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Montreat Conference Center summer worship series begins June 5

Ted Smith is the first of many well-known preachers and theologians in series

from Lauren Mathews | Montreat Conference Center

Ted Smith. Photo provided

Ted Smith. Photo provided

MONTREAT, N.C. – Each summer the hills surrounding the Montreat Conference Center come alive with the sound of organ music, congregations singing, and the Good News shared by special guest preachers Sunday mornings. This summer’s series runs from June 5 through August 7 in Montreat Conference Center’s Anderson Auditorium

One of the highlights of Montreat Conference Center’s year-round programs is the summer worship series where leading theologians and preachers from across the country join with visual and performing art professionals and volunteers in a service of worship open to the surrounding community. All are welcome and all are invited.

Leading off the series as guest preacher on Sunday morning June 5 is the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, associate professor of preaching and ethics at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia.

Smith grew up in Springfield, Missouri and was nurtured by two local congregations: “First and Calvary Presbyterian Churches gave me a strong sense that I needed to work to make a difference in the world. I went to college not sure if I’d try to make that difference in some kind of politics or in the church. A summer as a ministry intern followed by a summer in the State Department made that choice pretty clear. These key summers left me convinced that I had been operating with too shallow a sense of what it meant to make a difference. And I graduated with a conviction that I could be both more faithful and more effective in ministry.”

As associate professor of preaching and ethics, Smith teaches MDiv, DMin, and PhD candidates, along with a fair mix of students in Emory’s law school and other doctoral disciplines. “Emory is great like that,” he notes. “Interdisciplinary work is prized, and religion is prominent in the mix. I like that my work lets me integrate many different parts of my own vocation as preacher, scholar, teacher, activist, worshiper, and more… And I love those moments in reading and writing when a little flash of insight suddenly pulls a motley bunch of texts, thoughts, questions, prayers, and convictions into new clarity. It is a kind of prayer.”

Smith will preach on Isaiah 58:1-14. In explaining his sermon title, “Like a Watered Garden,” he says, “Faithfulness is not about fasting for the sake of personal piety, but about loosing the bonds of injustice, breaking the yoke, and feeding the hungry… I don’t mean to repudiate it in any simple way. I wanted to come back to this passage, and to this part of Isaiah, to wrestle with these questions. In particular, I want to try to think about a prophetic faith that does not lose sight of ethics even as it locates ethics in a larger drama of redemption.”

Eric Wall, assistant professor of sacred music and dean of the chapel at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, is the conference center’s resident musician for the summer, and his ability to draw congregations together through a variety of anthems and hymns is one of the hallmarks of the summer’s worship series. The Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones and liturgical artist Hannah Garrity work week by week to design and implement a visual narrative particular to each Sunday’s biblical text.

In underscoring the importance of the summer worship series and anticipating its role in the Montreat experience, the Rev. Carol Steele, vice president for program at the conference center has this to say:

“Worship, like all of life, is our offering to God: the offering of our praise, prayer, gifts, and time. In the community of worship, we celebrate the abundance of ages, diversity, and creativity that are God’s gifts to us. Our prayer is that we worship gratefully and faithfully, so that gratitude and faithfulness permeate all of life.”

All of the summer Sunday services in the series are at 10:30 am in Anderson Auditorium, just off Assembly Drive in Montreat. Childcare 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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