Adam Frieberg
Minister, Computer Programmer, Geographer, Photographer

captures, reflections, sketches of and about images Even though Adam lacks classical training, he tries to pay attention an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Adam serves the church and the world, experimenting with non-traditional models of ministry "didn't I already solve this once?"
the reminders of frontend (JS/TS), backend (C#), database (T-SQL)
issues and how Adam has solved them
August - November 2014
Adam and Heidi go across the U.S. on trains, retreat at monasteries,
and live in Jerusalem and Rome. Attempting to be "guests" for the entirety.
Discovering new ways of looking at humans' relationships with each other and their spaces

Part of the 2014 Annual Meeting for the Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois

Heidi's and my church (the Episcopal Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois) apparently has a love-hate relationship with their annual meetings. I can't say I blame them.

Every year, usually around the end of January or beginning of February, the church stays after worship for a 45-minute meeting. The "love-hate" aspect comes in because sometimes these meeting are boring. Long finance discussions, lots of banter between the congregation and the speaker(s) ... of which not many people can hear -- it's no wonder attendance drops on those Sundays. But there's a loving aspect to it too; the congregation often loves the potluck meals afterwards. They also are willing to get creative with Heidi as she leads them into brainstorming sessions on where they've seen God working in the past year.

Typically, I don't get to go to those meetings. It's a situation I'm usually fine with. Usually I am lucky enough to be the adult sponsor for the youth. Sometimes we go out bowling; sometimes we take care of the littler kids; sometimes, like this year, we have Sunday School like normal.

I did get to contribute to the meeting in a way that made me there in spirit - if not in real presence. When Heidi asked meto create a slideshow from some of my photography from the past year, I made an executive decision:
No, I won't create it Powerpoint; no, every slide won't be 0.8 seconds longer than it should be (at 4 seconds); and no, we're not going to have this going in the background as ambient visuals throughout the whole meeting. My photos tell stories and this slideshow was going to tell A STORY!
The video at the top of this post is what came out of that decision.

The story: our congregation received an amazing gift from the Diocese this year. The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, of which our congregation is a part, paid off the remainder of the mortgage for our building. It's exciting news for us as a church. Our annual meetings switched from focusing on creative ways to meet the funding gap between pledges and the mortgage payments ... and instead moved to how we can do more local ministries in our community. We're already in year two of our partnership with Morningstar Mission in Joliet. We're going back to the basics and reinvesting in our Christian education programs to help make more disciples. Theologically, I've noticed that we've switched from a theology of scarcity ("will we have enough?") to a theology of abundance ("God is already doing so much ...")

It's a good story, and it's not even to the middle chapter yet.

Hopefully Heidi and I get several more years of these types of slideshows to make.

The church would be lucky if more of its preachers could put expiration dates on their words.

Seriously, folks. The average pastor, vicar, parson, priest, friar, or other type of clergy person isn't going to be assembling the next Complete Sermons anthology. Their words aren't good enough. Nor are the best preachers' in the world. Their words aren't good enough.

Good enough for what?

For producing a compendium of timeless wisdom on life, God, and salvation.

There are no words for such an impossible task.

Context matters

I ran into this issue when considering if my new website should have a sermons section. Was it worth re-posting my sermons on my own "property?" Were the words even mine to own?

Considering that they were for a specific gathered community, at a specific moment in history, and within the greater context of worship; and more importantly, considering that I'm often guest-preaching and am paid for those words and leadership during the service ...

... considering all of that, my words barely make sense on their own.

They can't stand up under their own weight.


Yes, I probably could re-work them into a shorter blog post. Or I could probably weave them into a newsletter article. But even then, they still would need an audience.

And I guess that raises other questions -- like, could I re-use those words in another sermon for another congregation ... or for the same community (even if, a la Heraclitus, it's a different congregation)? The next time the lectionary brought up those scripture passages, are my old words fair game for re-use?

Does a digital archive for comparison "water down" the eligible elements of the preached words?

My approach

Best of all possibilities:

The congregation has a website to post on
  • They can post video, audio of the whole service
  • Accompanying the media are links that go directly to the different parts of the service
  • Sermon text is available for accessibility purposes, but is activated with a button by the media, and not splayed out across the website, taking up all of the visual spacing
  • Comments are disabled for the sermon itself
  • Copyright notices are put up for the content the congregation can own (obviously not hymnody ... in most instances)
Slightly less good possibilities:
  • I post just the sermon words to my own website
  • I share the links primarily on the congregation's social media and not through my own channels
  • I put lots of disclaimers like "you had to have been there ..." or "These were approximately what I said ..."
Worst of all possibilities:
  • Sermon texts are posted to a page outside of the congregation's or the minister's moderator-ability ("control" on the internet is a facade)
  • Sermon texts don't include scripture references
  • Sermon texts are incomplete or misrepresent what was really preached at worship
  • Sermon texts are forwarded in email chains

My Latest Sermon

I wish I could say I had setup my wife's congregation for the best of all possibilities. On some Sundays (like the ones when I remember to bring my audio recorder), they are close. But even still -- context matters.

Here's my latest sermon that I preached at the Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

It's not the best of all possibilities.

And you really had to be there (especially for the karaoke section near the beginning).

And my words would be best if they expired sometime in the near future.

But nevertheless, I'm thankful that sermons can be shared, and I'm hopeful others will hear what God wants them to hear in the process.