In our midst

The moderator’s April column

April 6, 2011


This month’s column by the Moderator is a video podcast available at Below is the transcript.

It’s the first day of April as I record this video, and there are weather forecasts calling for snow in the Northeast. Nevertheless, it is unmistakably spring, and as proof I offer two words: Opening Day – the time when all major league teams start off with perfect records, hoping to capitalize on off-season changes.

For Christians, of course, it is the season of Lent, the time when we journey with Jesus toward the cross, the time when we seek not to deny him – but, with human failing, inevitably do. It is also the time when we look forward with faith to the journey’s next step – the journey toward the empty tomb, when we experience the miracle of God’s saving grace and the promise of new life – and a perfect record for each of us.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is also on a journey – a journey whose end is not yet known. Our presbyteries are voting on important issues, most notably a change to ordination standards, a proposed new Form of Government, and the addition of the Belhar Confession to The Book of Confessions.

It is both exciting and daunting to be in the midst of such change. At the same time, I know that the anxiety of change has the potential to overwhelm us. I also know that in the months ahead, some of us will rejoice and some of us will grieve over changes that are made.

The adoption of any of these changes will bring change to the way we live our lives together. We have also seen over the past few months the beginning of several conversations about what the PC(USA) should be – how do we as a denomination effectively proclaim that saving grace of an empty tomb to a 21st century world?

I take comfort in knowing that the church in every time and place has had to confront change. I also take comfort in knowing that God has always been with us in the midst of change, and that God is with us now.

I invite you to join in the conversations that are happening across the church, so that we, together, may discern the new things that God is creating in our midst. 

Elder Cynthia Bolbach is Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

  1. Mådam Moderator, I'm always set to wondering if our faith (& denomination) is (are) not too much fixated on "the empty tomb," & not ENOUGH focused upon the Spirit demonstrated at Pentecost in the lives of Christ's disciples. How often do we hear of the Spirit's work? How often do we DISCERN the Spirit at work. Yes, is not GOD a Spirit? Is this not The Age of the Spirit? Are we not a people passionate about the TRUTH Jesus (now the Christ) exemplified? Do we not know what it's like to live in the WAY, the LIFE anymore? We're living in the MIST, not "midst!" I regret, yes, bemoan, the lack of civility & unwillingness to work for the UNITY of the whole Church of Jesus Christ. Have so many of my sisters & brothers forgotten their faithful ordination vows? So many of us have become separatists. Collegiality, magnanimity, too often go the way of other "anachronisms." As we come to Easter celebrations again this year, are we finding FAITH "anachronistic?!" This is not a "good grief" moment, but it is perhaps a time of at least penitential grieving for our part of Christianity. F. Beyea, Ames, Ia.

    by Fran Beyea

    April 12, 2011

  2. The name "Jesus," used by my friend Cynthia in her communication, is not found in the index to the Book of Confessions. The index does include "Jesus Christ" and "Jesus of Nazareth." If Cynthia meant to refer to "Christ" or "Jesus Christ," in the interest of clarity she might well have used one or the other of those names. "Our Mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure, and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability, to execute the office of prophet, priest, and king of his church, in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation." Book of Confessions, 7152.

    by Karl Landstrom

    April 7, 2011

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