June 25, 2012
It is with a bittersweet heart that I write this, my final column as Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
I admit I won’t miss airport security lines one bit. But I will miss, very much, seeing first hand all that is happening in the PC(USA) and getting to know all of you who are, day in and day out, sharing in word and deed the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the last two years, I’ve witnessed the breadth and depth of the ongoing mission across our church. Folks in Charleston Atlantic Presbytery provide supplies and clothing for thousands of school kids. Children of migrant workers get medical checkups at health fairs set up and run by the Synod of the Covenant. An in-depth confirmation class continues over several months at Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, to name three examples out of many.
I’ve also sensed some uneasiness about what’s happening in the denomination. Some months back, I read in the Washington Post about a metaphor that I think accurately describes where that uneasiness comes from. I’ve shared this metaphor before, but it bears repeating.
The metaphor was used originally to describe the decades-long project to turn the Pentagon into a modern, technological building while people continued to work there. The project leader compared it to turning a black-and-white television set from the 1950s into a flat-screen HD set without ever losing the ability to receive programs.
That’s what we’re doing. We’re retooling the PC(USA) from a denomination that was created during the 1950s and 1960s – a time when American society was predominantly Christian and Protestant – into a denomination that can proclaim the gospel in a post-Christian, multicultural society. Doing that retooling means great flux and change – which can cause uneasiness – but it is change that has to happen.
I’m excited over what lies ahead for a flat-screen HD Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Through God’s grace, we will continue to witness to the redeeming power of Jesus Christ in the world.
And I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have served as Moderator these past two years. No matter what lies ahead, my life has been enriched in so many ways.
Thanks be to God.