone, who I don't think I had met before, but felt like I "knew" from his uncle Gerry's updates over the last few months. Gerry and I work closely together on the New England District and I love/miss the man. I also saw Carl & Rhonda Winderl, other past-ENC community members. They gather with Peace River when they're in town. They will also be flying over the Atlantic about the same time my family and I will be on Thursday, they to London, and we to Zurich.

On Monday morning I got to spend time eating breakfast with Bruce & Mary (Newbreak Coffee & Cafe). They have come to know many people throughout their various places of ministry, so I'm thankful that they took the time to sit with but one of them for a while Monday morning. We laughed about such things as Boston sports and the complexities of various regional cultures in the United States. I was also highly impressed by Bruce's ability to name the planes periodically flying over our heads away from the airport. 


Monday during the day I did some family research that I will write about in a separate posting.

On Monday night I had lots of conversation with Gary & James Parker, who I knew from Kansas City days. They moved out here a couple of years ago to San Diego where Gary had lived before. It was great hanging out with them for a few hours. We ate at Ruby's Diner in a mall somewhere (James' choice). We talked about all things Nazarene and beyond.


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Today (Tuesday, July 23) I had breakfast with my seminary president, Dr. Ron Benefiel (Shades on Ocean Beach). We talked about North Street, mutual friends, the shelter ministry, the complexities of compassionate ministry centers and the churches around them, and all sorts of stuff. We certainly reflected on the beauty of the life of his wife, Janet, who passed away several months ago and the monstrosity that is death. We agreed, with the spirit of Janet's leading, that death is a horrible thing in front of which we stand firm and steadfast in the hope of Christ's resurrection and glory.

I forgot to take a picture with him, but he was proudly wearing a KC Royals hat. Below is but one picture of the many I took of the fountain outside Prescott Chapel placed there this year by the graduating class (2013) of PLNU in memory of Janet. They did this not knowing that the original plans for Prescott Chapel included a fountain which has only now come to fruition after 40 years. Ron was one of the students who proposed and executed the original plan for Prescott Chapel. Beautiful.


I then went back to the PLNU library and did more family research.

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These have been inspiring days on this West Coast trip. When I laid my head down each night it was "full", but I have never felt fatigued. It's interestingly refreshing. I got the rental car with 16772 miles on it and as you'll see from the picture below, when I returned it to Enterprise a couple of hours ago, I had remarkably put exactly 2000 miles on the odometer. Not for a single mile of those 2000 miles did I find myself tired or weary of driving. I've loved every inch of it.



This evening I begin the air-trek to Salisbury, MD to retrieve my family (WOOHOO!!!) and in-laws to then fly on Thursday to Switzerland. It'll be a nine hour time-shift for me. We'll see how that goes. The first 24 hours in Portland were not great as I did not adjust well on the trip out here. 




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Sabbatical Drive

I'm currently sitting in Moby's Coffee & Tea in North Hollywood, CA. It's a nice little place that my cousin Wesley recommended. I had dinner and several hours of great conversation with Wes last night, catching up on life and family. It was so great to see him. Dude even let me have his bed. Now if I can only find my other cousin, his brother Nelson, who supposedly lives on the south shore of Boston somewhere. Nelson...you out there?  


So, in short, my drive from Portland to LA was spectacular. It was everything I might have imagined it would be.

I was mostly on US Route 101 from Lincoln City, OR, all the way until Route 152, which takes one from 101 to Interstate 5. Rte. 152 was a pleasant surprise and one of the most beautiful segments of the whole shebang. I also got off 101 to go through the "Avenue of the Giants", part of the redwood phenomenon in Northern California. I have driven well over 1000 miles in two days and not once was I tired or even tired of driving. It has been grace-filled, nourishing, and inspiring. 

Somewhere in Oregon between Tigard and Lincoln City, outside a Dairy Queen:


(By the way, I did run the 5K race in Oregon. Didn't do as well as I might have liked, but the whole night was a pleasant surprise as it was actually put on by a church and we worshiped together. The speaker of the Word that night relied heavily on a Johnny Cash song and is currently ministering in Israel. God spoke to me that night. Very thankful.)

This was my first view of the Pacific in some twelve years, Lincoln City, OR. It was about :


This is the car I rented for this whole trip. I got a free upgrade and have thoroughly enjoyed this Hyundai Sonata. The gas mileage has been incredible as I've only filled it up twice and at the moment still have half a tank. 


My drive on the "Avenue of the Giants" happened around 8:00 at night which was great because no one else was on it. There was plenty of light for me to enjoy what I was seeing. I'd seen the redwoods when I was real young (4.5), but with my growing love for trees over the last seven years, this was special for me.  


I have been kept company by a whole bunch of music, but most memorable has been Johnny Cash, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (thanks to my friend who suggested I give it a try), Ennio Morricone, Vivaldi, and Arcade Fire. I honestly cannot remember how long it's been since I've been able to listen to whole albums at a time. I've also spent a lot of time driving in silence. And a lot with the windows down. 

I'm unable to recount everything I saw, but can't wait to share it with my church community in several weeks. I totally miss my family, but have talked regularly to them. 

I've thought lots of thoughts and prayed lots of prayers over these some 1000 miles so far. One thing for now: The world is a really, really, really big place. Chill out and enjoy it.

The first two pics here are out of order, they are in Oregon:



Likely the most photographed bridge in the world. I didn't even stop.


Seriously: Route 152 was a beautiful surprise. Amazing:


This was closer to LA on I-5:


One last thing for now: I began yesterday in Ukiah, CA. It was a beautiful 58 degrees when I woke up. At one point on I-5 about 2 hours north of LA, my car's thermometer said 101 degrees. I remember from an early age being told how California is such a big state that such things can happen. But it was pretty interesting to go between the two extremes.

I've long said that I am not big on California. San Diego is beautiful and all and a great place to visit, but all-in-all, when I think California, I think "lots of crowded people/places" kind of like Cape Cod on steroids. I've always said, "As for me, I prefer Northern Vermont." Friends in seminary from NorCal told me that I needed to check out Northern California as it would change my mind. 

They were right.

Northern California is amazing. Kinda like Vermont on steroids.

Beautiful country, this is.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Food Trucks & Father Cedric


That there is a waffle, sausage, & maple breakfast sandwich. It was heavenly. Here in Portland a whole lot of people sell food out of food trucks. This little place ("Flavour") is appropriately at the corner of N. Lombard and N. Boston...which is kind of funny because there really isn't much of a "North Boston" in actuality. At least, not of the Boston in Massachusetts.



I've seen a few funny uses of Boston in my travels thus far. There is a chain called "Boston Pizza". We saw franchises twice, once in Canada and another somewhere else that I'm forgetting. I had no clue Boston was especially known for its pizza. Could have fooled me. 

I stayed the last two nights in the home of Nick, Mandy, Dom, Eli, & Mia Mucci, where the weather is cool, the sun is bright, and the food is scrumptiously healthy.


Nick and I went to college together. He gave me a concussion once. For real. And we went through a lot of other awesome things together. The Muccis are an incredible family doing the work of the Lord, particularly through hospitality, mentoring/discipling, and doing whatever they can to live Jesus in their neighborhood and community. Yesterday, we all went to downtown Portland and had lunch at one of the major food truck markets there. My grilled cheese sandwich yesterday was as scrumptious as my waffle sandwich today. I decided to forego the "Original Cheesus", settling for the "Moondog" or some such thing, leaving the eating of Christ for shared moments of communion.

Here is one shot of the food truck scene in downtown Portland:


And here is the place I got my grilled cheese from. Thankfully, it was as good as my childhood...which was good and all:


At the moment I'm sitting in The Living Room, which is the community space of Adsideo Community. It's a great space open to the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. They worship here together on Sundays as well. I hope to join them in the morning. Already I've been challenged by the community here. I have a lot to think about.

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On the drive here from North Portland, I was surfing the radio channels. Boston doesn't have much Christian radio, certainly not on the FM waves. When I lived in Kansas City, I'd often tune to the Christian stations, mostly to argue with what I was hearing. I was after all, in seminary, and *needed* to show someone how impressive I was in what I was learning, even if it was my own head.

In more recent times when I've heard "Christian" preaching on the radio I've tried to tone down my know-it-all seminarian ways and listen a bit more. What I've learned is that God works in a whole variety of ways. Much of what I hear on the radio seems rather junkish...but God works through such things. I guess we call that grace.

The two times I've tuned in during the last 48 hours I've been challenged, even though the speakers were hardly speaking from a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective and used tactics that I cringe at. 

This morning, I happened to turn a message on as the preceding gospel reading was just finishing. Some guy I'd never heard of before began speaking about "play." It turns out that Father Cedric is originally from Massachusetts. Go figure. I have never heard of him before and I certainly didn't jive with all that he said, but God surely spoke through his recorded message to me this morning.

He covered the topics of play and sabbath. He said a lot, but two things particularly spoke to me:

First - "Invite God into your play"
One of the things I think we struggle with in understanding sabbath is just exactly what it entails. Is it rest? Is it active recreation? Is is unproductivity? Is it productivity through unproductivity? More practically, does taking a nap really count? Do I have to be sitting on a beach in Maui or Vermont? Must I be on a mountain as Jesus always seemed to be? Is worship involved? How did "the sabbath" become Sunday? Should we go through the work of getting all dressed up, prim & proper, if it feels like work and not rest? And so on...just what exactly does sabbath entail?

I've often felt guilty at some of the things I've considered to be sabbath-practice, mostly because the world implies a certain kind of necessity of production that can be easily measured, usually in some kind of denotable increase. Well the results  - that is, the production - of the Kingdom aren't exactly always so easily measured. We need to keep this in mind when assessing the worthiness of ANY Kingdom work, including that of sabbath-keeping.

Father Cedric's instruction to "invite God into your play" is one way to help keep sabbath-keeping intentional. Can you invite God to speak to you in what you are doing? And don't dismiss some things quickly. Consider it. Fr. Cedric even used the example of doing a crossword puzzle - ask God to help you discover that elusive answer. While seemingly a bit of a stretch, if you're going to do crossword puzzles at all, why wouldn't you invite God into the process?

This opens up all sorts of possibilities: Into what should we, can we, invite God?

Everything.

And if the answer to any given situation is "No, I cannot invite God into this," then why do it?

I can invite God into the play-time with my children (indeed, God's already there!).
I can invite God into my nap time: "Dear Lord, may this time be a sabbath rest."
I can invite God into the game of basketball I am playing: "God, help me to display myself with Christ-like decorum...and forgiveness!"
I can invite God into anything I'm doing. Or I shouldn't do it at all.

Second - "Mix the amount of your play well."
Fr. Cedric's advice here is to remember that the sabbath is every seventh day (not seven days a week). That sleep is required for seven-eight hours a day (not twenty-four). He quoted a proverb (25:16):
"If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
   or else, having too much, you will vomit it."

I need to hear this. As "busy" as I am, I can easily make excuses to procrastinate via simply labeling something "sabbath-keeping". The key is to invite God in, and if the Spirit is leading me to do else-wise...then listen.

If I've felt guilty about doing something that isn't overtly "productive", then the flip side is passing off unproductive activities as "sabbath-keeping." Again, a question of assessment helps:
Is God able to work in me through this activity?


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In other news, on the opposite side of the continent, Meghan ran her first 5K this morning. She killed it. I run one tomorrow evening out here in Portland before beginning to head south.




Friday, July 12, 2013

And so it begins...


(Wrote this yesterday...)

This is what I look like when I have to wake up at 2:45 AM to catch a flight. I'm sure this is information that you have been hoping for all along coming out of a sabbatical. And it's *surely* the first thing I thought I'd post having been several days since I have done so. 

I'm writing this on a plane right now from Denver to Portland. I am beginning the portion of my sabbatical journey wherein I have left my family behind (safely in Salisbury, MD with Meghan's parents) and I will be traveling alone from Portland to San Diego by car. I've been greatly looking forward to these next twelve days for some time. 

I will be visiting with old friends and mentors all along the way. I'll visit some sites, I suppose, but the main thing is driving sights of the coast and visiting with these people. I have long-loved to drive. In high school I was rather a loner, mostly by choice, but certainly also because social circles didn't seem to have the right place for me, or so I thought. I tended to float from group to group rather than allow people to become good friends. I still often act in this way. It is one thing the Lord is working on with me. Being an introvert and a pastor is not a rare thing (interesting when you think about it, really), but it's not always a favorable thing. Some think it weird that I greatly enjoy preaching to crowds of people at the same time, but struggle sometimes when sitting one-on-one across a table from someone. Like I said, the Lord's working...

So I mostly kept to myself in high school and the beginning of college. One result is that I grew to love the open road. I often drove far distances to see my favorite band or to go to our family cabin & camp in Vermont. With the windows down, music playing, and coffee in my hand, life was great.

When Meghan and I got married, we easily shared this love. We chose to drive quite a bit on our honeymoon, including over four hours the very day we got married. And we have loved to drive together to many places. Vermont, of course, is our all-time favorite. Later in college, we liked to go for shorter drives around the south shore of Boston. We can remember driving to church on Sundays through a little town not far from Quincy. Meghan remarked how "cute" the little coastal downtown was. Little did we know that Hingham would become our home.

As kids have come along, driving for fun has become rare. Our kids have certainly seen their share of the road and we enjoy driving together as a family, but for me, it's not quite like it used to be on the open road. So I'm looking forward to this very much.

I'm not driving every day. The first couple of days I will be here in Portland visiting with friends, reading, and praying. I continue to covet your prayer.