Dream, Imagine, Hope: My Personal Experience of LEAD 2013

Megan Cochran is a 2012 alumna of McCormick Theological Seminary (M.Div.). She currently serves as a pastoral resident at Lake View Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL

When. This is the word that Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer’s sermon centered on in the opening worship service at LEAD 2013 on Saturday, March 2, at the First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, Illinois. When. Not if, when. Four hundred people gathered together, preparing to head off to 16 different morning workshops and 15 different afternoon workshops ranging in topic from clerk of session training to issues of intercultural skills, the new hymnal, intentional worship and ministry with “MIA” youth. Before we separated to search out our workshop rooms, the group of us: older and younger, lay leaders and ordained leaders, urban, suburban and rural dwellers gathered for worship. And Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer talked to us about this word: when.

So, what was it about this when that got us ready to engage and learn and struggle with the diversity of topics presented at LEAD? It was this: the beatitudes are not based on “if’s,” according to Rev. Aymer. They are based on “when’s”. We, the people of God, are on a path of discipleship that will lead us through being reviled, slandered and persecuted and that same path will lead us through receiving mercy, being comforted and seeing God. And here’s where this sermon ended up, Rev. Aymer encouraged us towards “a call to fearless Christianity” because even though these when’s are coming, on our journey we know that God is with us.

After this inspiring sermon, we continued to watch artist Rev. Shawna Bowman create a Visual Proclamation. We sang with Dr. Patrick Evans and Rev. Michael Kirby and we prayed together. Then, we traveled out into the beautiful educational space of First Presbyterian Church, graciously guided by church volunteers and the local boy scouts of troop 23 to our various rooms for our various workshops.

Long after the event was over small groups remained all throughout the church, laughing and thinking and sharing about the workshops they had taken. People were excitedly discussing statistics they had learned in Rev. Dr. Daniels’s workshop on global Presbyterianism. One individual thoughtfully shared a quote from the deacon training that described the job of a deacon being “that of a sieve and not a vessel.” A woman excitedly expressed the creativity being nurtured in Rev. Lib Caldwell’s workshop on reading the bible with children.

This was a group of people committed to working together to find our way through the when’s of the beatitudes. LEAD 2013 was an event filled with looking forward: creating art in worship, singing from the new hymnal, leading congregations in change. Discussion, community and hope abounded at the LEAD 2013 event. And I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to next year!

LEAD (Leadership, Education and Development for the Whole Church) is an annual event that offers a full day of practical training for Chicago area Presbyterians and others. LEAD is made possible by a covenant partnership between Chicago Presbytery’s Empower Ministry Mission Priority Leadership Team, McCormick Theological Seminary and a host church. The LEAD Mission Team begins planning the event each summer. To learn more about LEAD and how you can be a part of LEAD 2014, contact the Rev. Grayson Van Camp, moderator, at vancamps@earthlink.net.

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