Ralph Milton and His Books

HymnSight is my retirement project. Actually, it’s my third retirement project. I will run out of birthdays before too long, but in the meantime I have thoroughly enjoying working away at this resource over the past half-dozen years. And I’m hoping I have another half-dozen years to develop it further and make it even more useful.

One of the blessings of retirement is that what I do is no longer connected to making a living. So it’s most gratifying to give something, with no monetary strings attached, to the ecumenical church community that has nurtured me for so many years.

My first retirement effort was a coffee-table book, The Spirituality of Grandparenting, which I co-authored with Bev. She and I have shared life for 55 years. With her, the book was fun to research and write.

The second retirement project arose out of a best-selling book of Bible stories for children. The Family Story Bible just keeps on going and going.

But church-school teachers and clergy wanted more, so that resulted in The Lectionary Story Bible, a three-volume effort with stories and pictures for every Sunday in the three-year lectionary cycle. That was the hardest writing project I’ve ever done. Can you imagine trying to get children’s stories out of Paul’s letter to the Romans?

That’s when I made a resolution. No more books! They are too much work! So I picked up my battered camera and decided to pursue my old love of photography, only to find myself putting pictures to slides used in worship at First United in Kelowna, our home church. That project “just growed like Topsy.”

Suddenly I find myself having written yet another book, this time an “e-Manual” (how’s that for a bad pun?) to help folks enhance their ministry through the use of visuals in worship. All those books, (except of course for that e-Manual) are available through various books stores and on-line vendors like Amazon, but the best thing is to click on this address:

Wood Lake Publications

If you don’t mind (and even if you do) I’d like to tell you just a bit of my life-story so you’ll know what kind of a guy is behind all these slides.

I was born into a Mennonite family in southern Manitoba, and after a brief and unhappy try at teaching school, I moved into radio work (this was in the days before TV) as a radio actor, a disc jockey and a news reporter.

My volunteer work in the church led Bev and me and our two small children to the Philippines to train men and women from Southeast Asia in the art of Christian broadcasting. That work led to an assignment in New York with the National Council of Churches of the USA as a director of research in intercultural communications, and co-ordinating media outreach in developing nations.

Feeling somewhat homesick for Canada, we moved to Calgary where I spent a decade producing radio and TV programs for Alberta Interfaith. It was in Calgary that Bev was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada. She had studied theology in the Philippines.

Bev’s ministry led her to answer a call from the Okanagan to succeed United Church Moderator Gary Patterson in the Wood Lake Pastoral Charge. I had always wanted to spend more time writing, so I became a house-papa, gardener and free-lance writer. That writing led to a publishing venture with my colleague, Jim Taylor. And that grew into Wood Lake Books, which for a time was the largest and most active publishing house in Canada. All of which saw me thoroughly indoctrinated with a DSL (Doctor of Sacred Letters, whatever that is) from St. Stephen’s College and a DD from the Vancouver School of Theology. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree.

In the course of all that, I authored more books than anyone would ever want to read, some of which became best sellers. And I ran a blog called Rumors which got well past 8,000 subscribers before I felt the need to pack it in because it seemed I was just regurgitating the same stuff.

Which brings us back to where this little essay began.

HymnSight.ca

I sense this may be my “last hurrah” though my “sensor” has misled me before. I have no desire to spend my autumn years watching daytime TV and complaining about “kids these days” and “them.” Death is a friend who will be welcome, provided she/he doesn’t make it a long, drawn-out and painful process.

No, I’m not ready to write my obituary. All the above is simply to tell you that the whole HymnSight enterprise is something I do with great joy. Nobody benefits more from this project than I do. I have all the reward I need or deserve.

If you find it useful, and occasionally joyful, that will be a bonus.

Ralph Milton
Kelowna, BC,
November, 2012.