"Whaddaya mean you want a month's vacation! In the trades here you start out with two weeks. Hell, it took me thirty-five years to get a month's vacation. What's wrong with you, anyhow?"

When I heard the voice crackling at the other end of the line, I should have known the pastorate I was about to accept was going to be a rough go. I did receive the standard month's vacation, but not until a denominational executive intervened. The previous two pastors of this working-class church had been asked to resign. What equipped me-a young minister raised in an affluent suburb and Harvard educated-to lead these blue-collar people?


My first morning at the church was an awakening. Several retired men from the church had developed the habit of dropping by the church office to see if there was any work they could do. But mainly they sat all morning shooting the breeze because they wanted to get out of the house, and except for the gas station and barbershop, there was nowhere else in town ...

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