At Advent, we expectantly turn the page of a new liturgical calendar as we anticipate Christ’s coming, prepare for the story of the incarnation, and await Christ’s glorious return. Advent is a time of new beginnings and hopeful expectations. A time when the “now” and the “not yet” are held in an especially delicate tension. The cycle of days—both ordinary and extraordinary—begins anew.

In this season of new beginnings, our thoughts turn to congregations and individuals who are starting the new liturgical year—this year—outside the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Nowhere is our sense of the now and the not yet of Christian unity more apparent. New beginnings so often come with a sense of loss for what has been.

At the same time, our hearts and our prayers are also with those congregations and individuals who continue to consider whether to start life over outside the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Even as we long for the day when Christ will perfect the good work begun in us, we grieve this loss to the body of Christ known as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

As national leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we know that our denomination consists of many members, all of whom contribute significantly to the body, and we are united in our desire—and hope—that no church member, church officer, congregation, or presbytery leave this body.

Claiming the promises of God sealed in our baptism, we are a communion of congregations and mid councils only because the triune God has chosen us and called us together. We did not join this body by our own choosing.

Reflecting on God’s call, we renew our desire for all congregations and presbyteries to continue together to do Christ’s mission in the world. This call endures and has not changed despite the divisions the church has always known and which continue still today. Our unity in Jesus Christ—made visible wherever and whenever we come to the Eucharistic table—cannot be undone.

May it be so.

Neal D. Presa
Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)    

Tom Trinidad
Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency

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Read a related presentation, PC(USA) Building Unity and Community.