Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education 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).
This past weekend I was in Southern California for two events. The first was to spend a day getting to know Fuller Theological Seminary and its ministries to Presbyterian Students. (Although Fuller itself is not Presbyterian, many, many candidates for ordination in the PC(USA) graduate from its programs.) In my next post, I will talk about the second reason for my visit, the Southern California gathering of the Fellowship of Presbyterians.
This post gives me a chance to synthesize some of what I have been learning over the past couple of weeks through my travels. I have recently traveled to both the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and the Presbytery of Northern Kansas to facilitate the marriage study published by the Office of Theology and Worship (which is a key part of my ministry area). This study is explicitly designed not to drive participants toward consensus or toward problem solving, but rather toward allowing everyone who participates to hear the others’ points of view, so that they gain empathy and understanding.
Yesterday I was in Atlanta for a meeting of the Special Committee on Funding Theological Institutions, a team which has worked since the last General Assembly (at its request) on the question of the best way for the denomination to raise money for the Presbyterian Church (USA) seminaries. There are seminary presidents, development professionals, members of the Committee on Theological Education, lawyers, a recent college graduate, pastors, and staff of the Presbyterian Mission Agency on the committee. We met at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA (just outside Atlanta).
Click here for an article I wrote recently printed in the Presbyterian Outlook.
Perhaps proving the old Presbyterian adage that you can’t get to heaven without crossing through Montreat, I ran into a friend of mine from seminary who happened to be at Montreat at the same time as me. He pastors a church at a nearby presbytery, and told me about a recent conversation at their presbytery about whether or not the purpose of the “General Assembly” is to help churches to thrive.
Our goal in producing this guide is to help the church think in nuanced ways about the issue of marriage—in particular same-gender marriage. The General Assembly did not ask us to write a paper marking a specific position, but rather to ask questions designed to help congregations and participants understand more clearly what they themselves believe. Please pray alongside me that the Holy Spirit will use this guide to do just that.
One of the most interesting conversations I had there revolved around the marriage study that the General Assembly has asked my colleagues in the Office of Theology and Worship to prepare. In order to make sure that the study is as effective and as faithful as it can be, thirteen churches are pre-testing the study, and Hopewell is one of them.