I'm back from traveling all over the Carolinas and thoroughly enjoyed my time away. Though it was a working vacation of sorts, we had such a good time being in the mountains (and escaping the hot and power-less St. Louis region). We thought that we had missed the worst of St. Louis summer, although today the high is supposed to be 102. In case you are wondering, that's hot.
On our way down to NC, we spent the first weekend in Nashville, which is about half way. On Saturday, we went to the Hermitage, the ancestral home of Andrew Jackson, our seventh president and good (well, I'm not sure how good he really was) Presbyterian. The best part was seeing the old Hermitage Presbyterian Church, which no longer hosts the active congregation (their new building sits across the field from the old one). But the church building was restored after a fire in the 1960s and is a wonderful example of early 19th century Presbyterian architecture--very simple, white-washed church building with pulpit and box-pews.
We spent our first week in Black Mountain, NC, nearly a stone's throw away from Montreat, the historic assembly grounds for the old southern Presbyterian church. We love to run over to Montreat, use their large playground, and walk up the creek that runs through the property. It was interesting going back into the bookstore there--though they carry a wide (and unusual) assortment of books, I was struck by all the ecumencial worship resources they had. It signaled to me a church that has lost any sense of what it means to be Presbyterian by looking to Roman Catholic and Celtic worship traditions, rather than the Presbyterian past.
The other big thing I did that first week (aside from going to waterfalls, Biltmore, and Mast General Store) was to drive down to Atlanta to do a day of training for RUF Campus Ministers. I count myself as one of RUF's biggest fans, firmly believing in their mission of caring for covenant children and reaching out to non-believing college studies on America's college campuses. I think their work is vital for the future health of the PCA and for church planting throughout our country. Our future ruling elders and pastors, godly men and women, are coming out of RUF. And so, it was a great joy to be with them, teaching them material on Presbyterian polity that draws from my recent book.