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.
One of the great aspects of my time as Stated Clerk is hearing about the mission and ministry of Presbyterians and their congregations. Sometimes it is ministry in its own community. Other times it is a mission trip to some spot in the world. Universally I hear how these experiences are transformative.
When I was in Cuba a few years ago almost every congregation I visited had photos of mission trips from PC(USA) congregations on its walls. Presbyterians are strong believers in helping others. They build and rehab houses. They tutor students in resource-challenged schools. They build water and solar systems. They serve food through either church pantries or community meals. It is all awesome.
Another universal part of these mission enterprises is the T-shirt. It is a required aspect of doing God’s work. I assume the disciples had some sort of T-shirt too. Several years ago we conducted a national conference with a souvenir T-shirt. One of our speakers was a well-known politician. When he came to register he was asked what size T-shirt he wanted. We were told very clearly he and his wife did not wear T-shirts! But after spending half a day at the conference and catching the vibe, they sheepishly came back to the registration table and asked for their T-shirts.
I have this idea for a grand visual. I want to invite every Presbyterian in attendance at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to bring a mission T-shirt to Portland. I want us to all wear them on Thursday, June 23. It will be a living tableau of the vast and varied ways Presbyterians are involved in mission every day. For those of you not in Portland you can join wherever you are.
Hopefully we will have some time to hear stories about these missions and ministries. Stories will inspire us to go back home and attempt a similar mission.
I am packing my mission T-shirt. How about you?