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Thanks and praise — and disappointment

Moderator shares what he’s heard from PC(USA) during summer

August 12, 2014

Heath Rada

Heath Rada —Paul Seebeck

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla.

The annual Evangelism and Church Growth Conference kicked off here Monday night with a welcome and opening prayer from Heath Rada, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 221st General Assembly.

“In my many travels this summer, this is the only place I asked to come,” Rada told some 500 Presbyterians gathered for Go. Disciple. Live. — this year’s conference theme.

“I wanted to be a part this conference I’ve heard so much about to participate in the extraordinary work these folks do,” Rada said.

Rada said he’s heard one consistent message in his travels so far: thank you. This message has come from people at the White House, from Jewish rabbis and friends and from a well-known Palestinian author and journalist.

“They all said, ‘Thank you for your church’s concern for justice,’ even those who were disappointed — hurt — by the General Assembly’s (2014) decision on divestment.”

Rada asked for prayers for himself and his wife, Peggy, as he recounted things he’d heard from people in churches.

“A man at a square dance grabbed my hand and said ‘I’m saying good-bye,’” Rada said.  “‘Because nobody looked at a Bible when they made those decisions at General Assembly.’”

At another church, people told him, “‘We’re pulling out because the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.’”

And at a larger church where he had done some mediation work, they said, “‘Heath Rada is a criminal, he is no longer welcome.’”

“I was trying to understand where they were coming from,” Rada said. “The only thing I’ve ever had is a speeding ticket.”

Before giving the opening prayer for the conference, Rada asked those gathered for their help.

“The Presbyterians I know believe Scripture guides us in the decisions we make, they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior,” he said. “So please join with me. Let’s tell the good news happening in our churches, and the reason why they’re happening.”

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