Louisville

Identity conversations are taking place across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) wants to make sure all join in.

What does it mean to be Presbyterian? Who is the church called to be in this current day and time? How should the denomination serve into the future?

Valid questions are being discussed in nooks and crannies throughout the church, and now the General Assembly committee that oversees assembly work between biennial meetings is inviting the entire denomination into a churchwide conversation.

“In these changing times it’s imperative that the PC(USA) dialogue in community about its identity and purpose,” said Margaret Elliott, moderator of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. “We’re inviting Presbyterians to dream big dreams, hope big hopes, and share them with their brothers and sisters.”

“The fruit of that dialogue will then be used by the General Assembly—an expression of the church’s core—when it gathers June 18–25, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. Together the body will discern a way forward for the church,” she said.

Getting more than 1.6 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations to talk and give input won’t be easy, but COGA is giving it a shot, and banking on the denomination’s value of connectionalism.

The process begins October 23 when people can go online to share their thoughts and comments. Sign up in advance at pcusa.org/identity to ensure you receive the online form.

Simultaneously individuals, congregations, mid councils, seminaries, affiliated groups, and anyone else who wishes are being asked to gather for discussions on their own about the identity and purpose of the denomination. A downloadable discussion guide available October 23 will aid that process, and COGA will host several conference calls in the coming weeks to walk through the discussion guide.

For the social media savvy, Twitter chats on the topic will be hosted by General Assembly Vice Moderator Larissa Kwong Abazia. Dates and times for the discussion guide conference calls, as well as the Twitter chats, will be released October 23.

“Our prayer is that the depth and breadth of the PC(USA), rich in its diversity, will be intentional about discussing who God has called us to be and what our charge is for the future,” Elliott said. “It will then be up to the assembly, empowered by a wealth of information from this churchwide conversation, to collectively discern the mind of Christ for us.”

Specific times are being docketed for the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to handle this work along with its other critical business.

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Join the Conversation

Share your thoughts about the identity and purpose of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as part of a churchwide conversation. Talk individually or in groups, and also register at pcusa.org/identity to share views and comments online. The 222nd General Assembly (2016) will use much of the information gathered to collectively discern God’s call for the church.

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