Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reflections on preaching at the Fall Polity Conference

Yesterday I preached a sermon at the Opening Worship service for our denomination’s Fall Polity Conference, which is put on by our Office of General Assembly. Every year the Stated Clerks of our Presbyteries and others gather for a national conference. Because General Assembly will be held next summer in Minneapolis, this year’s Fall Polity Conference is being held in Minneapolis. Chaz Ruark, the Executive Presbyter of Twin Cities Area Presbytery, asked me to preach at this worship service.

I’ve never had the opportunity to preach at a national conference, so I immediately said yes. When he extended me the invitation Chaz asked me to share hope and energy and not bemoan the problems of the PC(USA). It’s not hard for me to share energy. Sometimes I get so carried away in my presentations that my wife, Amy, rightfully gets on my case. She has told me many times that people aren’t looking for the energizer bunny in a sermon.

My sister, Pam Prouty, is the Stated Clerk of Minnesota Valleys Presbytery. She was able to join me in worship yesterday.

It certainly is a bit intimidating to preach in front a group of national group of Presbyterian leaders (most who don’t know me) in a hotel. So I was a bit nervous. But to be honest I was just as nervous giving my talk last Wednesday night at our Alpha Celebration Dinner. I was a bit nervous when I spoke in front of 45 people last Sunday morning at the Presbyterian Church in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. I’m used to being a bit nervous before I speak.

In the sermon I was trying to stoke the passion in our leaders about the future of our denomination. I also wanted to share a bit about the story of Chain of Lakes Church and I wanted to share my thought on the absolute importance of making and cultivating disciples. If you’d like to read the sermon go here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20702940/Sermon-Fall-Polity-Conference

I think the sermon went well. I was able to share the thoughts I wanted, I wasn’t too energetic, I got a few laughs, after the sermon a few people shared very positive comments. However, I didn’t get a good sense of the entire group’s response as I didn’t talk to many people in the crowd about the sermon. The next event started immediately after the worship service concluded.

After the sermon I was so focused on what had just happened that I forgot to give the benediction. Thankfully a General Assembly staffer seamlessly filled in for me. Thanks for covering for me!

One more funny story. Grady Parsons, the Stated Clerk of our denomination, made a comment after my sermon that he couldn’t believe I was in high school when “Reunion” happened. “Reunion” was the event when the northern and southern Presbyterian churches came together in 1983. I made a comment in my sermon that many people who are 45 & under don’t know what "Reunion" is; we think it’s something we do with our high school classmates. I gently teased him after the service about this. Many of our Presbyterian leaders (who I admire and respct) still talk about “Reunion.” I can understand and respect that “Reunion” was a significant part of their lives. But “Reunion” happened 26 years ago. I think it’s time to move on.

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