Montreat Conference Center

Paul Roberts Preaches on July 9

posted on Jul. 2, 2017

Montreat Conference CenterThe sign of the cross, the iconic symbol for Christianity, points in two directions: up towards God and out across the world representing a basic theme in the Biblical story. This is the subject of the sermon the Rev. Paul Roberts, president of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta will preach at 10:30 am on July 9 in Montreat’s Anderson Auditorium.

“I plan to focus on relationships,” Rev. Roberts explains. “The God-to-humankind relationship and the humankind-to-humankind relationship.”

Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary is one of ten theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the only one that is historically African American. Rev. Roberts grew up in Bradenton, FL, which he considers home. Roberts is a 1985 graduate of Princeton University with a BA in architecture and African American Studies, and prior to his career in ministry, he spent eight years in advertising in New York City.

After deciding to change careers, he earned his MDiv degree with a concentration in New Testament studies from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Rev. Roberts is also an Academic Fellow of The Ecumenical Institute at Bossey in Celigny, Switzerland.

As part of Rev. Roberts’ visit, and in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, on Saturday July 8, several events are open to the public underscore this happy occasion. At 7:00 pm, in Upper Anderson, Rev. Roberts will give an introduction to the seminary, with a period for Q&A. At 7:30 pm there will be a song festival, featuring a celebration choir, visual art, and congregational singing of hymns that speak to the relationship between worship, justice, and service.

Festival leaders include Dr. Tony McNeill, director of worship and the arts at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and Eric Wall, assistant professor and dean of the chapel at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas, and director of music for Montreat Conference Center’s summer worship series.

On Sundays during the month of July, as part of the worship series, the Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity is leading a Visio Divina class July 9, 16, and 23 from 9:00-10:00 am in the Walkup Building.

“Come prepare your hearts and minds for worship through Visio Divina meditation and bible study,” says Rev. Garrity.

Latin for “divine seeing,” Visio Divina extends the 6th century Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina by using visual imagery for meditation, reflection, and prayer:

“Participants will use visual art to delve deeper into the scripture texts for Sunday worship. Illuminations from the St. John’s Bible will be incorporated when applicable. Sessions will blend individual meditation with group study and discussion.”

As an artist, pastor, and retreat leader, Rev. Garrity works with communities of all kinds across the nation, using art as a means for deeper connection to faith and community. She is the founder and creative director of A Sanctified Art, a collaborative arts ministry providing multimedia resources for churches.

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.

As is the summer tradition, the community is invited to the lunch buffet at 11:45 am in the Assembly Inn’s Galax Dining Room following worship. Lunch tickets can be purchased at the Assembly Inn front desk.

For further information or to learn about other worship, educational, and recreational opportunities at Montreat, visit, or call 828.669.2911.

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