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Draft of new Directory for Worship recommended for study

June 16, 2014

A revised Directory for Worship of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) took another step toward adoption Monday as the 221st General Assembly (2014)'s Committee on Theological Issues and Institutions voted unanimously to recommend study of the revised document prepared by the denomination's Office of Theology and Worship.

The process began in 2004 when the 216th General Assembly directed that the directory, contained in the Book of Order, be evaluated; then two years later, the Assembly directed it be rewritten and updated.

David Gambrell, associate for theology and worship, explained that the process was then delayed by the major overhaul of the Book of Order, but the directory is now ready for consideration.

Likening it to a compass, Gambrell said the directory “gives us our bearings and guides us.” He said the draft directory proposal is 10,000 words shorter, but still “upholds the essentials of reformed tradition while responding to changing contexts.”

“This is simply a revision, not a brand new directory,” said Gambrell. “But it is a thorough revision, seeking to update it for the church in this time and place.”

He called the draft directory proposal authentically reformed, culturally appropriate, accessible and helpful, and better organized.

If it is approved for study by the Assembly this week, the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly will accept comments, consideration and all forms of feedback from the church through July 1, 2015.

Also Monday, teaching elders Cynthia M. Campbell and Jack Bartlett Rogers were each presented with the Award for Excellence in Theological Education for outstanding lifetime contributions to theological education in, and for, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Campbell is president emeritus of McCormick Theological Seminary and pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Rogers was moderator of the 213th General Assembly (2001) and is professor emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

In other business, the committee also unanimously recommended

  • approving 61 colleges and universities as being related to the PC(USA),
  • approving new trustees elected by the denomination's theological institutions,
  • granting permission to 13 theological institutions to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in 2015–2016,
  • approving M. Craig Barnes as president of Princeton Theological Seminary, and
  • designating October as John Knox Memorial Month in recognition of the Scottish reformer's 500th birthday.

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