In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.
This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fourteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are church members, ministers (teaching elders) and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, promoting inclusion, reviewing and recommending actions are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Manager for Equity and Representation in the Office of the General Assembly. She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
Friday afternoon staff gathered in the Chapel at the Presbyterian Center for a conversation. One of the outcomes was a request to write up the process we used and to share it.
The invite said this:
What is the Church to do with #Ferguson, #MichaelBrown and #HandsUpDon’tShoot?
Come to the Chapel on Friday, August 22 at 2pm for an all-staff conversation
“You aren’t going to fix 400 years with a prayer” said this week by a man working at Greater St. Mark’s Church, a gathering place for the community. As people of faith we believe prayer matters – but words alone cannot adequately respond. To paraphrase St. Francis, “pray unceasingly, if necessary use words.” It’s time to act.
We have differing responses and levels of connection to the terrible events surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown. Let us sit at the bank of the river, bringing our lament and our holy fires.
Come as you are, be it sad, confused, angry, fearful or thoughtful. Connect, reflect and suggest action steps.
Join the conversation bringing your voice and experiences to inform the church’s response to the terrible events in Ferguson, Missouri and the situations closer to home lying just beneath the surface.
This one hour conversation will be co-facilitated by Sera Chung (PMA) and Molly Casteel (OGA).
We had over 50 folks come. We share with you the framing we used for our conversation. We offer it as one way to enter these difficult conversations.
This and other resources will be shared on the racial justice ministry website (Presbyterian Mission Agency) in coming days.
Here's a sketch of the resource:
We chose to use music to enter and depart from the space. Beginning with the African American spiritual, Wade in the Water and ending with the refrain from For Everyone Born by Shirley Erena Murray (GG 769, Glory to God, 2014).
We moved through the following elements:
Introduction & Opening Prayer
Framing for the Conversations and review of Mutual Invitation
Forming small groups of 5 or 6 persons (seeking new connections, rather than familiar ones)
Question(s) (with freedom to propose a question on your heart to your small group for consideration)
Reconvening in larger group to make suggestions for action steps in popcorn style (recorded on newsprint)
Closing prayer, with an invitation to participants to vote their top two action items by placing a sticker next to them as they depart.