One of the highlights of Montreat Conference Center’s year-round programs is the summer worship series in which leading preachers from across the country join with visual and performing art professionals and volunteers in a service of worship open to the surrounding community. All are welcome and all are invited.
On Sunday, July 15, the Montreat Conference Center welcomes the Rev. Meg Peery McLaughlin to the Anderson Auditorium pulpit as part of the Summer Sunday Worship Series. She received her BA in English literature from UNC Chapel Hill and earned her MDiv-MACE from Union Presbyterian Seminary. She served seven years as associate pastor at Village Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, and for the past five years has co-pastored with her husband, Rev. Jarret McLaughlin, at Burke Presbyterian Church outside Washington, DC.
In planning her sermon for July 15, McLaughlin says she has been thinking about and studying the idea of reformation: “Our tradition has the privilege of being able to say that we are saved by grace alone…that our good works are not, in fact, the ‘hinges to the doors of heaven,’ but that they are our response to the good news of God in Jesus Christ. We get to speak gratitude, not guilt.
“…but what about the lingering theology of today that needs a reforming word? That’s what I want to preach. I’ve always kind of wanted to do a series on ‘The God I Don’t Believe In Either’, but that felt so negative. I wanted to offer something to hold on to, not toss.”
In thinking about all this, she uses as illustration a scene from the award-winning TV series Orange is the New Black. The main character, Piper, is invited to be baptized by a fellow prisoner, but at the last minute, Piper balks:
“I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t,” she says, as she begins to back away.
Her would-be pastor says, “We’ve all had our doubts.”
“No,” says Piper. “…I cannot get behind some supreme being who weighs in on the Tony Awards while a million people get whacked with machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don’t think we get cancer to learn life lessons, and I don’t believe that people die young because God needs another angel… Look I understand that religion makes it easier to deal with all of the random (bad) things that happen to us. And I wish I could get on that ride; I’m sure I would be happier. But I can’t. Feelings aren’t enough. I need it to be real.”
And so Rev. Peery McLaughlin settles on that question for leading worship this summer in Montreat: “What real promises do we cling to? For me, it is dependence, spirit, mystery, story, work, and care.”
All of the summer Sunday services in the series are at 10:30 am in Anderson Auditorium, just off Assembly Drive in Montreat. Child care is available for children six months through kindergarten at the Updike Child Care Center on Texas Road.
For further information or to learn about other worship, educational, and recreational opportunities at Montreat, visit www.montreat.org, or call 828.669.2911.