(You can listen to the whole service from Reformation Sunday, October 27, by clicking above)
Celebrating Twenty Years! On Reformation Sunday, October 27, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Ken Kovacs’ ministry at Catonsville Presbyterian Church. There was a special worship service that included elements from Ken’s installation service, with guests and friends of Ken and this congregation, as well a baptism. We had a party in fellowship hall, followed by a luncheon at Matthew’s 1600.
Celebrating 20 Years
By Laurie White
In 1999, we didn’t have iPhones, facebook, or Ken Kovacs. It has been our privilege to have Ken at Catonsville Presbyterian for the past twenty years and we intend to celebrate the journey we have been on together. At his installation service, he was told to “preach and teach” and he has delivered on that charge. Catonsville Presbyterian has undergone an utter transformation literally and figuratively–and I would venture to say so has Ken. There are the standard accomplishments, such as receiving his doctorate, but his dissertation was published by Peter Lang Press as part of their Practical Theology Series. He has written countless articles and reviews for Presbyterian Outlook and Tidings, but his sermons and essays were published by Parson’s Porch.
There are multiple boards he’s served on over the years, such as the Covenant Network, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, the General Assembly’s Committee on Theological Education, the Presbytery’s Committee on Preparation for Ministry, Suburban Counseling Center, The Writer’s Guild and now preparing for the 224th General Assembly in Baltimore next year as the co-chair for worship. But those are things you’d kind of expect from a pastor who loves to serve the Church.
The Ken Kovacs I know, he’s more than just a pastor doing his job. Through his diligent preaching and challenging, Catonsville Presbyterian finally grew in confidence to take on two capital campaigns; the first transforming our space to be more welcoming and accessible and the second to retire in less than 10 years the $900,000 mortgage we dared to take on. It might have been a little hair-raising for him during the renovations, but Ken carried on (and then promptly went on his first sabbatical). He started the Thursday Morning Bible Study with the Gospel of John but then over the years dared to dive into not only the Book of Revelation, but Job and the Gospel of Thomas. He has shown us the importance of Calvin, Barth, Zwingli, Loder and Kierkegaard and yes, even Jung.
A defining moment of Ken’s time here at Catonsville Presbyterian was in 2013 when “the letter” went out to the congregation and Ken told us that he was gay. He wanted to “be able to serve with a greater sense of wholeness and integration…I want to live into a greater freedom that I believe God grants us in Christ.” The benefits of being able to be so open was wider honesty in preaching but the big prize was we were introduced to his partner Mark, who complements Ken on so many levels.
“We are a people on the way”, Ken tells us often. He made sure that we were on the way. He led tours on Celtic Christianity (2005) to Scotland, to Turkey and Greece (2011) and the Reforming Spirit Tour (2016) which included Switzerland. Ken himself has been on the way with travels to the Holy Land with Princeton Theological Seminary, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to deliver a motorcycle to a fellow-pastor in Kananga, and a trip to Tanzania and Eastern Congo (via the harrowing Rwandan border) with IMA Health where he saw firsthand the miracle of the Moringa trees. As Professor Kovacs, he traveled to India and to teach a class on Christianity and Jung in 2013. But the biggest journey he undertook was the walking of the Camino on his last sabbatical in 2016. His latest journey is a bit different, although he travels for it. Ken is now studying at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich where he has passed his first round of exams with flying colors and working on his analyst training.
The person who arrived 20 years ago has taken us on a wild ride. We as a congregation have grown, morphed and matured. We are curious, open, busy, aware and energized to be instruments of justice in the wider world. The person who arrived 20 years ago, has also been on a wild ride. He wore his tri-cornered hat in the 4th of July parade. He now lives his life openly and has opened his heart to us, sharing stories about his cat Angus. He has teared up at our babies’ baptisms and has made Reformation Sunday a Sunday to remember with bagpipes and kilts. He has knitted himself into our lives at Catonsville Presbyterian and walked with us, even pushed us to ask the hard questions and to work with each other to move Catonsville Presbyterian forward. For the past twenty years, Ken has answered his call to serve Catonsville Presbyterian. Ken has been both preacher and teacher but most of all, he has been friend.