One year later

August 8, 2011


I am now a little more than halfway through my term as Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). What have I learned over this past year?

First, I had no idea what being Moderator meant once the assembly adjourned. But the mechanics and the process kicked in. I accepted invitations and started traveling around the denomination. Here’s what I’ve seen:

  • Commissioners to presbytery meetings who discuss together, struggle together, and pray together, as they seek to discern what God’s will is for their presbytery and for our denomination.
  • Congregations across the country that come together to worship God, each in its individual style, but also uniquely Presbyterian.
  • Joy and grief over the adoption of a new ordination standard and a new Form of Government.
  • Excitement and anxiety about what the future holds for the PC(USA).      

And here’s the most important thing I’ve seen: Presbyterians across all spectrums – theological, geographical, age, ethnicity  – Presbyterians confronting difficult, emotional issues with respect and trust for one another.

Given the past month in Washington, D.C., I think we’re way ahead of the federal government on how to deal with difficult problems. And that gives me hope – if not for Washington, at least for the PC(USA).

I know we are not of one mind on ordination standards or whether the new Form of Government is a good thing.

But what I’ve learned over the past year is this: Even if we are not of one mind on particular issues, we value what it means to be the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We cherish our Reformed heritage and the way it compels us to preach truth to power. More than anything, we want to bring the good news of the gospel to a world that is sorely in need of it.

Much about our institutional structure will change over the next few years. But what I’ve learned is that despite change, the core of who – and whose – we are abides: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

  1. As moderator of a presbytery, I too have been thinking of what this call means and what my responsibilities include. I believe that part of my responsibility is to pray for each of our teaching elders as well as their congregations. As I visit these congregations I find their joys and challenges are unique and yet the same. Authentic prayer is such a great connector as we live through inevitable change.

    by by Jeanne

    August 14, 2011

  2. Yes, this yrear of our Lord 2010-2011 has been a ground-swell of change! It remains to be seen whether these changes will be good or bad. My reading is that the Holy Spirit has given us in the PCUSA a wake-up call! God's scripture is to be obeyed. Words (e.g. 10A) certainly divide us. "Guided" is like a curve sign, "Obey" is like a stop sign. Fail to stop, and your life is in danger. Failure to obey the Scripture, as we have in both 10A and ordination, and the life of this denomination is certainly in danger of ending. The next eleven months will critical to us all.

    by Harry Bolick

    August 12, 2011

  3. I wonder about the Moderator's assertion that Micah 6:8 is the "core of... who we are." Micah 6:8, or similar affirmations, could easily be the core of who a Jew or who a Muslim is as well. I would have thought that the core of a Christian church would have been trust in Jesus Christ and the kingdom he announces, which of course includes, but is much more than, Micah 6:8....

    by Winfield Casey Jones

    August 10, 2011

  4. I wonder if she has noticed the mass exodus of congregations and people leaving the PCUSA over what she has been a part of?

    by Greg

    August 9, 2011

  5. and we treasure you who as been called to be Moderator of the PCUSA for such a time as this. May you continue to be blessed with clarity, courage and strength in the months ahead. I am proud to call you sister.

    by Leslianne Braunstein

    August 8, 2011

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