Carol and I landed in Chicago on Thursday evening (in a sprinkling of snow) for another milestone in my preaching project....and today we held our second Facilitators' Session. Walking across the campus where we are staying brought back such vivid memories. One staff member said: 'It's like you have never been away!' Well, it feels that I have been - yet engaging with former students today has been wonderfully positive, taking me straight back into my love of teaching.
Two Northern graduates were present who have been in ministry for nine and eight years (now that shows how time has passed!) and their reminiscences about my preaching classes still seemed fresh. One of them even brought a presentation pack of eight Penguin biscuits. Last October at the Preaching Forum he surprised me with a similar gift in memory of the final celebrations when each class shared English goodies, imported by Carol. He said, 'My wife told me I didn't need to do this a second time but I just had to mark the happy memory again.'
But what about the serious stuff of strengthening preaching? Our main aim today was to prepare enough facilitators to seed three new groups of pastors in different locations to work through the 'New Kind of Preacher' project. And, hallelujah, it looks as though that will be happening with strong leadership! As we worked through parts of the resource modules (only half written so far) there was an enthusiastic response. When I returned to our rooms Carol said she knew instantly how encouraged I was by the smile on my face!
So thank you to all who have been upholding this project in prayer. It's still a long road ahead but today finds me rejoicing.