Who is Chris?

My name is Chris Duckworth. I am a husband, father, Lutheran pastor, National Guardsman, baseball fan, on-again/off-again runner, and political junkie.

 

More details than necessary:

I was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, PA, and I lived in the Philadelphia area for my first 32 years. The lifestyle and culture of Philadelphia – from its in-your-face down-to-earth nature, to its sandwich culture and its reputation for rowdy sports fans – has left an indelible imprint on me.

I was ordained in December 2008 at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Arlington, VA, where I served as Associate Pastor for two and a half years. In August 2011 I began serving as Senior Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church on the East Side of Saint Paul, MN. After two great years in Minnesota, we moved to Indiana for my wife’s new job. Shortly after arriving in Indiana I served as interim pastor at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, IN.

ropeIn April 2014 I took my oath as a Chaplain (1LT) in the US Army and Indiana Army National Guard. Not long later I was called to New Joy Lutheran Church in Westfield, IN, where I have served as Pastor since June 1, 2014.

Prior to ordination, I held a number of other church-related positions, including hospital chaplain, youth director, seminary development officer, and church publishing house traveling salesman. I also taught high school Spanish for one year in Philadelphia.

photo w JessIn October 2002 I married Jessicah Krey, a beautiful woman, scholar, pastor, friend,
baseball fan and lover of justice. Her career opportunities have led us from Philadelphia to the Washington DC area, to the Twin Cities, and now to Central Indiana, where we bought our first house and are settling down for years to come. Despite her loyalty to the abomination known as the Designated Hitter, I still love her. We have three children: Talitha, Cana, and Naaman.

Apart from church work, I enjoy my family, running, politics and news, baseball (particularly my hometown Phillies) and writing. I began this blog in 2005. Here’s some background – and limitations – on this blog.

 

Regarding my approach to church:

I can’t help but I wonder if we’re having an Acts 15 moment. The first Christians were debating how to understand the time-honored, God-given (literally) laws that defined the People of God. After witnessing the movement of the Spirit among non-circumcised Gentiles, the early Christians (who were Jews) decided that the ritual laws setting apart the Jewish people need not be required for Gentiles who received the Spirit.

The earliest Christians were willing to set aside God-given laws for the sake of newcomers and the expansion of the church. Just let that sink in for a moment.

And so while I am a Lutheran deeply committed to our traditions and theology, I also acknowledge that we might be in a time when everything – even our beloved traditions and ways of speaking of faith – needs to be on the table for the sake of mission.

We Lutherans tend to look back to the Reformation for guidance in how we go about “being church.” The Reformation, however, was a movement of reform within the church. Today the church is at a crossroads that looks much more like Acts than it does Wittenberg, engaging non-Christian populations and addressing fundamental questions of identity and purpose in our Christian communities. For example, the question for us today is less “what precisely do we believe about the real presence of our Lord in the sacrament?” (a question to ask among Christians in a broadly Christian culture), than it is, “Who or what is God, and what does God’s presence look and feel like?” (a question to ask among a variety of believers and non-believers alike in a culture of diverse beliefs and practices).

In the midst of this diversity and the changing landscape of the church, I’m deeply committed to the church and its mission to proclaim the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. Our faith is inherently eschatological, forward-looking, a faith that “looks for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” Indeed, the coming of the Kingdom of God was at the heart of the faith and hope of the early Christians, and is core to the DNA of the Christian church.

Every day we pray “thy kingdom come,” and Jesus shows us the Kingdom in myriad ways, both within and beyond the church’s walls and ministry. I believe that the Kingdom of God is rearing its wonderful head all the time – in the church, in our neighborhoods, in the world. Part of my calling as a Christian, and particularly as a pastor and church leader, is to name those instances of God’s Kingdom coming, and to encourage people to see and participate in it.

One Response to Who is Chris?

  1. Ruth Boettcher says:

    Chris, a few years ago on your blog you wrote about Advent and the prayers beginning with “stir up.” At the Saturday evening service at which we have fewer than 20 people prior to the Sunday of our Christmas program, I’m going to do a “Stir Up” service based on Old Testament verses. I’ll adapt what comes from this site:
    http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/worship-resources/item/download/1358‎
    “ADVENT: Stir-up Sunday. The service incorporating ‘The 19th Century Old Testament Cake Recipe…” I thought that a fun way to wind to an end the OT part of the Narrative Lectionary (how I “know” you). I’ll make some adjustments to the NL schedule with Isaiah and then John’s prologue.

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