13 October 2010


This past Sunday the church welcomed Rev. Dr. Charles "Chuck" Bugg as the Lee Preaching Series preacher. Dr. Bugg did a fantastic job, usually when I listen to colleagues I am thinking things like "I hope when I cross my legs my socks are long enough to cover the gap in my pants so no skin shows" or "please tell me I zipped up my pants" or "who turned up the a/c" or "why does so and so already napping" or "the church really should get a different colored carpet." But while Dr. Bugg preached I didn't notice my goofy grin, the tears that quietly fell from my eyes, or how loud I cackled. Yeah, he is that good.

Sad to say I never took a preaching class from him while I was a student at BTSR. We both arrived the same year, 1996. He felt some kind of bond with my class, he even attended our flag football games and rooted us on. One afternoon before a game Dr. Bugg was passing ball with one of us when all of a sudden Daniel Willis took off running and yelled, "hit me Bugg." We all fell over laughing and Daniel turned several shades of red when he realized what he said. That was a good day.

I recall my classmates on the days they had to preach in class - all dressed up and cotton mouthed. I scoffed at them for their pompousness. Outside I wanted nothing to do with preaching; inside I wanted nothing more. For me, the label of "preacher" was an insult, someone who couldn't make the grade in class, a second tier dude or dudette. After my second year I transferred to Colgate Rochester Divinity School to pursue studies in Yankeedom. It was the best decision for me and for Lori. I loved the liberation of the north. I soaked every inch of the culture up. But then came my senior year of study. What was I going to do? Apply to PhD programs or (gulp) preach? Slowly my hesitancy towards pastoral ministry melted, primarily thanks to Peter Carman (longer tribute here). If so, then I better sign up for a preaching class. I waited till my last semester and signed up for the only class available, with special permission I was admitted into Advanced Feminist Preaching (yes, I was able to skip right past the intro class). It was a fantastic class but I was in over my head. My classmates were better preachers and knew what they were doing when they got into the pulpit - that phrase "into the pulpit" has always bothered me but folk roll with it.

For two years at Athens Baptist I butchered my way through the lectionary; they were gracious people! At Lime Rock I started to find my voice as a preacher. Thanks to two people: Peter Gomes at Harvard Memorial Church and through the writing of Dr. Bugg - I read all of their books, imitated, and improvised.

When the moment appeared for me to pick my first preacher for the series Dr. Bugg was my first and only choice. He, graciously, agreed.

I am just through the first quarter of preaching (10 years, roughly 400+ sermons) with lots of room for growth and expansion. But I cannot get over how enjoyable it is to write and preach sermons. When people ask what I do I proudly say I am a preacher.

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