Worshipping-Witnessing Communities

October 1, 2013


“How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!”

Ps. 133:1 (NRSV)

We need sustained conversation. While tweets and blogs help, nothing replaces face-to-face, eye-to-eye, incarnated dialogue around tables, where we can debate and speak freely, placing our convictions to the gathered community, praying and worshipping with one another, trusting that the Lord our God will do something more than we can ever think or imagine.

We face enormous challenges, no doubt. There’s a certain sense that a two-minute speech at presbytery or at a General Assembly doesn’t quite do.

I am deeply grateful for the efforts by the NEXT Church and the Un-Conference in hosting several conversations as we seek to discern and discover the leading of the Holy Spirit for our time. We all want to be more faithful Christians in a 21st century world.

Through community conversations we can consider the issues and realities at hand. What we need is not so much another report or overture, another legislative move or judicial ruling; we need to do what the ancients did—gather around the Word in Scripture, sacrament, sermon. Not for a report, not for a vote, not for a parliamentary motion, but to talk, to listen, to pray, to consider, to reflect.

Vice Moderator Tom Trinidad and I invite you to two conversations we are convening this December on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary:

The first, a Colloquium on Ecclesiology, includes thoughtful presentations from ministry colleagues: Martha Moore-Keish, Joseph Small, Robina Winbush, Frank Yamada, Corey Widmer, Jerry Andrews, John Burgess—all of whom love the church, and who will help us dig deep into the question, “What is the nature and purpose of the Church?” We seek to recalibrate the church’s identity as Christ’s worshipping-witnessing communities.

The second, a Conversation on Unity with Difference, seeks a conversation that dignifies our differences of perspectives on the question of the nature and role of the confessions, confessional authority in the Reformed tradition, how we read the confessions, and how these relate to current discussions on Christian marriage. Presenters include: Martha Moore-Keish, Cynthia Rigby, Joseph Small, Kevin Park, Barry Ensign-George, and Charles Wiley.

Both of these gatherings will be live Web streamed, and recorded and archived for later use by the church at-large.

In my travels these past 458 days as General Assembly Moderator, and in the remaining 256 days, I hope we will take the time to pray, reflect, debate, discuss, and consider the purpose of why we have been called together by Jesus Christ, why 1.8 million sisters and brothers have been called to be in relationship, how we might renew our commitment to the Gospel’s call, and how we might move forward as a community that is united for the purposes to which we have been called, dignifying our differences—all the while anchored to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and tethered to the Reformed tradition.

I look forward to our conversation together. Blessings, grace, and peace of our Lord be with you.

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