Moderator to convene conversations on ecclesiology and unity at Princeton Theological Seminary

Both live and online participation welcomed at Dec. 9–13 events

November 14, 2013


What has God called the church to be and to do? How can Christians stay unified despite theological and political differences?

These urgent questions will be the focus of two events organized by Neal Presa, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, and hosted by Princeton Theological Seminary in December.

The Moderator’s Second Colloquium on Ecclesiology, Dec. 9–11, will feature addresses by seven pastors and theologians on the nature and purpose of the church. Each address will be followed by responses from Princeton students and professors and from local pastors. Then, other participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The Moderator’s Second Conversation on Unity with Difference, Dec. 11–13, will also take place at Princeton. It will feature seven addresses, each followed by a period of discussion.

Presa hopes the two events will spark wide-ranging conversations throughout the PC(USA) and beyond. To maximize participation, both events will be accessible via teleconference, live-streaming on the Web, and Twitter (follow #ModCE and #UnityDiff).

“This kind of conversation is so needed in our church today,” Presa says of the Colloquium on Ecclesiology, which follows a previous colloquium at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in April.

“When the church is confronted with internal and external challenges, the tendency is to look inward, to look at its structures, its rules, its procedures,” Presa says. “While that’s important, the enduring and durable call of Jesus Christ is for us as followers of Jesus to be Christ’s gathered, sent community—to be about worshiping and witnessing to the gospel.”

The Conversation on Unity with Difference is the follow-up to a previous conversation at Stony Point Center (New York) in December 2012. Presa says the goal of the conversation is to help Presbyterians—and other Christians—deal constructively with conflicts so they don’t end up “fracturing the body of Christ.”

Participants will examine what the PC(USA)’s Reformed heritage—expressed in the Book of Order and The Book of Confessions—contributes to current discernment efforts around the potentially polarizing topic of Christian marriage.

The goal, Presa says, is “that we be intentional about hearing each other, expressing and welcoming divergent perspectives, and trusting and praying that the Holy Spirit keeps the body together as we all seek to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ in today’s world.”

Those in the Princeton Seminary community see the two events as opportunities “to strengthen the conversation between the seminary and the church and to provide models of theological reflection,” says Barbara A. Chaapel, Princeton’s director of communications/publications.

Making the conversations available online is good stewardship, she adds. “People can be full participants without traveling to Princeton.”

Registration information, as well as a complete list of speakers and topics, are available at the event websites:

The papers to be presented by the speakers will be posted in advance on the event websites as well.

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