Speaking a word of grace
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Five months from now, commissioners to the 220th General Assembly will be hard at work in Pittsburgh. They will be engaged in worship, study, reflection, discussion, debate, and much prayer as they seek to discern the mind of Christ for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The discussions at the assembly will be thorough and spirited, as they should be. After all, matters of faith and how we live out our call to be followers of Christ run deep. Seeking to end warfare, poverty, and injustice, to feed the hungry, to do our part to spread the gospel worldwide, and much more, invoke great passion, energy, urgency, and commitment.
Of course, the spirited discussions around issues that will be considered at the General Assembly are already well underway. We pause at this point to speak a word of grace into our conversations. Acknowledging our unity in Christ calls us to the highest standard of discourse. Such an approach calls for engaging one another with respect and leaves no room for language that dehumanizes or denigrates the personhood of anyone involved in the conversations, regardless of position on an issue.
The theme for this year’s assembly is “Walking, running, soaring in hope,” which alludes to Isaiah 40:31. Earlier in that same chapter, the Lord through the prophet’s voice reminds us mortals that we are merely grasshoppers when compared to the One who “stretches out the heavens like a curtain…and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.” It is humbling to consider how small we are in relation to almighty God. May we approach one another in the same spirit of humility and grace.
In the days ahead, it is our prayer that our commitment to acknowledge the humanity and intrinsic worth of those with whom we engage in debate will be as strong as our passion for justice and debate, so that we might all be transformed by the encounter and drawn closer to God.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.
Linda Valentine, Executive Director, General Assembly Mission Council
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Office of the General Assembly
Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly