For the members of Knox Presbyterian Church in Vernon, having a visit from the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
For the Rev. Dr. Teresa Charlton, there is also a more personal significance, as the Rev. Dr. Stephen Farris is a former professor of hers at Knox College at the University of Toronto.
“It’s been 40 years since a moderator has been in Vernon,” said Charlton, minister at Knox since 2012. “This is quite an honour and quite unexpected — to sit and have a cup of coffee and have the chance to discuss things of concern, it’s not the kind of things you say no to.”
Farris was ordained by the Presbytery of Kingston, Ont. in 1981 and is now professor of homiletics at the Vancouver School of Theology.
He will be in the North Okanagan and Shuswap this week, making stops in Kamloops, Salmon Arm and Vernon.
“Each church will have a public event and a church event,” said Charlton, who has also been charged with organizing a clergy retreat Thursday to Saturday in Kamloops.
“It just happened to coincide with the timing of the moderator’s visit and as our retreat winds up, educational worship will take place, because you don’t always get the moderator face to face, so we’ll have an opportunity listen to Dr. Farris and his thoughts on leadership for the church in the coming generation.”
Back in Vernon, Farris will be welcomed Saturday to a meet-and-greet at Knox, where the narthex is being transformed into an Italian bistro, where parishioners can chat with their guest of honour while enjoying specialty coffees and goodies.
“I figured that since the moderator is probably forced to drink ‘dishwater’ coffee wherever he goes, that we should offer something a little different.”
On Saturday night, Farris will be keynote speaker at a dinner in Salmon Arm. And on Sunday he’ll return to Vernon for a combined worship service at Knox.
“Salmon Arm and Armstrong are closing their doors for one Sunday and bringing their people here and we’ll bring together the musical talents of the three congregations.”
Following the service at 10 a.m., a brunch will follow, and Farris will be presented with gifts, which Charlton said make use of the special skills and talents of the congregants at Knox.
“It’s a great way to get the congregants involved. I know the moderator gets so much of the same thing week after week touring the country, and we wanted to do something different.”
Farris’ tour will wrap up on Monday with a good-bye brunch in Salmon Arm.