Montreat Conference Center continues its 2013 Summer Services for the Lord’s Day by welcoming the Rev. Fairfax F. Fair as guest preacher on June 23 at 10:30 a.m. in Anderson Auditorium.
Fair is pastor/head of staff at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Mich. Her sermon title, “God Gone to Meddlin’” is based on lectionary passages from I Kings 19 and Luke 8, which include stories of the Old Testament prophet Elijah and the healings of Jesus in the Gospel writings.
As the pastor of a large church adjacent to the University of Michigan’s main campus, Fair considers it her responsibility and privilege to minister not only to her congregation, but to the university’s diverse student body of 40,000.
“Many of these young students have no faith background,” she explains. “Others have been hurt by the church or have grown disaffected by what they see as the institutional church’s hypocrisy and/or irrelevance.”
Under her leadership and additional on-staff clergy, First Church has an intentional outreach to the campus. “Rather than being viewed as a non-entity, it is important that the church and the message we proclaim be seen as valuable and instructive,” Fair says. “These students are very bright and engaged in the world around them.”
Growing up in south Arkansas, Fair had no role models of female pastors, though she says she can, in retrospect, “recall urgings of the Spirit calling me into the ministry when I was a teenager.”
Later, when her young husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, “I knew that it was not medical school that God had in mind for me ― but the seminary.”
Her first visit to Montreat was after she joined First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, Texas, and the Rev. Jim Collie, one of the associate pastors, arranged for her to attend the Annual Recreation Workshop, and, as she describes it, “go to that special place I’d heard about all my life.”
The Summer Services for the Lord’s Day in Anderson Auditorium are an important part of the mission of Montreat Conference Center. A team of church professionals and lay volunteers work to enable the gathered community to experience God’s presence and urgings not only through the preaching of the Word, but through music, liturgy, and the visual arts. Eric Wall, conference center musician, and the Rev. Ann Laird Jones, along with their volunteers and summer interns, coordinate special music and creative art to enlarge the understanding of the text, while Mel Bringle, summer liturgy writer, brings to the service confessions, prayers, and scripture of special significance to the day’s theme.