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A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the life of James Alexander “Jim” Bryan, II

Dear God, we are grateful that we have the desire this evening to come to you with thanksgiving for the life of James Alexander “Jim” Bryan, II. What an appropriate place – Montreat – to lift up our hearts in celebration for the life of this dear friend and family member. Oh God, even here, in this quiet place of rest and reflection, we have neither the sufficient time nor the words to do justice to our man, Jim. We thank you for the family that raised him and surrounded him – his parents, Harry and Peggy, his brother, Ned, …

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Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Cannon: August 8, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 8/8/2021 was Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Cannon. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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“A Life-changing Week in Montreat”

That was the title of the article that Dolly Jacobs, associate pastor for pastoral care of the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, posted before her departure to Montreat in late July. The church’s youth group was planning to spend the week here, and Dolly wanted everyone in the congregation to know how important that week could be. She wrote: “The theme for that 1986 Montreat Youth Conference was ‘Branded.’ The adult leaders guided us through what it meant to be ‘branded’ by society: athletes, intellectuals, introverts, extroverts, popular kids, etc. As the week unfolded though, those labels were …

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Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli: August 1, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 8/1/2021 was Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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On the Importance of Prudence and Caution

We have enjoyed a remarkably good and healthy run this summer at Montreat Conference Center. On Tuesday, however, one of our participants at youth conference began experiencing symptoms, was immediately isolated, and later tested positive for COVID-19. Yesterday, a second positive was discovered in a different group, and again, appropriate precautions were taken. This morning, we received the news that four more youth from that same group had tested positive. This particular group has left Montreat and is returning home today. For the remainder of this week’s conference schedule, activities have been adjusted to reflect even greater caution. One of …

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Dr. William G. Jones: July 25, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 7/25/2021 was Dr. William G. Jones. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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A Purpose That Grows as Generosity Flows

This week’s message is longer than usual, a message adapted from the address given to Montreat Patrons at last week’s reception. I always have a glad and grateful heart when I attend the annual Patrons Reception to honor the donors and leaders who make Montreat’s mission and ministry possible, and when we gathered this past Saturday night, I think my heart set a new record for gladness and gratefulness. As I told those assembled, “Thank God we are here, thank God we are together!” This gathering was an important opportunity to say thank you to the people who have made …

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Dr. Howard Edington: July 18, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 7/18/2021 was Dr. Howard Edington. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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With Gratitude

Gratitude is the word of the upcoming weekend. On Saturday evening, the conference center will host the annual Patrons Banquet to honor and express appreciation to those donors who generously supported our programs and operations over the previous fiscal year. This year’s casual evening will include food trucks, supper under a tent, and Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters, Asheville-based musicians now drawing national attention. Any review of the previous year must include praise of decisions made by our Board of Directors just as the pandemic was dawning. As stated several times in this space and elsewhere, at the spring …

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Rev. Christopher A. Henry: July 11, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 7/11/2021 was Rev. Christopher A. Henry. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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The Future of the Huck

I don’t have a lot of childhood memories of The Huckleberry, Montreat’s snack bar at Moore Center right on Lake Susan. I do remember being in there once as a teenager with some friends, awaiting milkshakes on order, and the poor server being so distracted by all the chatter that the machine sprayed ice cream all over him and his work station. We feasted on the story far longer than we did the ice cream. Otherwise, I really hadn’t given The Huck much thought in recent years, and yet the pandemic has prompted a new focus on community spaces on …

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Rev. CeCe Armstrong: July 4, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 7/4/2021 was Rev. CeCe Armstrong. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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On Calling and Remembrance (Guest Starring The Toe River Valley Boys)

A few days ago, while sifting through a box of Montreat keepsakes, I came across an LP recording that I recognized instantly: “Square Dancing In The Blue Ridge Mountains” by the Toe River Valley Boys. The album, I believe, deserved its keepsake status because its bluegrass music had accompanied the square dances that my home church once hosted for local youth on Friday nights during my early teen years. My father, our church’s minister, organized these dances and invited the youth groups of other congregations to join us (the dancing congregations, at least). On those Friday nights, our fellowship hall …

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Rev. Dr. Jessica R. Patchett: June 27, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 6/27/2021 was Rev. Dr. Jessica R. Patchett. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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Welcome Back, Presbyterian Friends in Ministry!

With the summer conference season of 2021 about to conclude its third week, we have welcomed back this week a long-standing and valued conference partner. We began the season as we typically do, with two weeks of youth conferences, and are following with two weeks of Worship and Music conferences, planned and executed by the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, simply and widely known by their acronym, PAM. Founded in 1970, PAM is a national organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for people who are involved in the areas of worship, music, and the arts. Its influence has been felt in …

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Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III: June 20, 2021

The guest preacher for Montreat Conference Center’s Summer Worship Series on 6/20/2021 was Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III. You can view a portion of the video recorded worship service! Click here to view the archive of sermons.

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Old Roads Made New Again

To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this year, Jeannie and I decided that we will take a vacation bicycle trip toward the end of November. In an effort to prepare, I’ve taken to the streets over the past few months on the fine machine that once belonged to my father-in-law; the bike remains in great shape thanks to the maintenance expertise of the good folks at Epic Cycles in Black Mountain. I remember my first bicycle, a bright red little Western Flyer-style with conventional seat, handlebars, and bell. I remember my maiden voyage without training wheels courtesy of my father’s …