Sunday, June 15, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #9

Celebrate World Mission

The General Assembly celebrated and commissioned a huge new class of mission co-workers. Including spouses this is a group of 49 mission co-workers, from Hugh and Teena Anderson from Cascades Presbytery to serve in China to Claire Zuhosky from Shenango Presbytery to serve in Niger. This is a remarkable group of gifted people with amazing gifts going out all around the world to serve in partnership with partner churches, schools and medical facilities on our behalf. Is this not one of the most important expressions of ministry that we do together as a church? 

Can the Presbytery of Carlisle start a simple but transforming campaign to insure that each our congregations is connected, aware and supportive of our ministry in World Mission? Can every congregation learn about and engage with the ministry of at least one mission co-worker? 

General Assembly (2014) #8

Heath Rada was elected Moderator.

Special congratulations and special thanks to all the leaders and participants in the NEXT conference. All three of the candidates for Moderator mentioned their involvement in the NEXT conversation. The elected Moderator, Heath Rada, mentioned that he was recruited to consider running for Moderator by participants at the NEXT conference. We should be paying attention to the energy and vision emerging in the NEXT conversation.  


General Assembly (2014) #7

Claiming some church history today:

The computer program PC-Biz is used to track all the action items coming forward to the General Assembly. There is a Resources tab within PC-Biz which, I was surprised to learn today, includes now a copy of the famous Swearingen Commission report from 1925. The Special Commission of 1925 was created by the General Assembly then to respond to the conflict in the church being caused by what is now referred to as the Fundamentalist and Modernist Controversy. For students of Presbyterian history (like me) this Report is an important response to one of the most difficult times of conflict in the church. The balanced, fair, and thoughtful report went a long way toward easing the conflict. The Special Commission of 1925 lifted up what they called a "principle of toleration" which, I believe, is still very relevant and appropriate as we live through our season of discord and disagreement. A paragraph on the "principle of toleration" from the Special Commission of 1925 is copied here:

The principle of toleration when rightly conceived and frankly and fairly applied 
is as truly a part of our constitution as are any of the doctrines stated in that instrument. 
Not only is the principle expressed in definite terms, but its place and authority as a part 
of our organic law is further indicated in a number of articles by clear and necessary 
implication. Furthermore, it is recognized through unbroken practice in the 
administration of our form of government and our discipline. 

 Toleration as a principle applicable within the Presbyterian Church refers to an 
attitude and a practice according to which the status of a minister or other ordained 
officer, is acknowledged and fellowship is extended to him, even though he may hold 
some views that are individual on points not regarded as essential to the system of faith 
which the Church professes. Presbyterianism is a great body of belief, but it is more than 
a belief; it is also a tradition, a controlling sentiment. The ties which bind us to it are not 
of the mind only; they are ties of the heart as well. There are people who, despite variant 
opinions, can never be at home in any other communion. They were born into the 
Presbyterian Church. They love its name, its order and its great distinctive teachings. In its fellowship they have a previous inheritance from their forbears. Their hearts bow at 
its altars and cherish a just pride in its noble history. Attitudes and sentiments like these 
are treasures which should not be undervalued hastily nor cast aside lightly. A sound 
policy of constitutional toleration is designed to conserve such assets whenever it is 
possible to do so without endangering the basic positions of the Church.