Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
It seems only appropriate to begin the July 2011 column with a quote from the new Form of Government. The very first paragraph begins with a statement that lifts up the mission of the congregation where it is planted:
The congregation is the church engaged in the mission of God in its particular context. The triune God gives to the congregation all the gifts of the gospel necessary to being the Church. (Book of Order, G-1.0101)
The pew we sit in every Sunday, the church school class, the light through the sanctuary window, the Communion Table, and the handshake of friends are some of the unique dimensions that define each of our congregations. Through these tangible facets we experience the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. So, while we observe only two Sacraments, we participate in many rituals that make each of our congregations unique.
But that’s not where the first paragraph ends. It continues:
The congregation is the basic form of the church, but it is not of itself a sufficient form of the church. Thus congregations are bound together in communion with one another, united in relationships of accountability and responsibility, contributing their strengths to the benefit of the whole, and are called, collectively, the church. (G-1.0101)
The rest of the paragraph places the congregation’s mission within the context of the whole church. It may seem on any given Sunday that we have all we need in our particular congregation. But the truth is, the whole church is present and contributing. That hymn we sing comes from a vast collection of saints. Many people across the church prepared that teaching elder to preach. That mission partnership we have is with many other congregations related to the same country. That new family was nurtured first by another congregation.
We are many, and we are one in this mission. We are ever dependent on others – first to God, then to many sisters and brothers in Christ who help distribute all the gifts necessary to be the church.
God bless them every one.