A call for unity

December 17, 2012

Louisville

At Advent, we expectantly turn the page of a new liturgical calendar as we anticipate Christ’s coming, prepare for the story of the incarnation, and await Christ’s glorious return. Advent is a time of new beginnings and hopeful expectations. A time when the “now” and the “not yet” are held in an especially delicate tension. The cycle of days—both ordinary and extraordinary—begins anew.

In this season of new beginnings, our thoughts turn to congregations and individuals who are starting the new liturgical year—this year—outside the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Nowhere is our sense of the now and the not yet of Christian unity more apparent. New beginnings so often come with a sense of loss for what has been.

At the same time, our hearts and our prayers are also with those congregations and individuals who continue to consider whether to start life over outside the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Even as we long for the day when Christ will perfect the good work begun in us, we grieve this loss to the body of Christ known as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

As national leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we know that our denomination consists of many members, all of whom contribute significantly to the body, and we are united in our desire—and hope—that no church member, church officer, congregation, or presbytery leave this body.

Claiming the promises of God sealed in our baptism, we are a communion of congregations and mid councils only because the triune God has chosen us and called us together. We did not join this body by our own choosing.

Reflecting on God’s call, we renew our desire for all congregations and presbyteries to continue together to do Christ’s mission in the world. This call endures and has not changed despite the divisions the church has always known and which continue still today. Our unity in Jesus Christ—made visible wherever and whenever we come to the Eucharistic table—cannot be undone.

May it be so.

Neal D. Presa
Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)    

Tom Trinidad
Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency

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Read a related presentation, PC(USA) Building Unity and Community.

  1. I am not a member of the PC(USA), but came to this site out of curiosity, having overheard some of my co-workers talking about the religion. Ironically, our pastor had a similar message last Sunday regarding unity in our church first and all Christian churches secondly. I cannot agree more with Pastor Shumans' comments that the Church (ALL denominations of Christianity) must unite if we are to regain the respect of the world and have the impact that we seek on it. It saddens me to see the discord in this, or any other church.

    by Patrick Robinson

    July 11, 2013

  2. I rarely visit this site, though I've been a life long Presbyterian and ordained minister since 1985. I am simply saddened by those who continue to think that dividing the body increases its effectiveness in an already too broken world. Seems to me we have a lot more important issues to address, like how to stop the slaughter of innocents in our school rooms. Maybe if we could learn to love one another and hang together despite our differences the world might listen to the Church again, as it did before Constantine.

    by james p. shuman

    December 23, 2012

  3. I am serving my third term as ruling elder in a Central Iowa PC(USA) church. Half our members left last year in disgust over the GA's actions on the gay agenda. I stayed to help the church survive the wound and to fight on against Christianlike naturalism in the church, but my own heart is broken as well. I am deeply disappointed in the national leadership of this denomination. They continue to use their position to advance their personal political agendas as evidenced by their recent letter on abortion funding through ObamaCare.

    by Tom Richards

    December 18, 2012

  4. Unity requires leaders to think clearly about what unites us and what divides us, and then to put the weight of their leadership efforts toward what unites us. That has not been the case in the PCUSA for some while. Given a choice between uniting conservatives and liberals or pursuing their social and political passions, they've chosen the latter. With very predictable results. I would like to believe the call to stay in unity signals a new willingness to listen and really respect the opinions of those on the other side. But I have no reason to do so. And many reasons to read the letter to say, "Please stay with us. We're not going to slow down for a moment as we impose our theological, political, and social views on the PCUSA, but pay no attention to that." God called us to believe and follow Him, not to be a lifelong member of the PCUSA. People and congregations do have a choice. And they're choosing to leave in droves.

    by Tome Walters

    December 17, 2012

  5. I am one of those leaving. I resigned from my Session in June after serving most of a decade as an Ruling Elder in two different churches. This departure marks the ending of 25 years of committed membership and leadership in the PC(USA) for both my wife, a Deacon, and myself. My family and I will continue to serve the Lord as we join a local PCA church in our area just after Christmas. We affirm the continued fellowship and friendship of those who choose to remain, and will continue to pray for peace within and between all groups of Christians. I truly appreciate this statement, because our decision was not made lightly or easily. Be well and go with God.

    by Anthony Awtrey

    December 17, 2012

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