Report submitted to assembly on identity, purpose of PC(USA)
May 3, 2016
A vibrant family portrait of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has emerged from the recent church-wide conversation on the identity and purpose of the denomination, and God, Christ, love, and the world are among the most prominent subjects.
Dominant, too, is a commitment to Reformed Theology, and to the scriptural call to ministry outside the church. That’s the message coming from “When We Gather at the Table: A PC(USA) Snapshot (PDF),” a report of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) to the 222nd General Assembly (2016).
It outlines the results of the comprehensive effort made by COGA in late 2015 to dialogue with the church about who it is and what it is called to be. COGA, with the help of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Research Services office, invited anyone who wished to complete an online form with open-ended questions and to engage in group gatherings to talk about the PC(USA) in this current time and place. More than 3,000 Presbyterians responded and some 21,000 pieces of data came in.
“The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly wants to thank everyone who gave thought, prayer, and insight to Research Services,” COGA said in its report. “It was clear in all responses that all people care about their Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). If our church was only fueled by passion there is enough to carry us well into the future.”
COGA’s report is available on PC-Biz and will be part of the business received by the General Assembly when it meets June 18–25 in Portland, Oregon. The data collected by Research Services is available in a report here, and an external report written by Dr. John Brueggemann can be found here.
“We are a blessed and fortunate people who have a heritage that still inspires us to be hearers and doers of the Word; to treasure the role of laity and clergy together; that privileges thoughtful discernment and compels us to act for justice,” COGA said. “There is a widespread appreciation for Reformed Theology and how it has shaped us a church.”
Simultaneously, “There is an urgent sense that our efforts must now address the needs of congregations, mid councils, and agencies of the church—venerable and emerging, as an expression of faithfulness to the Lordship of Christ,” the committee said. “COGA notes a healthy restiveness to reform our structures and perhaps even our Presbyterian culture in service to a renewed vitality of witness in our nation and around the world. There is a common desire to find ways to support healthy congregations and our commitment to helping others.”
COGA’s report will first be received by the Assembly Committee on The Way Forward before moving on to the full assembly.