Sunday, June 22, 2008

General Assembly reflections part 3

Copied from the General Assembly website:

The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, 39, an energetic new church development pastor in San Francisco and leader in the “emergent church” movement, was elected moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Saturday night (June 21), capturing a second ballot victory.

Reyes-Chow — who received 48 percent of the first ballot votes — won an easy majority on the second ballot with 390 votes or 55 percent.

The Rev. William “Bill” Teng of National Capital Presbytery finished second with 255 votes or 36 percent. The Rev. D. Carl Mazza of New Castle Presbytery finished third with 52 votes or 7 percent. Elder Roger Shoemaker of Homestead Presbytery trailed with seven votes or 1 percent.

Reyes-Chow is pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, an innovative new church of San Francisco Presbytery that was recently named winner of a 2007 Sam and Helen Walton Award for outstanding new church development. In his address to the Assembly, he noted that he makes as many pastoral calls by email as by in-person visitation.

Such is the future of ministry, Reyes-Chow said. Mission Bay has a state-of-the-art Web site and extensive electronic communications among members and participants, which he said is absolutely essential for a congregation that is predominantly under-40.

In her nominating speech for him, Elder Vivian Guthrie of Greater Atlanta Presbytery urged Reyes-Chow’s election “to keep our church relevant … or we aren’t going to be on the same page as younger people. Bruce has a profound understanding of the way the world is changing, so he can help us feel less anxious and less resistant to change.”

In both his speech and his responses to questions, Reyes-Chow reiterated over and over his belief that “nothing is too hard or too wondrous for God. If the church steps out in faith rather than clinging to survival, to be more intent on being faithful than on being right, to be together based on our common covenant in Jesus Christ rather than by property or pensions, then we will be able to live into a future in which we are a vital and vibrant presence in the world.”

Teng, the only one of the four candidates to explicitly support the current constitutional prohibition of the ordination of sexually active gay and lesbian Presbyterians as church officers, emphasized his campaign theme of “gratitude and hope.” “We gather up a wealth of meaning as Presbyterians in response to the grace of God in Jesus Christ,” Teng said. “We have no greater need than to look beyond ourselves and follow Jesus into the world he loves and calls us to love.”
Mazza, who brought to his candidacy a compelling personal story of conversion and resultant commitment to the homeless and other marginalized people as founder and director of Meeting Ground in Elkton, MD, spoke of the two “great strengths” of the PC(USA) that drive his ministry: “We have an abiding commitment to gospel and Jesus Christ and a commitment to mission in the world,” he said. Shoemaker, the only elder among the four, called for Presbyterians to develop a greater understanding of themselves as the body of Christ and as Presbyterians and in doing so “we will find ways to pursue solutions that will grow our congregations spiritually and numerically.”

Reyes-Chow, the grandson of Chinese and Filipino immigrants to California, was raised in Sacramento and Stockton, CA. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University and San Francisco Theological Seminary. A prolific writer and blogger, Reyes-Chow describes himself as a “pastor/geek/dad/follower of Christ.”