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Idlewild Sermons | Steve Montgomery

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Front Cover.JPG

Idlewild Sermons | Steve Montgomery

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Serving as the pastor of the Idlewild Presbyterian Church was not in my game plan. After graduating from the Yale Divinity School, I spent four years serving a small church in the coal fields of Appalachia in Eastern Kentucky; then ten years in a transitional urban residential neighborhood outside of Atlanta, Georgia, followed by six years in another Atlanta area church.  I saw myself as anything but a “big steeple” preacher, but rather a servant leader devoting my ministry to those on the margins of society.

 But God had other plans, so when I accepted a call to be the pastor of Idlewild, there was a fair amount of awe, wonder, humility and gratitude, but underlying it all was fear.  Idlewild has been, for over a century, one of the leading lights in what was the Southern Presbyterian Church, now the Presbyterian Church (USA), known both for its commitment to social justice and urban ministry as well as its awe-inspiring neo-gothic cathedral. I was standing on the shoulders of preachers who articulated powerfully the call to discipleship in the context of their day.  How could I possibly measure up?

 Though unprepared in many ways, I was grateful for several experiences I had that helped shape my preaching through the years.  When Vatican II re-shaped the nature of worship in the Catholic church in the early 1960’s, the winds of change blew toward us Protestants, as we began to realize that in many cases we had thrown the baby out with the bathwater.  As a result, even “decently and in order” Presbyterians began to experience liturgical renewal.   By the time I entered seminary in the 1970’s, the Psalter was being used, the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving was incorporated into the Lord’s Supper, and most significantly for us preachers, many adopted the lectionary to guide our preaching and worship planning.


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