PORTLAND, Ore. – Commissioners, delegates, mid council leaders and guests honored Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at a General Assembly dinner banquet on Wednesday, June 22.
The event began with words from Thomas Hay, director for assembly operations: “Gradye has always been a man that is about the future and who and what this church is going to be in the future. While Gradye is a historian at heart, his heart is not in the history of what the church has been but in is passion for what the church will be.”
Hay introduced Parsons’ family members: wife Kathy Parsons, son Josh (and wife Rachel Dobbs) Parsons, daughter Rachel (and husband Jacob) Parsons-Wells, and grandson Dylan.
Sharon Youngs, pastor and former communications director of the Office of the General Assembly (OGA), offered reflections. Among them was a remembrance from Parsons’ days at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. “He served as a church janitor. He didn’t know it then, but his skill at cleaning up messes would come in handy.”
A video shared quick feedback from colleagues and leaders across the denomination. Among them, Conrad Rocha, stated clerk of the Synod of the Southwest, said, “He knows when to speak for the chuck, and when not to speak for the church.”
Parsons, accompanied by grandson Dylan, rose to the podium and offered brief remarks punctuated by his opening words, “Just don’t give up on this church. Don’t!” A rousing round of applause arose from the thousand-plus attendees.