Pulpit Swap Sunday in Clarke
Posted: January 25, 2013
The Winchester Star
Berryville — A group of Clarke County pastors will play a game of musical pulpits Sunday morning.
Nine pastors in the Clarke County Ministerial Association will participate in the annual Pulpit Swap. They will deliver sermons at another church whose pastor is a member of the group, said the Rev. Jonathan Bunker, pastor of Berryville Presbyterian Church.
The association has held the event for more than a decade as a way to recognize and draw together different denominations, he said.
“We believe that though we come from different denominations and have different theological ideas, we all worship one Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, who has called us to witness,” said Bunker of Berryville.
The swap usually falls on the last Sunday in January at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held this year from Jan. 18 to 25, he said.
A community potluck luncheon will follow the different services. It will be held at 12:40 p.m. in the social hall at John H. Enders Fire and Rescue Company, 9 S. Buckmarsh St., Berryville.
The pastors rotate each year so that they and the congregations continue to have new and different experiences, said the Rev. Hyo Lee, pastor of Crums United Methodist Church in Berryville.
Lee recalled his first swap, when he went to St. Luke Baptist Church. A usual service at his church is about an hour, but at St. Luke, he didn’t experience that “sense of rush.”
“It was relaxed and more free,” he said. “It was a great experience, and the singing was wonderful.”
This year, Lee will preach at both Grace and St. Mary’s Episcopal churches.
The exchange of experience goes both ways in the swap, said the Rev. Karin MacPhail, priest-in-charge at Christ Church in Millwood. The congregations get to experience what is usually a different style of preaching.
“I preach in my own voice whenever I am going to preach,” said MacPhail, who will preach at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church.
At the same time, a lay person is appointed at each church to lead the order of service as it would normally go, except for the sermon, she said. This gives the visiting pastors an opportunity to experience traditions very different from their normal routines.
The responses have been positive each year, Bunker said. In the 12 years he has been at his church, he has preached at all of the churches in the association.
In fact, the year he started preaching at Berryville Presbyterian, the swap was held a week later. From the first, he has had the opportunity to know the wider Christian community in town.
“I have found it inspirational and rejuvenating in a sense that there is life in the broader church,” said Bunker, who will preach at St. Luke.
Beyond the personal growth the pastors and congregations get out of the swap, that overarching message of unity is why Lee said he likes doing the swap.
“The reason I do this is to celebrate we are brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said. “That is the most important thing.”
That theme continues when church members gather at the potluck luncheon, MacPhail said. Last year was her first time taking part in the swap, and the open and welcoming atmosphere at the luncheon afterward was striking.
“It was a lovely experience for everybody to break bread together,” she said.
Coming together despite different backgrounds and theologies is the purpose of the ministerial association, Bunker said. It gives the pastors others “to pray with, to laugh with, to tell our war stories.”
It is good to be with people from other denominations in an atmosphere where learning about each other’s differences is a good thing, said the Rev. Dan Stanley, pastor of Berryville Baptist Church. He will preach Sunday at Christ Church.
“We do have a sense of trying to work together amidst our diversity,” he said.
The other pastors participating in the swap are the Rev. Tony White, pastor of St. Luke, who will be at Berryville Presbyterian; the Rev. Dwight Brown, rector of Grace and St. Mary’s, who will be at Berryville Baptist; the Rev. Delbert Hicks, pastor of Zion Baptist Church, who will be at the Church of New Beginnings; the Rev. Bill Dawson, pastor of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, who will be at Zion Baptist, and the Rev. Larry Santmyer, pastor of the Church of New Beginnings, who will be at Crums UMC.
Following the Pulpit Swap at Clarke County churches, a community potluck luncheon will be held at 12:40 p.m. Sunday in the social hall at John H. Enders Fire and Rescue Company, 9 S. Buckmarsh St., Berryville.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org