For the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, a typical Sunday will involve a morning worship service, one to two hours in the car, a quick stop at a drive-thru, an afternoon meeting or church gathering and a possible preaching engagement for an evening service. But in this case, she’s not operating as the Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly. This is the regular job that has her running for 12 hours on this particular day.
Kohlmann serves as the resource presbyter for the Presbyteries of Boston and northern New England. On this first Sunday in the new year, Epiphany Sunday, she has a full agenda, beginning with a sermon at Roxbury Presbyterian Church in Boston. Preaching from Isaiah and Matthew, Kohlmann talked about the significance of the Magi and their long journey to the Christ child.
“When was the last time you had that sense of joy and it took you two years to get there?” she asked. “I don’t have that kind of patience, but the Wise Men stayed the course for however long it took, crossing countries, mountain ranges and oceans to see Jesus.”
Kohlmann described the Magi’s journey as hard, filled with ups and downs, and imagined a group that became discouraged at times along the way.
“This is what it means to follow Christ. We experience love and grace, but the path is not simple. The path is full of people and circumstances that we have to navigate, including work, school, our friends and families,” she said. “Like the Wise Men, we encounter King Herods in our own lives, telling us we are traveling the wrong path, questioning the way we live and why we worship.”
Kohlmann closed her sermon at Roxbury by telling the congregation that people are always looking for the fast and easy way to navigate life.
“That’s not what we are promised. Jesus Christ came to give us abundant life. He didn’t say it would be easy. There are valleys to go through, mountains to climb and oceans to cross,” she said. “As you begin the new year, lift your eyes up and see the guiding light of our Savior. Be people searching and acting in love, grace, peace, joy and justice.”
By mid-afternoon, Kohlmann was an hour up the road, offering the opening prayer at the installation of the Rev. Dr. John H. Seiders as pastor of Windham Presbyterian Church of Windham, New Hampshire. After a time of fellowship, she was back in her car, headed toward Natick, Massachusetts, to preach for a Brazilian new worshiping community at Hartford Street Presbyterian Church.
“It’s a lot of work, but it helps to put a face with the presbytery. By being present and approachable, hopefully it can make a difference in a positive way for the church,” said Kohlmann. “I’m trying to do the same thing as I visit churches across the country as Co-Moderator.”
Kohlmann says she encourages presbytery leaders across the country to be strategic when scheduling visits for her.
“If a church is on the fringes or is marginalized and they want to give them focus, use me for that,” she said. “I want them to think about the churches that are feeling distant or need extra encouragement, and prioritize those visits.”
With one day off, Kohlmann will join her Co-Moderator, Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) offices in Louisville the rest of the week to plan additional visits and meet with church leaders.