I was honored to worship with the congregation of the Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church on May 16 while Rev. John Hartman led worship with my congregation at the Elkins Park Presbyterian Church as we engaged in a pulpit swap. I had worshipped with Chestnut Level before, but from the pews not the pulpit. My family and I love to camp in our RV at several of the campgrounds in the Quarryville Pennsylvania area and since we are churchgoers, we searched for a local congregation to occasionally worship with when in the area. We ended up at Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church almost 3 years ago on one Sunday in the summertime. We enjoyed the worship service, felt very welcomed, and left knowing we could come back whenever we were in the area.
Then, as God would have it, I was on a Zoom call – something we have become very familiar with over the past year and half – and a familiar face popped on the screen. It was Rev. John Hartman. I was surprised and grateful to see a familiar face among many new faces on a call with The Fellowship Community. John and I reconnected and even met for coffee a few months ago as we began a collegial friendship. My family continues to worship with Chestnut Level PC a handful of times a year. My husband and daughter worshipped with CLPC this past Easter Sunday while they were on Spring Break and I was home with our congregation. John graciously offered up the idea of a pulpit swap so that he, for the first time, could meet my church family.
As Presbyterian clergy, John and I both took ordination vows, as all pastors and elders do, which call us to be a friend in ministry among our colleagues. John and I have fulfilled that vow in our friendship and many of the other friendships we have with clergy near and far over our careers. We were both so blessed for this opportunity to get to know the congregations we serve and through that encounter get to know one another even better. We hope to engage in this pulpit swap ministry opportunity maybe once every year or two moving forward, too!
Rev. Cynthia Betz-Bogoly is the pastor of Elkins Park Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania.