Rhonda Kruse and Theresa Cho asked commissioners at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s 221st General Assembly Sunday to think back to what was happening in American society in 1983, when the current standing rules for General Assemblies were written at the reunion of the northern and southern branches of the Presbyterian church.
The committee proposes an overhaul of the Assembly's Standing Rules, bringing them more in line with the shift to biennial assemblies and the changes in technology since 1983.
“I’m thinking about how long ago 1983 was. It was 31 years ago,” said Kruse. “Ronald Reagan was entering a second term. McDonald's chicken nuggets were a brand new item. Michael Jackson and moonwalking were all the rage.”
Back in 1983, the signature American car was the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
“It was a good car,” said Cho. “It represented order. Safety. But in 2014, we wouldn’t necessarily want to drive an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The rest of the world is driving fuel-efficient, hybrid SUVs.”
The PC(USA) already has a made the shift to flexibility and adaptive change with a new Form of Government. “Many churches have purchased the new Glory to God hymnal,” said Krusey. “They are updating their by-laws. They are living into a Brief Statement of Faith.”
Cho said the recommendations of the committee will help to expand boundaries so there is space for Presbyterians to make changes at future assemblies.
She compared the process needed to a project she and her son are sharing. “Each of us has a book called Wreck This Journal. The instructions say that by destruction we will tap into our creative selves,” she said. Even though her son is having a wonderful time, hers is still pristine.
“I have a lot of excuses,” Cho said. “But the truth is I am struggling to find a way to perfectly wrap my journal.”
Cho said that when we learn to get messily creative, then we will be able to achieve the common bond of unity, communion and mission, which is the purpose of the church.
“We are torn apart. And put back together. Wrecked and repaired. As Presbyterians. As the world,” she said. “We need to color outside the lines. Think outside the box. Poke holes in the ways we do things.”
The first recommendation for launching this creative destruction is to crack the spine. And when we do that, she said, “maybe we can begin to live recklessly in a way that engages us where we are rooted and calls us to listen to each other.”
“I invite you to crack the spine,” she said.
The Assembly Committee on General Assembly Procedures will discuss the proposals on Tuesday, making recommendations to the full Assembly later in the week.