‘I will give you rest’
Parsons preaches at Presbyterian Center memorial service for Moderator Cynthia Bolbach
December 14, 2012
Staff at the Presbyterian Center gathered today to give thanks to God for the life of Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010). See a video recording of the service here.
Bolbach, a proudly Ruling Elder from National Capital Presbytery, died Dec. 12 after a nearly yearlong battle with cancer. She was 64.
The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, preached on Matthew 11:28-30, in which Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We all carry heavy burdens in this life, Parsons said.
“Cindy Bolbach came into the life of our church at a time when we were especially burdened,” he said.
While standing for moderator in 2010, Bolbach preached on Mark 2:1-12, the story of the paralyzed man. She preached on the same passage again in 2012, at the opening worship of the 220th Assembly.
That story is significant because Bolbach reminded the church that “our focus should be to bring people to Christ,” Parsons said.
“Cindy lifted our burdens with her razor-sharp wit,” he said. “I like to think I have a black belt in sarcasm. Cindy was triple diamond.”
Bolbach loved the PC(USA) and was deeply committed to her call as a ruling elder, Parsons noted. She also worked hard on the new Form of Government, serving as co-moderator of the New Form of Government (nFOG) Task Force. The nFOG, which was approved in 2010, takes a more flexible approach to church governance and structure.
Also approved in 2010 was Amendment 10-A, which permits the ordination of non-celibate unmarried persons, including gays and lesbians, as church officers.
“Cindy loved this church and she wanted it to have open arms to all whom God called to membership and leadership,” Parsons said, noting that she was open about her opinions but loved all, whether or not they agreed with her.
“Cindy loved this denomination, and the PC(USA) loved her,” Parsons said.
During her battle with cancer, Bolbach was overwhelmed by the love and support she received from Presbyterians via Facebook, Parsons said. At this year’s Assembly, supporters showed their solidarity for her chemotherapy-caused baldness by donning bright green wigs during opening worship.
Bolbach’s friends helped carry her burden until God ultimately took it all, Parsons said.
“Now you and I are weary and have heavy burdens because of this death,” Parsons said, reminding us that yokes are not meant to be carried alone — Jesus offers to help us carry the “burden of bruised hearts.”