CHICAGO – “We have moved from storytelling to sound bites,” said Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly, speaking to a small group during an open discussion time at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) conference in Chicago on Jan. 28. Rada said that educators (and the Presbyterian Church as a whole) need to become better communicators and update their methodology for teaching others about the faith.
During a day packed with worship, a plenary session led by Lillian Daniel, a bustling exhibit hall, an award’s luncheon, workshops and networking opportunities, APCE participants had many opportunities to consider new ways to join in God’s ministry of education. Here are a few sound bites from the day:
- “We are at an opportunity in the church’s history where we can try to be Christianity without power,” said Lillian Daniel during morning worship. She encouraged participants to leave APCE and go out to do the work of the church. “What does it mean that God is doing a new thing and that you could be a vessel and be a part of it?”
- “I believe education … has something to say and something to do,” said Lloyd Peitzman after being awarded the APCE lifetime achievement award.
- “The challenge is we have to realize a lot of the changes that are taking place in the culture,” said Beth Hayes, APCE educator of the year. She said Christian educators have to adapt – not throw out the old, but to “make it new in new ways” to meet the needs of those they encounter.
- “I anticipate two hot button issues,” said Rada when describing his anticipation for the 222nd GA meeting this summer in Portland, Oregon: divestment from fossil fuels and the work of “the way forward” committee (which will include overtures on denominational structure from Foothills Presbytery and the possibility of a merger between the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly).
- “No group can change the church as effectively as Presbyterian communicators can,” said Rada. He went on to encourage educators to become “politically savvy and active,” urging them to become commissioners to GA, stand for moderator, become involved in decision making at the GA level to help transform the Presbyterian Church.