In Spirit and Truth is the blog of the General Assembly Committee on Representation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will feature content written by the sixteen members of the committee, who are teaching and ruling elders from across the country, and our staff person in the Office of the General Assembly, as well as links and articles of particular interest. These blog entries are intended to prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly level. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, reviewing and recommending are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from our sister committees on representation at smaller councils throughout the church. From time to time, guest contributors will provide content. Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church USA or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Coordinator for Representation and Inclusiveness Services. She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
I’m feeling especially grateful these days. This week I received a colorful package from California. Inside was a book, 40th History of the Ethnic Concerns Committee, a great gift from Joan Alston, a colleague in the Synod of the Pacific. The cover is a beautiful rendering of the two sides of the hand-carved doors to the chapel here in the Presbyterian Center where I serve. More than once this week, I’ve given in to the temptation to peruse a few of its pages and in it I’ve learned so much more about the deep history of the synod’s multicultural ministries.
It got me thinking—we Presbyterians have so many anniversaries to celebrate in 2013—including Committees on Representation, which were laid out in the Articles of Agreement and constituted in the first Constitution of the newly reunited Presbyterian Church (USA). The birth of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was made official in Atlanta, on June 10, 1983 at the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States. The 30th anniversary of denominational reunion will be celebrated with a street party in August at the Big Tent event in Louisville, KY.
Presbyterians have split and reunited a number of times. If you are interested in knowing more, there is a lovely summary of the predecessor bodies in a presentation on the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) website.
The reality is we have just begun to heal the schisms of our past. The PCUSA is entering a new phase of life together. Committees on representation are a part of the story of how we build trust, hold one another to our shared commitments, and build the beloved community fit to serve the living, loving God.
What is to come? Our wildest imaginations cannot contain the promises and the possibilities. May we serve faithfully and share the journey as widely as possible, open to what we may do together with Christ.
PHS also has a series called Living History. My colleague Vernon Broyles III, servant of the Lord, volunteer for public witness, and “The Church in the World “columnist in Presbyterians Today, tells a part of his story there. As the USA marks so many major civil rights anniversaries in coming years, his story shows a part of the Southern church witness in the midst of those great events.