Years ago I belonged to a special "club" composed of Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, African Methodist, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Congregational pastors, along with Roman Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis.
This was the clergy association for the Huntington, New York, area. Twenty-five years later, the group is still fresh in my memory. Why? Certainly not because we always agreed; on the contrary, we had enthusiastic disagreements on various issues, such as the Viet Nam war. When we touched theological issues, many opinions were declared. A consensus was not one of our identifying characteristics.
Yet the purpose of our group was not to challenge each others' theology but to create an environment where we could think more deeply about our positions.
As a reader of Ministry, you also are part of a large and diverse group of clergy. Every other month more than 70,000 clergy from a broad spectrum of denominations receive this journal. Ministry provides an opportunity to experience and learn from diversity. It is a wonderful way to participate in an exchange of ideas, challenges, and solutions.
Ministry is inviting you to take part in one of the largest ministerial or clergy association meetings ever held. On Tuesday, April 20,1999, we are sponsoring a seminar, "Preaching That Turns the World Upside Down." The seminar will be broadcast live via satellite. Many of you participated in a similar event we sponsored last year. On the back page of this issue you will find an ad providing details on how you may sponsor such a seminar or how you can find the location of the seminar nearest you.
There are numerous reasons why clergy will benefit from this live, interactive seminar. I will share three of them.
Participate in outstanding preaching
One of the best ways to improve preaching is to participate in outstanding preaching. The three speakers in this year's seminar are renowned preachers who will present a sermon, discuss it, and respond to your phone calls or e-mail. They represent several theological perspectives and will help us to present biblical messages in a way that is challenging to our congregations. The speakers are:
• Walter Pearson, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, is the speaker of the Breath of Life, telecast.
• Marguerite Shuster, a Presbyterian minister, is a writer, preacher, and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.
• William Willimon, a United Methodist minister, is dean of the chapel and professor at Duke University.
The last time we held such a seminar, more than five hundred thirty satellite downlink sites participated in North America. These sites included churches, hospitals, colleges, universities, seminaries, and various other locations. Contact us if you need assistance in setting up a site.
Effective continuing education
Continuing education provides an opportunity to add a freshness and newness to our faith and our profession. I recall a group of pastors talking about a professor who taught a course about trends in contemporary theology. One of the individuals in the group reminded us that the professor lectured from notes that were yellowed and whose edges were dogeared with age. Whether we are chaplains, pastors, evangelists, or professors, we need to be certain that we present the message from fresh notes. The April 20 seminar gives you an opportunity to participate in the best of continuing education.
April 20 also gives you an opportunity to fellowship with local clergy and to participate in an event that will be attended by thousands of clergy in hundreds of locations. How often have you wanted to meet a fellow clergy-person in your community, but somehow it has never happened? This seminar gives you an opportunity to meet those colleagues.
Can preaching turn the world upside down? Can it really happen again? You can wrestle with this question for yourself by participating in the Ministry Professional Growth Seminar on Tuesday, April 20,1999.
Makes me think of those early days in Huntington....