From their shared symbol of the Sankofa bird to messages of decolonizing and belonging and embracing the Matthew 25 invitation, the Co-Moderators of the 224th General Assembly delivered a valedictory address Saturday morning via GA Live, broadcast here at 10 o’clock each morning of the Assembly.
Watch GA reporter Fred Tangeman’s 32-minute conversation with Co-Moderators Elona Street-Stewart and the Rev. Gregory Bentley by going here.
“From the outset, Elona and I wanted to be very intentional,” said Bentley, pastor of Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama. “We weren’t just representing ourselves, but we represent a people, and we’re talking about the Indigenous people and African Americans who bring a rich history and heritage with us. The Sankofa embodies that — going back and fetching something that we left behind, which is something that we’ll need in order to flourish and thrive in the present.”
“There has to be a better sense of why we gather and who we are,” Street-Stewart said. “It’s that concept of belonging together which comes out of that holistic view of Indigenous people … Whatever your overtures and conversations in committee might be, it should be for building up people you belong to. And we also know as a church we belong to God.”
Tangeman asked about Restorative Actions, which the Co-Moderators selected to receive the offering from Saturday’s opening worship. It’s a model that’s “based on recognizing that a portion of this country has benefitted so much, and that’s white households,” Street-Stewart said. “African American and American Indian people who gave everything were never compensated … Now it’s time to stand before God and say, ‘We’ve got to make this right.’”
“It’s not just transactional. It’s transformational,” Bentley said. “This is about all of us. We want to flourish together in the way God intended.”
Bentley said he and Street-Stewart intend to “be evangelists for Matthew 25 even when our term is up.”
Street-Stewart, executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, said she and Bentley agreed from the start of their term together to “honor the previous moderators” of the General Assembly. Asked by Tangeman if they had any advice for those elected Saturday night to succeed them, she said, “Be in communion together. That’s where you start. With a great sense of humility, plow ahead with the work. But realize it should be about bringing community together and not being seen as problem-solvers, because you’re serving a term of two years.”
“We are talking about a lifetime commitment to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Street-Stewart said.
At 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, Tangeman is scheduled to speak with the Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly. Watch here.