Inspiring the Assembly with a vision cast by the Presbyterian Mission Agency for the whole church, PMA Deputy Executive for Mission Roger Dermody today summarized the objectives of a new churchwide initiative, Living Missionally, which was unanimously adopted as part of the consent agenda of the 221st General Assembly (2014).
“The Living Missionally initiative seeks to inspire Presbyterian congregations to reach out to their communities through intentional acts of service in Christ’s name, which many of our churches are already naturally doing,” Dermody said. “It’s in our DNA.”
Dermody said that because Presbyterians have sought to be mission-centered from their inception and have a strong, unwavering belief that there is no other way to truly be the church, “this initiative calls us to reaffirm our historic commitment and reclaim our identity to be ministers to the immediate needs and hurts of the people in our neighborhoods and communities.”
The churchwide call to go beyond the steeple and live missionally was reinforced through several examples of “the good work already going on”:
- A young Presbyterian in Kentucky, who—struck by the scene in the movie “The Blind Side,” where the central character confesses to never having had a bed—began a campaign to give beds to children who didn’t have one;
- A Presbyterian church in New Brunswick, N.J., which partners with other churches in the community to volunteer thousands of hours annually, blessing the neighborhood with acts of service;
- St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz., which decided to “worship” on every fifth Sunday by moving outside the walls of their church to serve their community together.
Because many Presbyterians do not generally associate such community service with their Christian identity, Dermody emphasized that this initiative would help the church to see normal, day-to-day interactions as part of following Jesus.
Dermody noted that another compelling aspect about the new initiative is that it is “not calling us to add a bunch of new programs or hire a bunch of staff or take on any new financial implications.”
“This is the sweet spot of our work, core to our mission statement, how we serve the church,” he said.
Moving forward, the PMA will be working together with mid councils and congregations to transform neighborhoods and communities by living missionally and to develop plans and metrics to measure results in deeper engagement in years to come.
“Recognizing and reclaiming that the purpose of our being gathered is to be sent,” Dermody asked the Assembly, “What if the PC(USA) were known for this? What if were known for that even more fully?”