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Written by Gradye Parsons

Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.

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October 3, 2011

October 2011-Monthly column featuring Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons

A living organism

September 25, 2011, found me worshipping with the spirited folks of the First Dominican Evangelical Church of San Pedro, Dominican Republic. It was a lively service with lots of music, many children, a fine sermon, and a moving celebration of the Lord’s Supper.


Joining me in worship were five people from denominations across the Caribbean. We were one of several small groups that had spread across the region that Sunday morning as part of our meeting of the Caribbean and North American Area Council, a regional part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.


After worship, we feasted at the home of the head of the board of the church. We talked about our congregations and the people in them. What we discovered through laughter and tears of joy was that we all face similar kinds of challenges.


Another commonality we discovered is that, like the Presbyterians I know, these characters are more than willing to take on struggles far beyond their strength. The San Pedro church takes a portable projector throughout the neighborhoods and shows films on violence. The church in Cuba has a vital AIDS ministry. Another church is fighting a front-line war on sex trade. And so it is – people in the Reformed tradition working to bring the love of God to their part of the world.


We also talked at length about the purpose of a denomination. For example, is it a set a fences that mark boundaries? Is it merely a faith-based, non-profit organization?


In his book Paradoxy, Tom Howard draws a distinction between the organization and the organism that is the church. The organism consists of the tradition, the ethos, and the living aspect of the church that changes with each new generation.


I find in the good ole PC(USA) today a whole lot of people who are earnestly seeking to live into this ever-changing organism that is being reformed into a new church before our very eyes. Let us all worship and minister with our hearts open in invitation to follow where Christ is leading into the new PC(USA).

Read the column in Korean. (PDF)

Tags: first dominican evangelical church of san pedro, gradye parsons, monthly column, reformed tradition, stated clerk