Monday, October 15, 2012

A Conversation on Christian America in Strasburg, PA

The good folks at First Presbyterian Church of Strasburg, PA--especially pastor Bob Bronkema and his team of very committed laypersons-- know how to stage a conversation about Christian faith and public life.  As far as I am concerned, their "First Forum" lecture series should be a model for the way that churches can provide a safe and civil space for Christians to tackle some of the big issues facing our culture today.

Last night I had the honor and privilege of kicking off the first First Forum event with a lecture entitled "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?" I presented to close to 100 people from the church and community (it was good to see former students Liz McVey and Amanda Mylin in attendance).  The event, much to my surprise, was advertised throughout the Lancaster region as well as on a big marquee in the center of Strasburg.

The church hall was converted into a lecture room/coffee-house setting with images of my book, flyers about my work, beautiful table-dressings, information about First Forum, and Messiah College colors. I spoke for about 45 minutes and fielded questions for another 30 or so.  It was a very intelligent and thoughtful crowd. 

Following the event coffee and dessert was served, which allowed the attendees to chat informally about the lecture. I had some great conversations with folks from the church.

It was also good to catch up with my old friend Bob Bronkema.  I got to spend the day hanging out with Bob, his wife Stacy (who is also a Presbyterian minister and makes a great lasagna), and his daughters Rachel, Naomi, and Bethany (Bethany throws a mean football!).  Thanks for being great hosts and remember to keep those home fires burning (literally).

I hope more churches will think hard about creating spaces for these kind of events as part of their mission to the community.