ST. LOUIS
Don Meeks, senior pastor of Greenwich Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia, preaches during Friday morning worship at the 223rd General Assembly.

Don Meeks, senior pastor of Greenwich Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia, preaches during Friday morning worship at the 223rd General Assembly. —Photo by: Danny Bolin

As the 223rd General Assembly (2018) once again wrestled with the highly debated issue of divesting from the fossil fuel industry, commissioners took a break to hear a call for unity and understanding during late morning worship.

With a full agenda and the expectation of a late assembly gathering, commissioners had voted to alter the agenda, canceling worship, but reversed that decision.

The Rev. Don Meeks, pastor of Greenwich Presbyterian Church in Nokesville, Va., preached on “a modest attempt at cultivating unity in the church.” He referred to the 2014 assembly gathering in Detroit and the church’s decision to allow ministers and sessions to fully participate in same-gender marriages.

Meeks described how he and a colleague engaged in meaningful conversation while maintaining opposite views on the issue. He encouraged the church to do the same on every issue of disagreement.

“We are living in time of great turmoil and tension. Division of culture is working its way into our church in our pews, pulpits and presbytery meetings,” he said. “Will we be part of the problem or solution? Are we willing to work across the aisle?”

Meeks offered his five-point covenant for consideration:

  1. Pray and live for unity with other Christians.
  2. Acknowledge your own prejudices and failings before criticizing other Christians.
  3. Trust that the intentions of others are honorable.
  4. Listen for understanding before speaking.  
  5. Communicate your convictions with gentleness and respect.

“We know how fractured our communities, churches and lives are. These practices won’t mend every wound, but they will help turn Jesus’ prayer into living reality where we live, work and play,” said Meeks. “I invite you to join me and let Jesus lead us toward unity with other Christians. If not us, who? If not now, then when?”