The Journal Gazette
Saturday, July 29, 2017 1:00 am

Local man prepping to preach for royal family

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

The Rev. Michael Lindvall was there at the investiture of Britain's former Prime Minister John Major into the Order of the Garter, and at the installation of the new lord of Edinburgh Castle.

On both visits, the Presbyterian minister opened the Scottish Parliament by giving the morning devotional.

But now, the Fort Wayne resident will top that. On Sunday, he is scheduled to preach to the queen.

That is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, sovereign of Great Britain and other British Dominions.

The request to lead the service at Crathie Kirk, the church where the royal family worships when they are at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, came as a surprise, Lindvall said.

The invitation came from Iain Torrance, former president of Princeton Seminary, who became Lindvall's friend when Lindvall was the lead pastor at Brick Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. Lindvall will retire from that position in December after 15 years.

Torrance is now Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and with that responsibility comes another, that of the Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland. Torrance is in charge of lining up summer preachers and thought of Lindvall for Sunday's event.

Lindvall and his wife, Terri Vaun Smith Lindvall, left for Scotland on Monday for a few days of sightseeing before arriving at the Presbyterian manse near the church.

Lindvall was told to keep the sermon short and that, along with the queen and Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are expected to be at the church. He's been told when they are in residence at Balmoral, the royal family “always” goes to church.

When Lindvall wrote his sermon, he tried to think of the context.

“I'm not exactly preaching to the queen,” Lindvall said. “I'm preaching to a congregation where she simply happens to be present.”

He's at ease with the assignment, having given sermons for years. He described himself as appropriately anxious. “I always say if a preacher stops being a little anxious, they've lost their edge,” Lindvall said.

Lindvall grew up in Minnesota and Michigan, where his father was a game warden. He met his wife when he came to First Presbyterian Church in 1972 as a seminary intern, the year between his second and final year at Princeton Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

She was a college student attending Skidmore College and working as a summer counselor for the West Central Neighborhood Association. He was also working there.

“Terri walked in wearing an Indian print dress and a daisy in her hair and I was smitten,” Lindvall recalled. Their first date was the Three Rivers Festival parade a few weeks later.

Married the next year, Terri Lindvall did not return to Skidmore, but attended college wherever they lived, eventually getting a degree in art education from Wayne State University. They have lived in Ferndale, Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Northport, New York (on Long Island) and lastly, in Manhattan. They have three adult children who work in television, music and one is a Presbyterian preacher. They also have three grandchildren.

For Terri Lindvall, a painter and art teacher, Fort Wayne has always been home. The Lindvalls spend summers on their lake house on Lake Michigan and will now live in a two-story home in West Central that they are renovating. They chose to live downtown for the urban feel and to be part of the downtown renewal.

Michael Lindvall plans to continue writing. He has written books on what he calls “accessible theology” and two novels.

Both are looking forward to meeting the queen on the church porch before Sunday morning's service. There is a possibility of a reception afterwards.

Michael Lindvall will wear the Geneva robe and “dog collar,” often worn by Presbyterian ministers. Terri Lindvall will wear a black and white polka-dot dress, black hat, white gloves and black and white shoes.

The dress came from Bloomingdale's in New York, she said, and wasn't purchased expressly for the visit.

In the meantime, she is working on her curtsy, she said. He will bow.

“I'm excited,” Terri Lindvall said. “I can't wait to meet her.”

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