A few weeks ago, I received the most unusual and delightful email. Lauren Cochran and Matt Wrzeszcz are pastors at Yorkfield Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst. They sent me a humorous video of the middle school students asking me to come to their confirmation class. Pastor Lauren first had them ask in a nice voice, “Please come to our confirmation class.” Then she had them put on a mean-mug and use an aggressive voice, “Please come to our confirmation class!!” It was hilarious! How can I resist a group of 7th and 8th graders—some dressed in hoodies, others with braces, and freckled faces—pleading for me to come and talk to their class! We set a date and along with Lauren and Matt, I had a full day of preaching to the congregation and meeting with the middle school youth.
For that Sunday, I decided to preach as though I were speaking to the middle school young adults. My sermon was filled with affirmations, encouragement, and support. I used terms like, “You are amazing!” and “You are beautiful and blessed!” After worship as I greeted the congregation, an older man said, “Thank you for your sermon. You made me feel young again, like I was in middle school!”
I am beginning my second year as your executive presbyter. This past year has brought the typical hills and valleys of ministry. Through these experiences I’ve been impressed by the quality, professionalism, and expertise I find at session meetings, committee meetings, and when preaching to congregations. Each week of my leadership, I have an encounter that leaves me smiling and feeling joyful about the people I serve and the colleagues I serve with. You are amazing!
I’ve been playing around with a new tagline on my email. It reads, “Ministry can be fun because of people like you!” Even as we face the many challenges of doing meaningful and relevant ministry in Chicagoland, we can face them with confidence because when push comes to shove, we are presbytery together.
It is a blessing to serve a diverse and strong presbytery. I’m blessed to serve as your executive presbyter for another year.
Rev. Craig M. Howard