The formation of both groups grew out of recommendations to the assembly by the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns. Both have mandates related to a 21st-century PC(USA) seeking the most faithful and effective way to do mission and ministry in the midst of “an increasingly diverse and culturally rich membership.” Both are also expected to bring reports to the next General Assembly in 2012.
The Nature of the Church for the 21st Century
Bolbach named eleven persons to the Special Committee to Study the Nature of the Church for the 21st Century. According to the assembly’s action, “The intent of this study shall be to seek to increase understanding of the church from a Reformed and Presbyterian perspective and assist current and new members in forming faithful plans for our common future.”
Named to the committee:
SanDawna Gaulman Ashley (Chicago Presbytery), pastor of Morgan Park Church in Chicago. Gaulman was a pastor previously in Pennsylvania and Delaware. She has served on numerous presbytery committees, as well as the General Assembly Reforming Ministry task force.
Louise Davidson (Scioto Valley Presbytery), elder, and member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, and Advocacy Committee on Women’s Concerns representative on the committee. Davidson has served Presbyterian Women (PW) from the local to the national level, including coordinating PW’s presence at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She was a commissioner to the 211th General Assembly (1999).
Michael East, elder, (Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery), an inquirer under care of the presbytery and the Office of the General Assembly’s representative to the committee. A student at Columbia Theological Seminary, East has served in several capacities at the presbytery level. He was a young adult advisory delegate (YAAD) to the 219th General Assembly (2010) and was elected co-moderator of the YAAD caucus.
Carol Howard Merritt (National Capital Presbytery), associate pastor of Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Merritt has served pastorates in Rhode Island and Louisiana. She is the author of Tribal Church and Reframing Hope, a blogger for Huffington Post and TribalChurch.org, and co-host of the podcast, God Complex Radio.
Kristy Lauron (Stockton Presbytery), a deacon and youth member of Trinity Church in Stockton, Calif. Lauron serves on the General Assembly Youth Ministry Task Force and attended the 2010 Presbyterian Youth Triennium. She has also been the youth representative for the Ethnic Concerns Committee.
Joseph Lemuel Morrow (Chicago Presbytery), elder, and member of Edgewater Church in Chicago. Morrow is a student at North Park Theological Seminary. His commitment to missional engagement has led him to pursue additional professional and continuing education in evangelical, interfaith, and international contexts.
Richard Pak (Chicago Presbytery), deacon, and member of Lake View Church in Chicago. A graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary, Pak is seeking ordination to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament. He is a Bible study, worship, and conference leader and served on the planning team for the 2010 Peacemaking Conference.
Kevin Park (Newark Presbytery), associate for theology in the Office of Theology and Worship (TAW), General Assembly Mission Council, and TAW’s representative to the committee. Park has been a pastor in New Jersey, adjunct faculty member at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and assistant director of the Asian American Program at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Cynthia Holder Rich (Lake Michigan Presbytery), engaged in interim ministry in Michigan and Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns’ representative to the committee. Rich has been a pastor, mission coworker, seminary faculty member in the U.S. and Madagascar, and a consultant in conferences and initiatives on race and the church and ecumenical relations.
Stephanie Sorge Wing (Transylvania Presbytery), co-pastor of United Presbyterian Church, Harrodsburg, Ky. Wing coordinated the 2008 Montreat Conference Center summer worship series and has co-authored studies for The Present Word. She is a member of the Company of New Pastors and The Young Clergy Women Project.
Raafat Zaki (Grace Presbytery), transitional synod executive for the Synod of the Covenant and Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy’s representative to the committee. He has served congregations in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, as General Assembly staff in Churchwide Personnel Services and World Mission, and as a director with Habitat for Humanity International.
Staffing the committee for the Office of the General Assembly is Tony Aja, coordinator for Hispanic/Latino ministries for Mid-Kentucky Presbytery.
Racial Ethnic and New Immigrant Church Growth
Bolbach appointed nine members to the Task Force to Study Racial Ethnic and New Immigrant Church Growth. The assembly has asked the task force to look at not only why the PC(USA) did not meet its goal set in 1998 to have 20 percent racial ethnic and new immigrant membership by 2010, but to revisit the 1998 goal and “determine what the call to the church is now, that we as a church might become a reflection of Jesus in the world.”
In addition, the task force will identify presbyteries and synods that are “responding to demographic change in effective and faithful ways, and collect modes of new church development and transformation that can work in other contexts.” The group will also look at what General Assembly resources are needed to support these middle governing body efforts.
Named to the task force:
Mario Bolaños (Riverside Presbytery), a deacon, and member of First Church of San Bernardino, Calif. Bolaños is active in First Church’s food ministry and the mission committee. He is a member of the presbytery’s Hispanic mission task force and has assisted in disaster assistance efforts in New Orleans.
Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow (Chicago Presbytery), member of Edgewater Church in Chicago. Choi-Morrow has served on planning committees and staffed conferences with McCormick Theological Seminary’s Common Ground Project. A McCormick graduate, she works as a community organizer for the Asian American community in Chicago.
Sandra C.R. Freier (Central Florida Presbytery), elder, and member of New Hope Church, Ocoee. Fla. Freier also serves as social action ministry coordinator and leader of the Brazilian Day at New Hope. A graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, she is a member of the immigration task force of Central Florida Presbytery.
Ann Kelson (Great Rivers Presbytery), elder, and member of First Church, Springfield, Ill. Kelson serves as moderator of the presbytery and liaison to immigrants. She focuses on the integration of French-speaking West Africans into congregations and communities in western Illinois. Kelson is also a member of the permanent judicial commission of the Synod of Lincoln Trails and was a commissioner to the 218th General Assembly (2008).
Mary Newbern-Williams (John Calvin Presbytery), designated pastor of the Cote Brilliante Church in St. Louis. Her immediate past position was as general presbyter for John Calvin Presbytery. She has served congregations in California, as well as presbyteries and the General Assembly Mission Council.
Eddie L. Knox Jr. (Chicago Presbytery), pastor of Pullman Church in Chicago. Knox has served on various presbytery committees as a member or moderator. He has been the moderator of Chicago Presbytery, as well as the Synod of Lincoln Trails. He is a trustee of McCormick Theological Seminary and active in community endeavors.
Julia Schaeffer (National Capital Presbytery), elder, and member of Silver Spring Church in Silver Spring, Md. In addition to serving on a number of congregational committees, Schaeffer has been a member of the presbytery’s committee on ministry, the pastoral vacancy subcommittee, and as the sexual misconduct response coordinating team. She was a commissioner to the 210th General Assembly (1998).
Reginald Tuggle (Long Island Presbytery), pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt, N.Y. Tuggle is the president of two non-profit organizations; one focusing on economic development and the other, youth services. He is past moderator of the Long Island Presbytery, has served on many synod and presbytery committees, and has been a commissioner to the General Assembly.
Perry Wootten (New York City Presbytery), pastor of a multicultural church in Bronx, N.Y. Previously, Wootten worked in international banking and lived in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Guam, Thailand, and the Soviet Union. He has served in a number of capacities for the presbytery, including moderator, trustee, general council, committee on ministry, evangelism committee, and witness and society in the world.
Staffing the task force is Sterling Morse, coordinator for Cross Cultural Ministries and Congregational Support in the Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women area for the General Assembly Mission Council.
SHARON YOUNGS is communications coordinator for the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly in Louisville, Ky.