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A Moment of Grace

God has given the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) a moment of grace to dream new dreams, to see new visions, to lay aside the weapons of warfare, and to rethink mission and strategy on a truly grand scale.

At the end of a quarter century of nearly continuous contentiousness, it is as if a boil has been lanced, followed by an experience of relief, a weary contingent of God’s people wanting to move beyond the trenches that divided and to move forward into a future of obedience and service.


The signs of the time are the resolution, for now, of the constitutional status of ordination standards despite ongoing judicial interpretation; the highly significant work of a special task force exploring what divides us; an experienced, competent management team in Louisville which now is absolutely serious about prioritizing mission done through the General Assembly; a special national $40 million drive to support church development and international mission; the record of a competent General Assembly which knew what had to be done — and did it — exhibiting prudence and wisdom.

We’re not out of the desert of wandering yet, but at least some are able to see a new possibility for being the PC(USA) and acting on the assumption that God will, in fact, reinvent us.

God should be the point of focus for all of us right now — all the time, but especially right now: What does God want us to be and to do — together — and what must we do to be obedient to that summons?

It will be important for as many Presbyterians as possible to give serious time and attention to the status and condition of their church — as a whole and in all of its parts. Our system has many centers of power and initiative, all, of course, ultimately under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. They include each congregation and its session, presbyteries, synods, the General Assembly and its agencies, church-related colleges and universities, campus ministries, theological institutions, camps and conference centers, unofficial groups organized to pursue particular purposes, ecumenical partners at all levels related to us in many different ways, and others.

It is a very complex picture — all the parts and how they fit together, and how they can be fitted together by God to offer our humble and obedient service to God and the world.

As in other situations where disharmony and estrangement have become persisting conditions, movement forward will require that each Presbyterian, each official and unofficial organized group, begin now thinking first of God’s will for the church and the world, and then how each individual and group can be a part of the larger vision.

No longer can we even presume that some group somewhere can tell us what that vision is, or what our goals should be, but in this new age of decentralization and somewhat looser ties, and with these few moments of God-given peace, together we have an opportunity to allow a powerful mission vision to begin to evolve churchwide.

Communication is critical and, with all humility, that’s why an institution such as The Presbyterian Outlook, and other sources of Presbyterian news and information, are so important. Keeping people informed of what their church — in its larger embodiment — is doing and what that means for each part.

What is being said here is that God is already at work in the reshaping of us. The signs are everywhere for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. And through the eyes of faith, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, we are called NOW to discern that work and to be a part of it.

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