The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wonders what wisdom is possessed by Presbyterians who may not travel in the movers and shakers crowd at General Assembly or keynote national conferences, or even lead a regionally influential congregation.
He wonders what they have to say about the future of the church, about where and how God is at work in the PC(USA).
So he’s throwing an online conference called We Are Presbyterians.
The concept ― and invitation ― is simple: record an 8-minute video answering five questions, post it on YouTube, notify Reyes-Chow and then watch a full day of the videos being streamed while interacting online on June 22, beginning at 8 a.m. PDT.
“We’re looking for people who don’t normally have a chance to speak to the whole church,” Reyes-Chow said. “There’s a perception that the two recent conferences where people are trying to talk about the future, Next and The Fellowship, are funded and led by big church, tall-steeple pastors. While there’s a definite need for their expertise and experience, there are also a lot of people who have some great ideas or at least a different perspective to the whole thing.”
Reyes-Chow is aware that the expense of hosting or participating in a face-to-face conference is a significant barrier to making room for lesser-known speakers.
“No one has to get on a plane or spend all that money on renting meeting rooms so a small group of people can listen to a few people. Technology allows more people to be heard by more people,” he said.
The project’s goal is to collect and stream at least 50 videos during the day.
“One of the challenges is helping people navigate the technology,” Reyes-Chow said. “I get that not everyone has a video camera, but you know someone who has a web cam on their laptop. Someone around you and you can just record straight into that camera and post it to YouTube. You don’t have to edit it.”
Reyes-Chow noted that a couple of the videos received so far do incorporate editing, music and entire congregations.
“It’s pretty cool to see the diversity already,” he said.
“This is not in opposition to anything,” Reyes-Chow said. “It’s more like a message: ‘Remember the church is bigger than those who have the emotional, ecclesiastical and physical resources to gather and come up with options.’ It’s a way to add some other flavors into the mix. We’ve talked about wanting to have our voices included, or have a multitude of voices included, and this is one way to step up and do this.”
The deadline for posting a video is June 15, midnight PDT.
Anitra Kitts is a free-lance writer in Santa Rosa, Calif., and a candidate for the ministry under the care of Cascades Presbytery.