Welcome to the 221st conversation as a whole church gathered as commissioners this time in Detroit, Mich. This conversation has some legs on it. It began in 1706 when a few folk got together to form the first presbytery. It picked up some energy when the newly formed General Assembly met for the first time in 1789.
This conversation has been heated at times. It has been full of passion and sincere disagreements. This conversation also launched a fifty-state church that also spread the Gospel around the world. It started schools, colleges, hospitals, and community centers.
The conversation reached outside our church and connected with other denominations to form great ecumenical movements. Justice was often the nature of the conversation. From 1789 to today the conversation has pushed the church to create a world more like the Kingdom of God.
The Confession of 1967 says: “The church gathers to praise God, to hear his word for mankind, to baptize and to join in the Lord’s Supper, to pray for and present the world to him in worship, to enjoy fellowship, to receive instruction, strength, and comfort, to order and to organize its own corporate life, to be tested, renewed, and reformed, and to speak and act in the world’s affairs as may be appropriate to the needs of the time (Book of Confessions, 9.36).
That sounds like we will be busy! But this is a busy church and we have much to be busy about. Christ is out there calling us to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the prisoner, and share the incredible Good News that God loves us. We need to discern our part, our passion, and our purpose.
Will you add to the conversation? Will you listen as others share their hopes? Will you lift up voices of those who are silenced?
Sisters and brothers we have much to discuss. Let this chapter of the conversation begin.
By Gradye Parsons