(This post also appears in this week’s First Words.)

The Olympics are in full swing. Every time they come around I think that I’m not all that interested, and every time I end up getting hooked! I’m enjoying swimming, for starters. Seeing Michael Phelps back once again, and with renewed vigor, is fun. I think he’s now up to 21 gold metals! Katie Ledecky is awesome…some say maybe to be greater than Phelps! And how about the gold medal winning women’s gymnastics team and Simone Biles, who has been called the greatest gymnast ever!

My daughter Kari and her family arrived on Sunday evening after driving from Charlotte/Fort Mill by way of Tennessee. Well, Kari’s husband Mark realized before Tennessee that he had missed his turn, but never could tell me where exactly they turned around!

Monday afternoon Kari and Mark headed to Asheville for an overnight engagement and break from baby. Right after they left, my wife Susan headed out to an event of her own. Which meant 10-month-old Mercer and his Papa (that’s me!) were left on their own.

(With the exception of the final paragraph, this post was also included in this week’s First Words.)

Once again I sit down to write this post with our country grieving another tragedy. Once again, this time in Baton Rouge, one of our own lifelong American citizens has attacked and murdered police officers. This shooter was a former Marine. The fear deepens. The mistrust grows. The atmosphere becomes more tense, all of which, I fear, makes it more likely that other tragic shootings will occur.

This week an important meeting is taking place at Lake Junaluska. The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church convenes on Wednesday and concludes on Friday.

There will be lots of reports, I am told, mostly on video, of various ministries and missions throughout the Southeast. However, the primary activity of the conference is to elect new bishops for those who are retiring and to assign bishops to their “episcopal areas” throughout the Southeast.

As I write this, there are happy sounds coming from outside my office window. Wacky Worship Wednesday is in full force, and there are some 60 children having a wonderful time, while learning and growing together. The summer interns, volunteers and staff are insuring that it is a good experience.

This seems to be a time of change for our church staff. It was with great joy that we shared the news on Sunday of the birth of Ava Leigh Wood Taylor to Scott and Lauren. Scott was out last Sunday and will take a bit more time to be with family before returning to his musical duties. Congratulations, Scott and Lauren on the birth of this beautiful new life!

When we were worshiping Sunday morning in three inspiring worship services, we might have heard something had happened in Orlando, but none of us realized the enormity of the horror that was taking place.  In retrospect, I wish we had known…I wish we had known to spend a few minutes of respectful silence and prayer, at least.


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