CHMCarol Howard Merritt is a pastor of Western Presbyterian Church, an intergenerational congregation in Washington, D.C. Western’s deep commitment to serving the poor in the city has helped to initiate programs like Miriam’s Kitchen, a social service program for the homeless which provides a hot, nutritious breakfast and dinner for over 200 men and women; Project Create, which teaches art to children in transitional housing; and HIPS which stands for Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive.

Carol’s the author of Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation (Alban, 2010) and Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation (Alban, 2007).

Carol is also the co-host of God Complex Radio. And she blogs for the Huffington Post.

Everyone is welcome. The scope of the entries is focused on church leaders, especially ones who want to grapple with the changes that are occurring in culture, in concrete and realistic ways.

Photo by Heather Wilson

47 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Carol,

    I am working on entering the ministry. I am 52 and will be finishing my undergrad in the Spring of ’08. I’m on the email list of the Alban Institute and just finished reading your recent article. The fact that you had pastored in RI caught my attention, since I live in West Warwick, RI, though originally from upstate NY.

    Since you were in Barrington, did you know Pastor Eide at St. James Lutheran in Barrington? My husband and I go to Emanuel in West Warwick, but have had contact with her through synod assembly and other meetings.

    Blessings and enjoy DC.
    Ivy Gauvin

  2. Yes! Liz and I were good friends. She’s an amazing pastor. In fact, I thank her in the acknowledgements of TC because our many conversations helped me to write it.

    Of course, I haven’t heard much from her or Nick since the twins. They seem to have both hands full!

    Best wishes to you as you prepare for your important calling.

  3. Thank you for the swift reply. God bless. I have bookmarked your blog.

    I have been hearing and reading more about the “third wave.” Have you interfaced at all with any of the emerging folks? A great blog by one of the emerging leaders is Jesuscreed.org. It’s Scot McKnight’s blog. He wrote “The Real Mary,” “Praying with the Church,” and a number of other books.


  4. Carol,

    Thank you for your article in the Alban listserve this week. It really hit home for me, as I serve a small Presbyterian church located in a larger metropolitan area. I look forward to reading your book and wrestling with the notion of the “missing generation”, a distinct reality in the church that I serve. I do have one question, though I may have missed the answer in the article and I’m sure will be made clear in the book — when you first began to gather the group of young adults, was this at the small rural church in LA, or was it later when you had gone to Western in DC?

  5. John,

    Thanks for stopping by the site. We were able to provide support for young adults in LA, but it’s much easier in DC. There are just so many more 20/30s here than there were in the Cajun heartland.

    All my best to you and your church!

  6. HI Carol,

    Thanks to Alban I was able to look up your work,and I felt a kinship having done rural ministry for 5 yrs, downtown and now suburban, reading all the books-trying to find a way to honor context and yet reach out to an emergent generation.
    I was interested in your blog piece on preaching, and the reflection on how much we put ourselves in the text, I can’t remember who it was, who said all preaching is biographical. But it seems to me that what is lacking the means by which to have conversations in preaching so our voice is not the only voice heard. The connection and contribution we all have to offer, can make for really meaningful “sermon” time. Honoring the mulitude of questions and really being engaged as a community and not just the “professional” I appreciate Pagitt’s work- and in a congregation where the average age is 70, they too are hungry for conversation.
    I’m presently working on a d.min with the area being emerging preaching. If your open to more conversation about this that would be great.


    Forest Grove United Church

  7. I love this picture, hadn’t seen it before. In the About description, why use the word “although”? It sounds just a bit like it’s drawing a boundary around who would be interested — why not let people decide for themselves?

  8. Martin! How are you? I hope all is well.

    No more free haircuts. I’m afraid that I hung up my scissors a while ago…. I think it was after I gave Brian one too many of them in seminary! His hair was looking a little wild there at the end.

  9. All is well here. I can tell all is well with you. Congrats! None of your many accomplishments comes as a surprise to me.

    I love reading your blog–it’s so fun to “listen” to smart people think about church, faith, and society. Keep up the fine work!

    Perhaps someday your travels will bring you to my town. I’d love to catch you and Brian up on the past 21 years (yikes, right?) If you’re ever in West Michigan, mi casa es su casa.

  10. Quick question for you – I teach a course at our seminary entitled Ministering to Young Adults. To this point I have not found any resource a) suitable for Masters level students b) really helpful in terms of framing a ministry response to this great generation of young adults. I am often doing searches for new books online and found yours and wondered if it would be a suitable for a seminary course? I am also using Jeffery Arnett, and James Fowler … so something with a bent towards ministry implications is really what I am looking for? Thanks!

  11. Yes, I think Tribal Church would be a good resource and balance with those. It’s being used in a number of seminary courses, and it’s definitely written from a practical/pastoral perspective.

    I’d be happy to send you a copy.

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  13. Hi Carol:
    Back in October, 2008, you posted an article on Slaying the Dragon. Our UCC Church has a good size endowment and we have been exploring the possibility of transferring our endowment assets into a trust or a foundation to support our entire operation including programs, administration and missions. The trustees, the majority of whom would be church members would be charged with protecting our assets agaginst liability, using a % of the assets to grow the church and providing funds for new church growth and redevelopment. Do you know of other churches who have done the same and could you give me their websites? We need to learn about how others have done since forming their trusts or foundations? Irene Hope

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  15. Hi Carol

    I’m 23, and am working at Voxbiblia (Voxbiblia.com, biblesearch.org) right now, with the vision of trying to use technology to make the Bible available to the world, both in digital and audio format.

    We’re right now in the process of launching a competition to encourage people to create Christian templates. I believe you, too, can understand how difficult it can be to set up a blog or site that looks good, and we would like to encourage as many believers to have a blog that speaks of their faith. The templates will be distributed freely to anyone who wishes to use them.

    I was wondering if you’d be willing to post this competition up on your site, and spread word of this competition, once it’s up?

    Many thanks
    Hui Hui, Chris

  16. Dear Carol,
    I am reading your book currently and am so moved. I’ve been very disillusioned with the church in recent years. I’m a progressive Christian living in the South. My husband has been so put off by the “Public face of Christianity” he is having a really hard time even going to church. We have a large family, four teens, and we want to raise them in the church, however the message the church often gives is directly against our values. It seems to be a face of the wealthy, upper middle class, white, heterosexual. We have taught our kids to accept and love all people regardless of sexual preference, color, or religious preference or the lack there of. Our friends outside of church are very different: they tend to be artistic free spirited types, various ethnic backgrounds, religions, and quite a few who are agnostic. It can be quite confusing for not only our children but our friends who often see the church as the oppressor.
    Soon you will be in my town to speak to my church and teach a workshop, and I am looking so forward to meeting you.


  17. Carol, I’ve been following you for a while now! Great work! In my ministry so far, I’ve been wondering a lot about the challenges you raise and then came across “Almost Christian” by Kendra Creasy Dean and am really feeling glad to know that there are people out there actually writing about this. (Gives me ammo/street cred for what I try to say to my non 20s 30s or even 40s session/congregation members)

    Your leadership is a gift to me!!

  18. Debra, I really appreciate it. I have enjoyed Kenda’s work as well. I look forward to reading Almost Christian. I’ve never met her, but I want to…

    Thanks, John. I will be sure to read Jonathan’s work.

    The metaphor of “tribe” is imperfect, as all metaphors are. It breaks down on several levels. But I simply wanted to point to an intergenerational community that cares for one another. Have you read my book?

  19. Hi Carol,

    I was stuck at home today waiting for the H. Earl to pass over massachusetts area, and decided to do some internet browsing. I came across your blog. Your name sounds familiar. But, just to make sure if you went to Austin Seminary years ago.

    Your face looks familiar. I am pretty sure that we met at the seminary. But, again, I am probably wrong.

    I looked up your book, and the title sounds very interesting. i look forward to reading it.

    I am going to check your blog as well. I am glad I found it.


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  21. Hi Carol,
    I discovered your blog while reading the Moody Alumni news, which has an update about you and your husband.
    I graduated from Moody in May of 1991, so perhaps we were there at the same time. I’m an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church, serving in Moline, IL. I look forward to browsing your blog. 🙂


    Darin Youngs

  22. Carol-

    Thank you for the voice you offer to the Church. I’m a 3rd-year seminary student at Candler School of Theology and an Associate Pastor. I’ve long searched for voices like yours because much of what I find in the Methodist Church is too often out of sync with the greater society.

    I minister with young adults at the church I’m serving. I also have a passion for that ministry and am mulling around an idea for a book project targeting young adult ministry once I graduate. I would love it if I could bounce some ideas off of you via email sometime. I know you have a tremendous schedule to keep. But any guidance you can give a young pastor would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again!

    Ben Gosden

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  25. Emilie,

    Yes, I do a lot of speaking engagements, for every denomination. I suppose I should make that more clear on the blog… I’ll send you an email.

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