Two events this month have reminded me of how fortunate the Council is to have congregations willing to host our events. The first was the Faith and Immigration Summit, held on a Saturday at Durham’s First Presbyterian Church. The church was easy to find, with plenty of free parking just outside. The sanctuary is beautiful and, in spite of how large the church facilities are, all of our program was held in the sanctuary and just a few steps away. Marilyn Hedgpeth, an associate pastor and the interim head of staff following the retirement of long-time pastor Joe Harvard, hosted us and didn’t even seem to mind that we were occupying her Saturday. She commented that the church really likes to host events like this one.
Then this week we had our biennial Legislative Seminar at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary. It also has beautiful facilities (the sanctuary is pictured on our blog page and in the slideshow), though totally different in style from First Presbyterian, and there was plenty of parking there too. Again, the church staff went out of its way to make us feel welcome. Karen Burden (Church Office Administrator) and Randy Palmer (Custodian) were there on Monday afternoon, and they would hardly let us help with setting up tables and chairs. When we got there on Tuesday, there were flowers on all the tables for lunch. They re-set one of our meeting rooms during the day to create a welcoming space for our Board to meet at the end of the Seminar.
We had also invited host pastor Ben Boswell to lead the concluding service at the end of the Seminar, and he did a splendid job. He listened to David Forbes’ sermon in the morning and crafted closing words that were the perfect book-end to the day (and he did that crafting during the time between the morning service and the closing). He enlisted Steve Stacks, the church’s minister of music and they brought in Mike Harris, organist at Christ the King Lutheran. Ben also composed prayers of the people which brought together all of the issues the Seminar had addressed. Click here to read them. It was the perfect end to a really powerful day. Ben said to me afterwards that they hadn’t hosted such an event in his time there. They should; they are really good at it.
So, to return to where I started – any of you who plan meetings know how important the venue is, both in terms of the space being comfortable and inviting and in terms of how easy it is to work with people there. The Council is fortunate to have these two congregations, and many others who host events large and small for us each year, that are such great venues for us. They make an important contribution to what the Council is doing.