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.
October contains World Communion Sunday, Reformation Sunday, and All Saints Day. While the Reformation is not just about the Reformed family of faith, I would like to share with you what some of our Reformed saints in the making are doing in the world.
The Reformed Church of Hungary is helping its’ neighbors to the south in the Ukraine. The Sub-Carpathia Reformed Church in Ukraine has around 140,000 members. The war has made their situation even more perilous.
The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan continues to be a victim in that country’s civil war. The church was a leader in the establishment of the country. But now it has had its main campus destroyed and many churches burned.
The Reformed folk in Lebanon and Syria are part of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon has taken more than 1.5 million refugees from Syria and 750,000 from Iraq. The population of Lebanon has increased by 50 percent. Members of the church and others have taken people into their homes, churches, and schools.
There are many more stories from the other 90-million-plus Reformed sisters and brothers around the world. You and I are part of them. Our theological roots go back to the same people. Our Reformed understanding of the church and society propels them as it does us to work for peace and justice in their countries. The grace received in the gift of Jesus Christ opens their hearts to victims of oppression, whoever they may be.
As we mark these special days this month I am asking you to pray globally. Pray that we can live out the words of the Brief Statement of Faith:
In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. (Book of Confessions, 10.4, Lines 65–71)
School has started in our city. I watch the young people from our neighborhood trudge up the little hill to the front of the subdivision to catch their bus. Because it takes a while to figure out which bus is the right bus, the mothers are often seen standing in front of homes watching their children until the bus comes along. Then, one by one, they take their coffee mugs and head back into their houses.
I am even more aware that some of the moms still carry a great deal of anxiety about those children. The mothers of color have the extra burden that some unintended action by their sons may get them into trouble and possibly shot. They might not receive their sons back at the end of the day, but receive a phone call or a knock on the door with the message that no parent ever wants to receive.
In August there will be a major change in my family’s life. My daughter’s family will be moving from our home to her new call as the college chaplain at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. This means that my grandson Dylan, who has lived with us since his birth in March of 2013, will be leaving our daily life. I thought I would share some things he has taught me these past months.
YEA as a liturgical response. Dylan says a loud Yea to preludes, hymns, prayers of the people, sermons and the passing of the peace ...
[Korean] [Spanish] The late Maya Angelou showed real insight into people when she said, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way(s) he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” Hopefully she never observed me in any of those situations.
Welcome to the 221st conversation as a whole church gathered as commissioners this time in Detroit, Mich. This conversation has some legs on it. It began in 1706 when a few folk got together to form the first presbytery. It picked up some energy when the newly formed General Assembly met for the first time in 1789.
This conversation has been heated at times. It has been full of passion and sincere disagreements. This conversation also launched a fifty-state church that also spread the Gospel around the world. It started schools, colleges, hospitals, and community centers.
The conversation reached outside ...