A few months ago, the evening news was playing in the background as our family was getting organized for supper. I overheard the anchor ask, “Who is the most powerful preacher in Charlotte? Is it . . . ?” and he named four relatively prominent clergy. “Call in and vote! Or e-mail us! And we’ll tell you tomorrow night who really is the most powerful preacher!” After we stopped laughing, I thought, “How southern. I bet this doesn’t go on in Vermont or Europe.” The next night, falling for the gambit, I tuned in and saw the friend who had “won.” He was reflecting on what it’s like to be so powerful.
James C. Howell is senior minister of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and author of What Does the Lord Require? Doing Justice, Loving Kindness, Walking Humbly (Westminster John Knox).