Woodlawn CC

Woodlawn CC

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Well we're back home from spending the morning in worship with all the good folks at Salem United Church of Christ.  I felt the sermon went well and my daughter Maddie was able to record it for me.  Unfortunately she started recording it on her camera and her battery died.  She made a quick shift of devices and caught the rest on her phone.  She said it was at a point that I had paused and thinks it will be fairly seamless.

She hasn't spliced the two together yet for me (heck if I know how to do that) so when she gets it done I will try and get it online and link it here.

Was wonderful to be out in the country again and worshiping with all the good people!

Here is a photo of another lovely South Dakota Church.  This one is a Catholic Church in Hoven South Dakota and is sometimes called the Cathedral of the Prairie.  This church is visible for what seems like miles as you come up on Hoven.  Right out of college I interviewed with the Bank in Hoven and was offered a job there which I declined.  I sometimes wonder how vastly different life would have been if I had taken that job.  Just a few years later I learned the Senior Vice President was arrested for a check kiting scheme that he and another banker from a bank on I believe the west coast had going on.  Might have made for an immediate opening to move up that ranks. LOL

Catholic Church in Hoven, SD

Have a very blessed weekend and remember to be a blessing to somebody today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bless Somebody Today

I just had three wonderful women from St. Paul's Lutheran Church come into the Gallery to have an image of Christ reframed for their Church Library.

We got to talking and of course as I am so want to do when the opportunity presents itself, I started teaching.  They were fascinated as I unpacked information to them about the early church and it's history going forward to today.  After I was finished they asked me if I would consider coming to visit St. Paul and teach a class or classes for them in their adult education.  I told them I was not certain I was worthy but I would be happy to do so.

I gave them my business card and they resolved to have their Reverend come by or call me to visit with me.  Apparently they are in the process of some changes in the church and they are wanting to introduce a Biblical Teaching program.

God is amazing and I am as always humbled that he might use someone such as I to edify his people.

God's Grace and Love to you all!


Solemn Oaths and Vows......

Good Morning,

Today I am compelled to reflect on what I look forward to in my future ministry with the most enthusiasm and the most anxiety. That is the joining of two people in the holy bonds of matrimony. Sadly it has never been my experience that ministers do an adequate job of premarital counseling and advising (and there is certainly no maintenance provided). This is an area in which I fully intend to spend several sessions meeting with the engaged couple and pushing them to reveal to each other their very most deeply held wishes and hopes for the marriage.  The couple also needs to be armed with methods for conflict resolution, and much, much more.

I hope to convey to them the very depth of the covenant that they are not only making with each other but to God himself. It is a time of absolute joy, but young (and old) couples need to understand the great gravity of the act of coming before God and man and making a Holy Covenant.

For me the fact that I am being asked to perform the wedding means that I too am a member of the cast in this marriage. And as I discussed with my fellow ELM student Chuck Snow on our way back from Hastings the other day, I fully intend to insist that any and all couples I might wed to sign an agreement with me personally. This agreement would be a solemn oath given from them to me and witnessed by the Almighty that before they would ever even consider divorce or separation that they will spend a minimum of four counseling sessions with me personally. I may even go as far as to make them pledge further sessions if I deem they are required. My mind plays with the idea as well of asking them to spend a session with me annually to discuss how the marriage is doing.

I fully intend to come off heavy handed on this regard as I have very deeply held convictions and opinions on marriage. I feel there is no greater responsibility that I will bear upon my shoulders as a future minister and advocate to my loving God than to join people in a life together and it is my job to set the stage for them to be successful. If I am unable to give them a greater chance at a successful marriage than the local judge then I have no business being involved nor for that matter presenting myself as an emissary of Christ.

May you all find peace, joy and love.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Memory of my Mentor Jesse

Tomorrow 5/21/12 will be six months since my dear friend and Mentor the Rev. Dr. Jesse Brown passed away.  I just wanted to put up a post in his honor.  As I stated the other day Jesse was an incredible man and had many remarkable accomplishments to his credit.  Undoubtedly he was the greatest influence on me in my decision to go down this path to formal ministry.  I only wish Jesse had been able to keep the promise he made to me to see me through the process and into my first pulpit.  Forever I shall remember taking Jesse out to lunch to discuss my desire to pursue this path into ministry and the support and encouragement that Jesse gave me.  Jesse always thought more of me and my abilities than I have ever or will ever think myself.

This is far from a good photo of Jesse
but it's all I have at the moment.
This photo was part of a newspaper article
where they interviewed Jesse about his friendship
and relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I took one of Jesse's books with me to the ELM class this weekend a copy of "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.  We were to bring something along that reminded us of someone who had a significant impact on our spiritual journey.  I had special bookplates made up for the books Jesse and Kathy gave to me and as I came to this particular book I saw that it had a bookplate of Jesse's in it and that it simply stated Mr. Jesse Brown not Reverend nor Doctor.  Upon reading the plate farther I saw that it listed his address as Crozer Seminary... I literally felt a chill as I realized this book had been with Jesse at Crozer where he roomed across the hall from Dr. King.  To think that this book had at the very least been in the same room with Dr. King and was now in my possession was incredibly humbling.  What a life Jesse had and what amazing people had my good friend known and befriended.

In my memorial to Jesse at his service I said the following.  "It was my considered honor to literally hold my dear friend Jesse's hand as he walked through the very gates of Heaven.  When the day finally comes that it is my turn to walk through those same gates, I suspect that I'll see just inside my old friend Jesse.  With that glint in his eyes, that wry smile on his lips, his head cocked for effect, and his hand outstretched, he'll say to me "what took you so danged long...."  There are many, many folks I look forward to seeing again someday in whatever form Heaven maybe, but there are scant few that I look forward to visiting with again more than Jesse.  The wonderful thing is the next time we visit we'll know all the answers to the questions we so loved to debate.

God Bless You Jesse my beloved friend. 

I would ask that you might all pray for Jesse's widow Kathy Brown.  I'm certain tomorrow will be a very difficult day.  I will try to call her at some point in the day, but I know she would appreciate the support of your prayers.

Be the Blessing,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A couple pictures from the old days.

Six of the Eight Karlen kids, summer of 1980
Boys from left to right: Brad, Warren, Roy (me)
Girls from left to right: Julie, Connie, Paula
We're all in front of my much loved 1979 Cougar which is currently
at the Ranch and sitting not far from where it's parked in this photo.
Sad to say though she's in serious need of being restored.
Wm Roy Karlen photos

Me and my favorite old cowpony Scout.
He was one amazing old cowpony, miss that old horse so very much.
Wm Roy Karlen photos

ELM Training Session - Christian Education

Back home from 'ELM', this session and next month are covering Christian Education.  It was a very interesting class taught by Dr. Ted Huffman, Senior Minister at 1st Congregational United Church of Christ, Rapid City, SD.  I really enjoyed meeting and visiting with Ted.  He seems to be a very interesting man and some of his background I can relate to very easily.  I envy him with being able to pastor a church in the beautiful Black Hills, certainly one of the most gorgeous places in the USA.

Since I have long said that I'm more of a teacher than a preacher, I found this session very worthwhile.  Only problem is Ted referred to several books which I now desperately want.  The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer and Stages of Faith by James W. Fowler are two that were mentioned that I very much would like to purchase as well as several others that were referenced.  Ted also told me about a book on the brain that sounded very interesting but he could not recall the exact title and author so I asked him to please forward it to me.  (on top of all that I purchased a book for the upcoming Baptist Polity class 'Down by the River, a brief history of Baptist Faith', by Everett C. Goodwin)  The problem is that with all of the books I inherited from Jesse my library is bursting at the seams.  This summer's project will be rearranging and modifying the basement in order to be able to shelve my current library.  I have laughingly said that I need to find a pulpit soon just to have more shelf room.

I will close this post with a couple more images of country churches, again all of these churches are located up in South Dakota.

As always please remember to "be a blessing to somebody today".

In God's Love,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A few more beautiful South Dakota Country Churches.

God's Houses in God's Country.  What can be more beautiful....

Remember to be a blessing to somebody today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A bit about myself

5/15/12 Just who is this WmRoy anyway?

Okay, let me start out by telling a little bit more about myself. I am the 3rd oldest of 8 siblings. My father was a Rancher in Lyman County, South Dakota and my brothers and sisters and I had the good fortune to be raised in what is certainly the greatest place on earth. I grew up riding horses since before I can even remember and I learned to drive at an extremely young age. Mine was a wonderful childhood of hard work and often dangerous experiences. Somehow I survived my childhood and ultimately, I ended up in Omaha, Nebraska where I still call home.

Laura, Merrill Jr. and Roy Karlen, back from fishing.
My wife, Gail and I own and operate an Art Gallery and Custom Framing Shop in Omaha called Leonardo's Art and Prints. The web address is www.leonardosart.net we are a full service gallery and frame shop located just off of 120th and West Center Road in Omaha. In addition to owning the Gallery, I am also a professional abstract artist and my works are marketed under the brush name “Klaude Montier”. When people ask me why I use an alias, I tell them it's to protect the innocent... “ME!” Seriously, I use a different name only because many folks are in the habit of saying less than kind things about abstract art and I don't want them to say something and then read the tag on the art and realize that it's mine. I honestly don't care if folks like my work or not, I'm happy to sell you something different and as an abstract artist I have to have a pretty thick skin... which I do.

Art by Klaude Montier (a/k/a Wm Roy Karlen)
We have two children here on earth, our son William Creath Karlen (Creath) and our daughter Madeline Kaye Karlen (Maddie or Mad). My son is named after myself and his maternal great-grandfather (Gail's, mother's father). My daughter is named after her fraternal great-grandmother (my father's mother). Creath's name is interesting in that according to his great-grandfather's Bible, Creath is an Irish name which means “Great Preacher”. So with William meaning Guardian, and Karlen originally being a Swedish name (my family came from Switzerland but immigrated there from Sweden in the middle ages) meaning Man; his name becomes literally “Guardian Great Preacher Man”.

Madeline is of course derived from Maria Magdalena (which is what my grandmother's name actually was but nobody knew that until after her death, Madeline Karlen is on her headstone). Madeline was going to be Madeline as soon as I had a daughter that name was determined in my mind while I was still a child. My grandmother was one of the greatest influences in my life, and both her life and even more so her death ultimately shaped my life greatly. It had been one of my greatest hopes from a very early age that my grandmother would get to hold at least my first child, unfortunately that never came to be. I must confess that this failure caused a great deal of irrational anger and destructive behavior on my part, unfortunately it took many years for that anger to pass.  Now however, I do think grandma would be proud of her great-grandson as well as her little great-granddaughter as Maddie is just as wonderful a person as her namesake.

My Grandmother, Madeline Karlen.
Holding my sister Julie's first born Bryant.
Wm Roy Karlen photo
Creath is a junior at the University of Sioux Falls and is a Theology/Philosophy Major and a Music Minor. He plans to go into the music industry upon graduation working with recording as well as production. Creath is a very gifted musician being classically trained on the violin since the age of 6. He also plays the bass guitar, mandolin and guitar. He has the largest collection of music I've ever seen with many thousands of songs saved to his laptop and phone. Any of which he is more than happy to discuss the technical merits of as well as the origins, influences and genre.

Creath Karlen with his second violin a 1/4 size.  He started with a 1/8.
Maddie started violin with a 1/10 size, tiny, tiny, tiny.
Wm Roy Karlen photo

Maddie is a junior in High School and has not yet worked out what she wants to do in life. She is interested in photography (and has a wonderfully artistic eye), fashion design, and interior design. She is highly creative and exceptionally outgoing. Maddie is the one that can walk into a room filled with people and leave with everyone in the room having fallen in love with her. She is beautiful both inside and out and that beauty just radiates all around her. Of course as her father I may be a little biased but I long ago lost count of the boys and now young men that have professed their undying love to her. She has a long term boyfriend Joe who she adores and they make a wonderful couple even though he is 6' 3” and she is just under 5' tall.

Madeline Karlen with her boyfriend Joseph.
Note that Maddie is standing on a stool that is about 12" tall.
Wm Roy Karlen photo

My wife and I also have a third child who waits for us in heaven. His name is Wyatt Christian Karlen and he was born and died between the births of our 'earth children' (Christian is a name that has a long history in the Karlen family, both my great and great-great-grandfathers were named Christian). After his death we realized we had given him an angel's name for it translates to either Guide or Warrior “Anointed in Christ”, he is our gift to heaven. Though I honestly don't believe in the notion that children who die become angels, it does provide some comfort to say things like that to ourselves. His death was without a doubt the worst day of my life. But as so many say that God's son was their savior, in a very, very real sense my son was my savior. For while I sat there holding the lifeless body of my dear little boy I swore that I would change and do whatever I had to do to insure that I would ultimately end up in heaven with him one day. At that moment I lost all fear of my own death and whereas I hope to spend many more years here serving my Lord, I also long to be reunited with that child that I never got to know here on earth.

My Great Grandfather Christian Karlen.
He and his brothers came to the USA from Switzerland.
They helped establish the cheese industry in Wisconsin and his brother
Jacob Karlen is in the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Christian moved to South Dakota and went into farming and cattle ranching.
Wm Roy Karlen photo

Besides preparing for the ministry my other great interest in life is weight training. During my last years of high school, college, and until my mid 20's I trained for and competed in Powerlifting. Lifting was a very big part of my life and when I had to retire in my mid to late 20's due to injuries I will confess it left me ungrounded. Today I train with the same belt and other equipment that I used so long ago, picking up my old belts is like seeing an old friend, walking into a busy gym for me is like walking into my home. Until I got back into the gym I don't think I really appreciated how important lifting is for me and how incomplete I was without it. (Though today I also look at the gym as a mission field.)

I started trying to train again about five years ago. My father was basically dying of osteoporosis, he was just literally breaking. Though he died of complications, there is no doubt the real cause of his death was the numerous broken ribs and vertebrae that he suffered at the end of his life. Since osteoporosis runs on both sides of my family and had also been the root cause of two of my grandparents deaths I began researching how best to fend off it's onset. I learned that heavy weight training was the best protection and so I went about having several surgeries to repair the damage I had done to myself in my youth.

Me (Roy Karlen) with my niece Makayla Ring.

After a number of years of working up slowly and basically rehab I am finally back to where I was or perhaps even a bit better than I was in my 20's. I have no desire to compete in Powerlifting again or any other strength competitions for that matter. I do play in my mind with the idea of stepping onto a bodybuilding stage someday but not until I'm in my 60's or beyond. There is no doubt now in my mind that I will stay smart, lift smart and stay in the gym for the remainder of my days. Given my family history it will certainly lengthen my life and hopefully will allow me to attain my often stated goal of preaching on my 106th birthday. November 22, 2065, it's the first time my birthday falls on a Sunday after I turn 100, you're all invited though the location and sermon topic have not yet been determined.

As far as for my spiritual journey which has taken me on this path to ministry. I have transitioned through attending the United Church of Christ as a child, calling myself an atheist, attending church on rare occasions with friends in college, joining the Lutheran Church, and finally joining Sunset Hills Baptist Church, an American Baptist affiliated church. I am not however a strict denominational individual, there is no reason in my opinion why I couldn't attend and/or preach in a wide variety of denominations. I do however like the diversity found in the American Baptist denomination and I prefer the symbolism of a believers baptism to infant baptism. There are times I will confess that I miss the “high church” liturgical qualities of the Lutheran faith. I am not rabid anti-Creed like some Baptist and honestly I do find some edification in the reciting of both the Apostles and the Nicene Creeds.

Without a doubt the greatest influence in my faith journey has been my late Mentor the Rev. Dr. Jesse Brown. I was so very richly blessed to be able to become friends with and to study with Jesse for so many years. Jesse's PhD was in Old Testament Theology from Duke University, where he also taught for many years before going into the ministry. Jesse went back and forth from teaching and preaching several times during his career pastoring churches and teaching at Seminaries both back east and finally in the midwest. Jesse ended his professional career teaching Old Testament Studies at Central Seminary in Kansas City. Jesse was a graduate of Crozer Theological Seminary and was a seminary mate and close personal friend with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the day they met in seminary until Dr. King's untimely death. Dr. King was impressed that Jesse a white man had before coming to Crozer spent time in Harlem working for Civil Rights and as a result they formed a fast friendship. Jesse also helped translate some of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a graduate student at Duke University. He was in fact the very first person to translate some portions of the manuscripts.

For nearly six years I had the privilege of studying weekly not only with Jesse but with at least one other retired Minister and often three. Our study group often included the Rev. Sandy Smith, the Rev. Bob Molby, and the Rev. Dick Peterson, as well as retired Professor and College Administrator Edsel Buchanan. The other members of our group changed from time to time but it was always Jesse and I from start to finish. Most of our classes were led by Jesse but for some texts the class members would alternate weeks, for some texts Jesse and I would alternate, and at times Jesse would have me teaching an entire text. Nothing will make you prepare to teach like knowing that your students are four retired Ministers, one with a PhD and one (Rev. Molby) who has been ordained since 1949. Jesse left a great number of books to me and these books combined with my memories of him and his teaching will continue to feed and teach me for the remainder of my life.

I had the great honor of speaking at Jesse's memorial service and as I stated that day “Had you told me as a youth growing up in West River South Dakota that one day a man like Jesse; a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., a Duke Professor, a man who not only had touched but had been the first to translate portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, would become my friend and mentor, I would have thought you were crazy. And had you gone on to tell me that due to the influence of that same man I would go on to pursue a career as a minister... I would have KNOWN you were crazy. But yet that is exactly where I find myself today.” There is not a day when I don't want to discuss some bit of scripture or some idea from a book or article with Jesse, I suspect I shall always miss my beloved friend.

There have been many others who have nudged and fed me along the way and for fear of the crime of omission I will not even attempt to list them other than to point out the Rev. Bob Molby who is my current Mentor and who I have been blessed to consider a friend for many years. As I mentioned earlier Bob was ordained in 1949 and thus has an incredible amount of knowledge and wisdom to dispense to me as I walk closer and closer to formal ministry.

For those whom I have omitted in this brief outline please, please bear me no ill will for some are omitted in order to keep this to manageable size, some due to the very great pain of committing those memories to the page and others I believe would prefer to not be mentioned. Please know that I sincerely do love and cherish you all.

As I have said before the fact that our Loving God has seen fit to call me forth in his service is proof that he is willing and able to use even the greatest of sinners.

In His unending Love and Grace,

I will be doing Pulpit Fill at the Salem United Church of Christ near Steinhauer Nebraska on May 27th.  The service is at 10:15 am.  I'm looking forward to giving the sermon that day and plan to dedicate it to my friend Mark Winquist who passed away last year on May 28th.  If anyone is interested in going down with me just drop me a line, you're more than welcome to ride along if you're in the Omaha area.  After the service there will be a Memorial Day Service at the cemetery and I will be reading a poem and giving a prayer there also.

Salem United Church of Christ

Salem is a country church with only gravel roads leading to it, exactly my kind of church and the type of church I hope to spend my final years preaching in.


God's Love,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Well here is a test to embed a video.  I of course love Johnny Cash, and this is one of my favorites.

Enjoy the video and as always.... "Be a Blessing to Somebody Today"!

In his Grace,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I just love this photo.  Pardon me while I practice loading photos to the site, as I said I'm just getting the hang of all this and will try and start genuinuely blogging in the next several days.  In the meanwhile here are a few more photos to enjoy.


All of these as well as the Church in the Header of the Blog are Lutheran Churches out in the country in South Dakota.  You have to love these beautiful country Churches, so much history and character.

Hello and welcome to my blog.  Please understand that I'm just starting to blog and I'm working to figure out and understand how all of this works.  I will hopefully have the hang of it all soon and I will make this a hopefully somewhat interesting place to read and follow my journey into ministry.

In the meanwhile please stop by again in the near future as I hope to have this up and running by the end of May if not sooner.

Blessings to you all,