We have the opportunity to discuss the identity and purpose of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as part of a church-wide conversation initiated by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. “Please share your insights, wisdom, hopes and dreams for the PC(USA),” said Margaret Elliott, moderator of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. “Through careful listening and honest sharing we can create a church for this time and place.” Talk individually or in groups using a discussion guide downloadable at pcusa.org/discussionguide<http://pcusa.org/discussionguide/>. Hear how to walk through using the guide on information calls:
Friday, October 30, 10–11 a.m. (EDT)
Wednesday, November 4, 3–4 p.m. (EST)
Monday, November 9, 8–9 p.m. (EST)
Use call in (800) 231-0316, or (314) 696-0504 for international participants
Also share thoughts using an online form available until November 13 at pcusa.org/identity<http://pcusa.org/identity>, and join Larissa Kwong Abazia, Vice Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014), in Twitter chats. She’ll be @LarissaLKA using the hashtag #pcusaidentity on:
Thursday, November 12, 9–10 p.m. (EST)
The 222nd General Assembly (2016) will use much of the information gathered to collectively discern God’s call for the church. Contact [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]> for questions or more information.
Heath Rada’s call to the church:
Recently I issued a call to our denomination about issues that have been raised with me since my election as Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014) in June of 2014. There is widespread concern, shared by many places in our church, that our denomination is in significant need of refinement. A number of people believe that we have been trying to operate as we did in the past when our membership was many times greater and our resources reflected those numbers. But even more importantly, I hear and believe that God’s Spirit is calling us to be a new church in the 21st century.
So what do we do? How do we proceed as faithful servants?
We need you to share your thinking and discernment with the broader church. My Call to the Church has been received by many as a catalyst to help us move forward. The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has been engaged in a conversation for a long time about what is needed to make a difference, and they are taking the unprecedented step of developing a system to gather, assimilate, and convey to the church a process for listening to your call for a new day. They are also seriously considering committing part of next June’s assembly in Portland to help us make some decisions. The NEXT Church and the Presbyterian Mission Agency also are doing survey work to determine future directions. Accompanying this letter is the COGA initiative to hear from the denomination.
In order to emerge as a healthy, vital denomination we need to hear from you concerning your own hopes, visions, and concerns about the PC(USA). Each congregation, each organization, each presbytery, each advocacy group, each individual member is critical to providing the kind of input that can help us deal with the realities we are facing in ways that might enable us to restore trust, be transparent, and most of all be faithful to the Lord and Savior we all adore and whom we wish to serve.
Do not respond just one time. If you are on a session, or a committee, or in a group that is different from your local church, fill out one of these forms there too. As an individual, do the same while also participating in your presbytery’s response or some other group. Because we will be coordinating the information rather than merely quantifying it, it does not skew the responses if you have input in a number of different ways. In fact, the more our voices are heard the better will be our understanding of reality as we offer information so commissioners can make responsible decisions.
Please trust the process one more time. Please participate. If you don’t, we may not hear some very important facts or opinions that need to be placed on the table. Many people feel that God is giving us a Kairos moment. But it is up to us to accept it and do something with it.
My Call to the Church is on video and in print. Our moment in time is now. We do not have the luxury to discern and debate these matters for years. Our membership and our world are saying we need to get our act together in new and important ways right now.
I have more hope and faith than I ever have that God is leading our church. God is calling the church to be a community formed, shaped, and led by the Risen Christ. You are key in helping us decide how that can happen. With God’s help we have the opportunity to be a witness and force for Jesus Christ in ways beyond our imagination.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for participating, and please join me in intentional prayer as we seek God’s will and guidance through these critical endeavors.
With gratitude for your love of the church,
Heath K. Rada
Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014)