Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Formation, and Evangelism Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
Last week I spent a day preaching and connecting with the folks at a Heartland Presbytery meeting in Kansas City, MO….The presbytery, like many others, is concerned about congregations moving through discernment processes to leave the PC(USA). In meetings like this, it is easy to lose hope about the denomination.
Yet when Executive Presbyter Charles Spencer gave his report, he pointed to hope. Sure, he acknowledged the difficulties facing the church at all levels, but then he pivoted to very exciting news.
After a four-flight, 26 hour, 14-time-zone-crossing journey from Busan, Korea, to Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina last week, I spent 48 hours last week working as part of the leadership team for next summer’s Montreat Youth Conferences. I am so excited to be preaching there for the first week next summer, and the purpose of this gathering was to build community and to plan for what is to come. The “Montreat Machine” has been doing these things very effectively for a long time, so I was the beneficiary of a lot of amazing collective wisdom.
I am still processing my visit to the Tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) over the last week and suspect that I will be for a long to come. The assembly is a combination of the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly, the richest continuing education seminars that you can imagine, and the beginning of a bad joke (an Ethiopian Baptist, Japanese Presbyterian, and a Colombian Pentecostal walk into a conference room…). The fullness of the days and the amazing array of experiences and connections made it like the twenty-course meal I shared with a friend during my time in Busan.
One of the most stimulating parts of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches for me has been the ecumenical conversations on renewal—a word which is often used, but rarely defined, in many Christian traditions. The conversation is headed toward a statement about renewal which will (hopefully) be adopted by the Assembly, but in this post I wanted to share some of the affirmations and challenges about renewal that surfaced in my small group with a Methodist gentleman from Nigeria and a Baptist woman from Ethiopia.
It has been an incredibly rich time here in Busan, South Korea, at the Tenth Assembly for the World Council of Churches (WCC), where thousands of delegates and participants and observers have come from all corners of the earth and many streams of Christianity to find partnership in ministry. The days have been full, with plenaries, Bible studies, workshops, ecumenical conversations, and business meetings. In an assembly like this, we try to focus as much as we can on our unity in Christ. However, that unity is much easier to embrace in the abstract than it is in the particular. I got a good reminder of this during a conversation with a delegate earlier today.