Some months ago the president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky asked me to deliver the commencement address at their graduation ceremonies on May 15, 2010.
I was pleased and honored; I worked very hard on the message, using material from two recently read books: “Quitting Church” and “The Life of Emily Dickinson”. I entitled the message, “Quitting Church, Preaching Christ,” and was fully prepared when, much to my disappointment, a medical condition (a long-standing susceptibility to nose bleed) took me to the emergency room the afternoon prior to the event.
From my hospital bed I called, first, my daughter and told her of the situation, then my sister, who is actually the coordinator of the seminary event. I said to both: “There are four options. I can plan to come as I am, hoping I will be OK. I can call upon somebody else to read my prepared text. The seminary president can find someone else to make a speech. The seminary can simply have the ceremony without a speaker.”
The seminary, one of our Founding Partners, by the way, opted to have my sermon delivered by someone else; and they requested my daughter, Kate Bringardner. Kate agreed. She is an outstanding public speaker, having been trained in theater and now working as a vocal dynamics coach for professionals. The address featured the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson, her favorite, and dealt with the trend of people quitting church, an issue in her own spiritual journey.
So that is what happened. I stayed at home. Kate arrived at the seminary and delivered my sermon, slightly amended to include her own witness. Here is a link to her web site with the full address.
Reports back to me about the event indicate that all went smoothly. The president was pleased; my sister wrote: “She did FANTASTIC!!!” and Kate was delighted to add “Seminary Commencement Speaker” to her resume. Read her blog on how she prepared, at www.katebringardner.com. I suspect it made for a rather unforgettable episode for all involved.
As for me: I was glad to have my words presented in such a compelling way and am even now looking to partner with Kate for public speaking opportunities!