At the same time I heard the voice of my own inner angst: I’m an original baby-boomer, birth class of 1946, and I’ve been struggling for my entire ministry to wrestle away control of content and structure from the two generations ahead of me. God knows I’ve tried, and continue to do so.
At the meeting of my colleagues, I learned that well more than a million dollars are flying away from our particular governing body food chain in 2009. The Presbytery of Charlotte needs to cut its honed 2009 budget by at least $300,000. Denial prevails as anxiety runs rampant. All run to protect themselves. Common sense (wisdom) gives way to utter despair that our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) connections can be modernized.
What does the PC(USA), in all its expressions, need to do? Witness Jesus Christ to all the world and make disciples in healthy congregations.
In these times when much needed, much dreaded, discontinuous change is being forced upon the PC(USA) by economic free fall, what could the PC(USA) intentionally do to thrive in the present and position our denomination for God’s future?
1. Merge the OGA and the GAC into National Ministry and Mission by January 1, 2011. Co-leaders: Grady and Linda.
2. Create a corporation for Presbyterian International Mission by January 1, 2011.
3. Eliminate Synods as a governing body in all vestiges as soon as appropriate but no later than Jan. 1, 2012.
4. Encourage presbyteries to cooperate and coordinate resources, staff, and services to congregations in whatever partnerships are appropriate and effective.
5. Fund National Ministry and Mission by a $10 per capita and designated contributions from presbyteries, congregations, and individuals, with a 10% administrative fee.
6. Fund International Missions by designated contributions from presbyteries, congregations, and individuals with a 10% administrative fee.
7. Fund presbyteries by designated contributions from congregations and individuals with a 10% administrative fee.
8. Encourage presbyteries to nurture and support all congregations who seek to witness Jesus Christ to all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ in healthy congregations.
These eight proposals, calling for fewer moving parts and more nimble, flexible options, produce creative and exciting change, even if chaotic. Effectiveness and efficiency are positive by-products.
These proposals will also land us somewhere near where we are headed, except a few years earlier, accompanied by rising energy and zeal instead of the regrets of a venerable old organization dying badly.
There will be daring and faithful ways ahead. God will lead us!
Samuel E. Roberson is general presbyter/stated clerk for the Presbytery of Charlotte (N.C.).