Pulpit Swap and April Conference Enrich Spiritual Formation in Huntsville
A historic event is taking place in Huntsville, Texas, as five churches are coming together to bring the Renovare Essentials Conference to town on April 13. Five area pastors, including Scott Dornbush at First UMC, Huntsville and Cheryl Smith at Wesley Memorial UMC, have been meeting together to pray and plan for several months.
Rev. Smith has truly enjoyed the journey so far. “The end goal will be to involve people throughout this region in Renovare spiritual formation groups” she says. Renovare invites people to participate in a balanced spiritual life drawing upon the traditions practiced by Jesus.”
The key traditions include:
· The word filled life (Evangelical Tradition)
· The compassionate life (Social Justice Tradition)
· The prayer filled life (Contemplative Tradition)
· The virtuous life (Holiness Tradition)
· The Spirit-filled life (Charismatic Tradition)
· The Sacramental life (Incarnational Tradition)
Taking Their Sermon "On the Road"
The recent ecumenical adventure involved a pulpit swap where each pastor shared one of the traditions in each of the five churches during Lent. “We have had a marvelously rich time doing this,“ adds Cheryl. “I cannot imagine that our community could ever be the same after these five churches have come together in such a significant way.” Scott Dornbush, Senior Pastor of First UMC, Huntsville adds, “I think the pulpit exchange has been great for both the pastors and the congregations. It has given us a greater appreciation of different Christian traditions and styles of worship and has created a greater sense of unity among Christians in Huntsville.”
Kyle Dennis, Senior Pastor at First Christian Church notes that, “It would be truly unusual for two churches to agree to exchange ministers and have the same worship focus for even one Sunday. But for five churches - of various denominations - to agree to participate in a seven week process - during Lent, no less - is nothing short of amazing!” Adds Kyle, “It was truly a bold step of trust to agree to participate in an experiment in Christian unity of this magnitude. And yet, I think the churches discovered what we hoped they would - that there is only one Spirit at work in each life, in each church, and in the life of each believer. Because we have kinship with Christ, we found kinship with each other. I feel very honored to have witnessed this important step forward in our spiritual community.”
Pastor Michael Huff of Huntsville Community Church, reports nothing but complimentary comments regarding the visiting pastors, the content of their sermons and the process of the pulpit exchange itself. “I believe I've gained more than any of the congregations I've visited. What a wonderful experience I've had getting to join each of these churches in worship---each with their own traditions, each with a heart for God,” he says. “I've grown in my appreciation for the breadth of God's kingdom and the warmth of his family. And, I've learned new ways to worship God, ways that are rich and meaningful. This has been a deeply enriching experience that I hope catches on in other churches and other communities. I believe it makes God smile!”
Time to Register for the Renovare Essentials Conference
“These initial sermons have hopefully intrigued many believers’ interest in going deeper in their personal faith journeys,” adds Cheryl, who extends the conference invitation to any and all. Information about the April 13 event is available through the website, www.huntsville-essentials.org. Registration can be completed on-line or by calling Rev. Cheryl Smith at 936-295-7459.