Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship has started publishing a series of "Theological Conversations." The paper by Dean K. Thompson in this series titled "Our Presbyterian Virtues" tickled the deep pride I have for our great Presbyterian Church:
What are the Presbyterian virtues: "the life of the mind; enjoyment of the natural creation; humility and self-criticism arising out of the awareness of justification by faith alone; love of the simple life contrasted with a life colored by pomposity; a deep sense of awe before God and the mysteries of the faith; and a strong awareness of our public responsibility." Amen!
See Theological Conversations, Our Presbyterian Virtues by Dean K. Thompson.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
In a moment Kim is going to report for our Mission Committee. Please join us in work we are doing in partnership with Presbyterian World Mission in support of the Presbyterian Church in Honduras. All of our congregations do mission, reaching out beyond the members of the congregation into the local community and around the world. Mission is a key aspect of our identity together in Christ. Mission is an important part of who we. We are reminded of this in the first chapter of the Form of Government of our Book of Order:
“The congregation reaches out to people, communities, and the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ, to gather for worship, and to offer care and nurture to God’s children, to speak for social justice and righteousness, and to bear witness to the truth and to the reign that is coming to the world.”
I encourage each congregation, especially as you prepare your budgets and build stewardship efforts, to intentionally evaluate and review your mission. I want to encourage these principles as you do mission:
Do mission in partnership: Your mission work should never simply be writing checks and giving away money. Build partnerships and relationships with people. Presbyterian World Mission has created abundant ways for us to stay in personal relationship with our mission co-workers. You should know the world mission co-workers you support by name. Many, if not most, of our congregations participate generously in local mission through food pantries and local social service ministries. We may gather thousands of dollars’ worth of groceries to give away, but do we build relationships with the people and the families that receive this generosity? We need to be careful to do mission. It is very easy to support patterns of dependency motivated by pity, which make us feel good but do not build relationships and do not inspire or transform people in Christ.
Balance local and global: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” We have an opportunity to do mission around the world through Presbyterian World Mission. There is also work to do in our own communities. We have a clear, unambiguous calling from the Lord to go to all the world. We have a clear, unambiguous conviction that the whole world belongs to God. We need to have a balance in our mission work between local and global. We need to educate ourselves and participate in the work of the Church in our neighborhoods and all around the world.
Balance a response to poverty, evangelism and reconciliation: These three – responding to poverty, evangelism and reconciliation have been identified by World Mission as our critical issues. In our congregations, we seem to have an affinity for responding to poverty. Many of congregations have active local mission work to the poor in our communities. But what about the mission of evangelism, sharing the name of Jesus? What about the mission of reconciliation, bringing people together across barriers of cultural, social and racial differences? We need in our mission work to seek a balance between alleviating poverty, the work of evangelism and the work of reconciliation. These three are the guiding principles of Presbyterian World Mission, and may also be guiding principles for our congregations.
Connect with the larger Church: Consider the larger church as part of your mission work. You have the opportunity to participate in and support the ministry and mission of many other congregations through your support of the Presbytery. A number of our churches are now naming the Presbytery as a Designated Mission, and providing specific, designated support to the work of the Presbytery. This is a growing line item in our proposed Budget. Theologically, it is important to consider support for and connection with the larger church as part of your congregation’s mission.
This is part of Presbyterian World Mission’s organizing statement: “As Christians, we understand "Mission" to be God's work for the sake of the world God loves. We understand this work to be centered in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and made real through the active and leading power of the Holy Spirit. The "where" and "how" and "with whom" of mission is of God's initiative, sovereign action, and redeeming grace. The message we are called to bear is the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.” Let us do mission together in the name of Jesus. Amen!
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Our Presbyterian World Mission has sounded a loud cry of an immediate, dire financial crisis. (See https://www.pcusa.org/news/2015/5/5/presbyterian-world-mission-funding-gap-may-force-r/). An all-star list of our General Assembly Moderators and other leaders helped to amplify the cry across our Church with their pastoral letter. Our stellar mission co-workers, serving in partnership all around the world, are being called home, new terms of service are being cancelled and our whole international mission presence faces a massive downsizing. As an Executive Presbyter serving a Presbytery that has had a long and vital commitment to Presbyterian World Mission this news breaks my heart. I have sitting on my bookshelf here at the Presbytery of Carlisle a whole line of those cute, little statuettes which were given to the “Top-Ten” mission giving presbyteries. (I believe this little annual recognition was itself cancelled in recent cutbacks.) Mission leaders in our Presbytery are rallying to raise support for World Mission, and we hope to provide funding for a new mission co-worker position, and thus begin to turn the tide on this crisis. For those of us convinced that the future of our denomination requires closer linkages with global Christianity, our own Presbyterian World Mission is a vital piece of our common life.
Nonetheless, it may be that the funding crisis at World Mission also presents us with the opportunity to ask some important structural questions:
1) The recruitment, calling and support of our mission co-workers:
As an Executive Presbyter, I am directly involved with the employment of many church leaders, especially pastors. In fact, I guess that in my, one Presbytery I work with the hiring and installation of more pastors in any given year than World Mission hires co-workers. Every Presbytery in our Church hires and installs pastors regularly. In this process, our Presbytery functions with a high degree of professionalism, competence, consistency and theological rigor. Supporting the process of pastoral transitions is one of my most important ongoing, job responsibilities. We have a carefully defined process for hiring pastors which is rooted in our ecclesiology and supported by our polity. This process has abundant support from the Office of the General Assembly, including the office of Vocations, and many theological requirements of this process are defined in our Book of Order. My question is why Presbyterian World Mission does NOT use this well-honed, theologically rigorous process for hiring mission co-workers. The whole personnel process of World Mission has been subsumed within the World Mission administration and separated from all direct connection with our presbyteries and congregations. Why has World Mission created a completely separate, autonomous personnel process? Why has World Mission created a personnel process aside from and different from the polity and practice of every presbytery in the church? I believe I can answer these questions: World Mission, probably initiated by Robert Speer in the great era of foreign missions, made decisions to function as a corporation. All the rest of us, i.e. all the presbyteries and congregations, function as a church. I believe the distinction between functioning as a corporation and functioning as a church is profound and irreconcilable.
2) Our theology of ordination:
One of the most compelling aspects of our Presbyterian theological vision today is our understanding of ordination as expressed in the offices of Teaching Elder, Ruling Elder and Deacon. Our theology of ordination is beautifully articulated in our Book of Order and is a hallmark of modern, Reformed theology today. My question is why some of our most important church leaders, namely our mission co-workers, are not included within our theology of ordination. Our theology of ordination is limited to church leaders serving in our own congregations and church related institutions. Are not our mission co-workers serving with partner churches and institutions all around the world worthy of ordination as much as church leaders serving here at home? Certainly, many of our mission co-workers are, in fact, ordained officers. But we do not require all mission co-workers to be ordained officers as we do our installed pastors and session members. I suggest that all our mission co-workers need to be ordained officers within the PC(USA) and named as such in the Book of Order. I will argue for the creation of mission co-worker as an ordained office in addition to Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders, and Deacons. My preference would be to begin the long process of constitutional amendment seeking to add mission co-worker as an ordained officer in the Book of Order. This potential new church officer as mission co-worker may also be used to include those that are not already ordained who are emerging to lead new worshiping communities.
3) Election by the People:
Please see the Book of Order F-3.0106, “Election by the People”. Clearly one of the sacred, historic, theological principles of our church is the election of our church officers by the people. But the long standing, personnel procedures of Presbyterian World Mission has abandoned this foundational doctrine of our Church. With this neglect we have lost a vital means by which we connect our mission co-workers with the Church. Our mission co-workers should be directly connected with our presbyteries and congregations and elected to service by these Councils. Thus I suggest that all mission co-workers should be formally elected to their positions by either a congregation or a presbytery. This is always our procedure for Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders and Deacons. The hiring of mission co-workers must stop being an invisible, hidden process held tightly by World Mission administrative staff. We need an open, public, transparent search process exactly parallel to the search for a new Teaching Elder. Claiming this practice of electing our mission co-workers will be a big step toward directly reconnecting World Mission with our presbyteries and congregations.
In my recent, little book on the history of our foreign mission work I wrote: “The future of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and all of American mainline Protestantism, will require a greater immersion in the powerful movements of global Christianity. These connections will span the globe gathering brothers and sisters from profoundly different cultures together in the church. When local congregations today see themselves as part of the remarkable movement of Christianity around the world the spark of spiritual vitality and energy will fill hearts and our churches. Certainly, congregation-based mission partnerships are important. There will also be a crucial role for governing bodies and church councils who seek to create opportunities for partnership and shared mission practices across the great barriers of culture and language. And a revitalized, national agency of Presbyterian World Mission with a team of professional mission personnel is evolving into a leading piece of the foreign mission enterprise.” (See my The Presbyterian Mission Enterprise, Wipf and Stock, 2015). May it be so for Presbyterian World Mission and the future of our PC(USA).
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Copied here is a wide-ranging, important article about the future direction of our denomination. Bebb is currently serving as the Interim Pastor of our Silver Spring Presbyterian Church.
June 23, 2015
from Rev. Bebb Wheeler Stone, PhD.
A letter from a Presbyterian Teaching Elder, baptized and raised in the PC(USA), to all my Friends in Christ:
I write out of a concern that the word ‘missional’ does not help us learn from the errors so evident in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s general approach, which has been to downplay key parts of our ethos in an effort to avoid conflict and build a brand.
We have inherited a liberating, egalitarian way of being faithful to Jesus Christ in the Reformed tradition’s understanding of Scripture, polity, theology, and ethics. This Way, Truth, and Life of being Christian is indeed not simple, but its practice through 500 plus years has protected us from the extremes of zealotry (Christianity as an ideology, for example, or ‘Christianism’, where folks compete to be ‘holier than thou’) as well as from a completely culturally captured faith with no prophetic word.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has struggled to be faithful in contemporary life, wrestling with scholarly interpretations of Scripture, insisting on its Teaching Elders being trained in Hebrew and Greek. Our denomination has refused to relinquish the Hebrew Testament and its formative meaning for Jesus' life and ministry. Our denomination has refused to relinquish the prophets, and their consistent speaking truth to power for the sake of justice and peace, values at the very heart of God. Our denomination has refused to relinquish reason and values science, as we love God with heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves.
We have understood why Confession is a stronger witness than ‘profession’, and even acknowledged in our Book of Order that "this organization rests on the fellowship and is not designed to work without trust and love" (G-1.0102).
Our tradition bequeathed to our nation a representative method of majority rule in which the conscience of the minority is protected by emphasizing that the church’s power is “ministerial and declarative” (F-3.0107). Through the fires of conflict we have learned the wisdom of "mutual forbearance" (F-3.0105) that is lifted up in our historical principles of church order, reminding us that persons of good faith may differ on nonessentials. We witness to our sense of fairness by our polity, where we prefer parity of ministry to hierarchy. We have learned to work in coalitions and contexts that are ‘secular’, in ways that remain consistent with the values we believe are at the very heart of God: justice, mercy, peace, and love. We see God’s sovereign Spirit moving in every sphere of life.
We need urgently to let go of the neologism ‘missional’, which rolls off the tongue uncomfortably and is not in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary! We have some 250 years of profound ‘mission’ history doing the kind of work that established schools and hospitals, to care for the value, dignity, and humanity of each person. Just as we need to let go of one word, we need to recover our enthusiastic use of another – “Justice" – a word we learn from Scripture itself, an ultimate divine value critical to God's blessing of human endeavors.
We have tried the road of avoiding conflict, and where has it gotten us? We have tried the road of funding charity, but not justice, and the generations coming of age today have questioned our courage. We know how to do community organizing; it’s in our DNA. Let’s fund the organizers of the Presbyterian Church (PHEWA, among others), pulling them back from the margins to the center of the Presbyterian Church’s work for justice.
A personal hero of mine, the Rev. William Thomas, H.R., Presbyterian Teaching Elder, used to remind us that the Greek idea of justice is the goddess Dike – blindfolded, with her balance scales (the symbol of our American legal system); but that the Hebrew idea of justice in our YHWH God is the Holy One, no blindfold, with a finger on the scales, ordering right relationships and including the widow, the orphan, and the outcast. We do not worship a ‘fair and balanced’ God; we worship Jesus Christ, who embodied for all to see the way to be and act as a citizen in the Commonwealth of God.
In recent years our uniquely Presbyterian connectional system – in which authority flows from local congregation through Presbytery and Synod to General Assembly, and at the same time from GA through Synod and Presbytery to the local congregation – has been de-emphasized. We have allowed a more congregational polity to take hold, a polity that damages the organism in its global and national responsiveness and witness. We need to recover the larger vision of our Presbyterian connectional polity as a birthright.
When we moved our denominational offices to the ‘heartland’ (Louisville, KY) after reunion in 1983, we almost seemed to be in retreat from the concerns of the world beyond our coastlines. With all the past decade’s Reductions in Force, 100 Witherspoon Street has too much unneeded space, and perhaps too much sadness, for our next chapter of ministry and mission. Perhaps now that we have the enhanced capacities of computers for meetings, conferences, and connecting, might we consider decentralizing our General Assembly Offices and our Mission Agency to cities that are more international, diverse, and intercultural? Four come to mind: New York, Atlanta, Houston, and San Francisco.
With the recent changes in the staff at 100 Witherspoon Street, might we reconceive of the role of Executive Director more as a General Presbyter or Commissioner, reflecting more of our Presbyterian heritage? In addition to stated clerks and moderators, we have had a range of general secretaries and chairpersons not modeled on CEOs.
Let’s use our church’s language and polity for our leaders as well as our process! We worship a servant Lord; let’s employ persons, and be persons, who are less ‘executive’ and more ‘servant’ for our church!
AUTHOR BIO: Rev. Bebb Wheeler Stone, PhD., serves as Interim Minister for Silver Spring Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsburg PA. She is a past president of The Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association (PHEWA), and a founding member of Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO). Recently she served on the Presbyterian delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
What happened in the year 1787 here in the great state of Pennsylvania? In Philadelphia, elected delegates from the states convened a Constitutional Convention intended to amend the Articles of Confederation. George Washington was selected to preside over the Convention. However, instead of simply writing some amendments to the Articles of Confederation a whole, new Constitution was produced. On September 17, 1787 the Constitution was adopted by the Convention and sent to the states for their approval.
Maybe there was something magical in the air or in the water of Philadelphia at that time. More likely it was simply the revolutionary ethos of that era which inspired the writing of such magnificent documents. The very next year, in 1788, the Presbyterians gathered in Philadelphia to consider revisions to the Westminster Confession of Faith. They went much farther than that. They wrote a uniquely American and Presbyterian Form of Government. At the beginning of that first Book of Order, the founders of the American Presbyterian Church included an important section titled “The Principles of Church Order.” These principles have been handed down to us.
One of the things I really like about the recent revisions to our Book of Order is the creation of the special section at the beginning called Foundations, now referred to as section F. What were the first four chapters of the Form of Government were pulled out, slighted reorganized and now listed as section F – Foundations. The Foundations section of our Book or Order includes, The Historic Principles of Church Order. These are exactly the principles that were written in Philadelphia in 1788. They have been directly handed down to us. I ask today whether we are worthy of them?
One of the Historic Principles of Church Order, and there are eight of them, is called Mutual Forbearance. It is a stunning principle, an amazing idea, and a doctrine that we sorely need in the Church today. It is a doctrine that shakes us to the core still today. It is a doctrine that challenges us and confronts us on many different levels. The historical authenticity of these words is so important that we have not changed the exclusive, original language from 1788. I quote from our Book of Order, section F – 3.0105: “We also believe that there are truths and forms with respect to which men of good characters and principles may differ. And in all these we think it the duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other.”
Let me name three theological issues around which we have created robust expressions of mutual forbearance: baptism, the Lord’s Supper and speaking in tongues. The doctrine of adult baptism which is practiced in all Baptist churches and the doctrine of infant baptism which is practiced in Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches are theologically opposite. You cannot reconcile the doctrine of infant baptism with the doctrine of adult baptism. They have completely different theological foundations. These are different truths.
The Roman Catholic Church believes in a doctrine of transubstantiation which proclaims that in the Lord’s Supper the actual substance of the bread and the wine are transformed into the real body and blood of Christ. In Presbyterian Churches, we believe that the bread and juice remain always bread and juice, but the real presence of Christ is known in the gathering and in the memory of the people. These are different truths.
For many Pentecostal Churches all around the world today speaking in tongues is an immediate and present spiritual gift which the people are encouraged to express in every service of worship. For us speaking in tongues is a historically contextual spiritual gift from an earlier era of the church which we neither seek nor invite into our worship services today. These are different truths.
Historically, we have often expressed mutual forbearance in and through different churches: mainline Protestant versus Baptist versus Roman Catholic versus Pentecostal. Now in our church, with the recent approval of an amendment to the Directory of Worship in our Book of Order, concerning the definition of marriage, we are trying to do something profoundly different. We are trying now to express a full and robust mutual forbearance within our church. I believe these different definitions of marriage are both theologically grounded and biblical; I also believe they are irreconcilable. These are different truths.
The challenge we face today may be one of the greatest challenges to this doctrine of mutual forbearance since the hot, muggy summer in 1788 when it was first inspired and articulated. This doctrine of mutual forbearance, this historic principle of church order has been passed down to us now. Are we worthy to receive this this gift? May it be so.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Our Pastoral Letter:
The Presbytery of Carlisle, in official meeting on April 9, 2015, approved two action items by clear majority votes: 1) we voted to dissolve the pastoral relationship between the Rev. Wayne Lowe and our Faith Church; 2) we elected an Administrative Commission to function as the council of Faith Church, replacing their session. Immediately following the meeting, Rev. Lowe formally renounced the jurisdiction of our PC(USA). Our Administrative Commission has already fully engaged with a committed group of people at Faith Church who are motivated to move forward together.
Unfortunately, these actions have been wrongly characterized in recent publications. On behalf of our Coordinating Council, we believe it is important to get this story right. In our opinion, getting the story right was not important to the Harrisburg Patriot News in their recent article concerning our Faith Church; neither does it seem important to the Layman.org website which has copied the Patriot News story.
Our actions concerning Mr. Lowe and the Session at Faith Church were not in response to their strongly held theological convictions. Many Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders and active members of the PC(USA) hold conservative and evangelical theological convictions. Many people within our presbytery who voted in favor of these action items hold such convictions. The characterization of our actions as some mighty battle in the culture war between liberals and conservatives is wild hyperbole and simply wrong. Evangelical pastors are not being “forced out the door” as the Patriot-News alleged.
Our action was motivated by the observed dysfunctional exercise of pastoral authority and leadership in Faith Church. People were silenced, and verbally bullied, which resulted in open dialogue and discernment being stifled. A disdain for the PC(USA) was set by the pastor and a few leaders without conversation and discernment across the congregation. In a phrase, mutual forbearance (see Book of Order F-3.0105) was crushed resulting in a fractured congregation.
The conclusion that the congregation at Faith Church was fractured and divided was not arrived at casually. Our Committee on Ministry, after extensive review of the situation which included several conversations with Mr. Lowe, members of session as well as members of the congregation, concluded that this division was a result of dysfunctional pastoral and session leadership. Consequently, the Committee concluded such pastoral leadership was not equipped to lead the congregation to reconciliation and healing. This conclusion was the basis of our Committee on Ministry recommendations to the Presbytery; the Presbytery agreed by a large majority.
Today there are over 200 Protestant denominations in the United States, of which our PC(USA) is one. Our denominational structure is based on a foundational commitment to mutual forbearance, tolerance and a commitment to holding different convictions together in one church. This style and culture of church is not for everyone. Mr. Lowe’s decision to renounce jurisdiction and to leave the PC(USA), even though that was not the action of Presbytery, suggests that he has determined that the style and culture of PC(USA) is not for him.
This has been a difficult time in our Presbytery. We are grateful for the careful discernment of our Committee on Ministry and the orderly deliberation of the whole presbytery at our special meeting. We are grateful for the work of our Administrative Commission moving forward with the congregation at Faith Church into a new day.
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3: 20, 21)
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Moderator and Vice Moderator issue letter on marriage amendment
Dear members and friends of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Presbyteries have been engaged in conversation, discernment, and prayer concerning the recommendations from the 221st General Assembly (2014) in the nine months since Detroit, Michigan. Today, Amendment 14-F (On Amending W-4.9000 Marriage) received the required majority from the presbyteries.
The approved amendment to the Book of Order lifts up the sanctity of marriage and the commitment of loving couples within the church. It also allows teaching elders to exercise their pastoral discretion in officiating weddings and in doing so “… the teaching elder may seek the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service.”
Though we know that this amendment received the necessary majority for approval, we encourage the congregations, presbyteries, and synods of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to continue to be in conversation about marriage and family. We hope that such “up/down” voting does not mark the end, but the continuation of our desire to live in community; a partnership that requires prayer, the study of Scripture, listening to and with one another, and a dedication to partnership in the midst of our diversity of opinion.
We trust that God whose Word brought Creation into being is also the same Word that speaks to us today. With confidence, we believe that God calls the Church into living as a transformative community that embraces the call to be God’s beloved community in the world.
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
The Reverend Larissa Kwong Abazia Vice Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
Monday, March 9, 2015
In this difficult season in the Presbyterian Church (USA), may we be reminded of the grace we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord. This definition of "grace" comes from Frederick Buechner's Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC:
After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn nobody's much interested anymore. Not so with grace, for some reason. Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.
Grace is something you can never get but only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.
A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?
A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There's nothing
you have to do. There's nothing you
have to do. There's nothing you have to do.
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.
There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it.
Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
The note is forwarded from Hunter Farrell, the Director of Presbyterian World Mission and copied from his Facebook post:
Message from the General Secretary of the Synod of the Nile, founded by Presbyterian missionaries a century ago and now the largest Protestant church in the Middle East:
The Church in Egypt has passed through very difficult circumstances this week, when the terrorist group ISIS slaughtered 21 Christian Egyptians in Libya. They were young people, who went to Libya to look for work. They were slaughtered while they were saying, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom: All the Egyptian churches were involved together in setting up special prayers for the victims' families.
The Church in Egypt appreciates the role played by the state in these circumstances. The President of the Republic went to the Orthodox Church in order to bring consolation. Also, all government and Islamic authorities participated in the condolences, and denounced the terrorist act.
The Church felt grateful to the President, who went to the Orthodox Church for consolation. The Church supports the rapid reaction of the government, which is represented in the air strikes against the terrorist group.
We thank all our brothers and sisters all over the world, who participated with the Egyptian Church in these circumstances, in writing condolences or in prayer. We pray that the Lord blesses and preserves Egypt, and makes the Church in Egypt, a witness to the Lord in this region.
Rev. Refat Fathy
Rev. Refat Fathy
Thursday, February 12, 2015
I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book: The Presbyterian Mission Enterprise: From Heathen to Partner. My book is now available for purchase at wipfandstock.com.
American Presbyterians have a remarkable heritage of foreign mission work. While today the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Church and all of mainline Protestantism is in a time of reformation and deep change, it is vital to remember this heritage of world mission. The Presbyterian Mission Enterprise tells this story by highlighting significant mission leaders through the ages. Our story includes Francis Makemie, a colonial-era missionary pastor and church planter who gathered with colleagues to form the first Presbytery in 1706. Tough, old-school Presbyterians like Ashbel Green insisted on a distinctive Presbyterian mission effort, and Presbyterians were among those who heard the call exemplified by William Carey to take the gospel to the whole world. This vision beckoned Walter Lowrie into leadership, and Presbyterians joined the great missionary movement. Robert Speer was a driving force behind this growing movement, negotiating a moderate path through bitter conflicts. After the traumas of World War II, John Coventry Smith worked to reconfigure and redirect the mission enterprise. Now, in an era marked by fragmentation and realignment, leaders like Clifton Kirkpatrick and Hunter Farrell work to continue the Presbyterian mission enterprise as a vital piece of the way forward. Our heritage guides our future.