Sweet hour of prayer, Confronted with another G-6.0106b amendment, presbytery executives gather to seek wisdom, encouragement from God

SAN JOSE — When the 218th General Assembly voted to send out a proposed amendment to presbyteries to delete the “fidelity and chastity” ordination standard and replace it with a new version, a handful of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)‚s executive presbyters felt a need to gather for prayer.

They ran a simple invitation through a photocopier and distributed it among the executives present. With two hours notice, more than 70 presbytery executives showed up. “We obviously tapped a deep need to gather for our churches, members, pastors, ourselves, and the General Assembly,” said the Rev. Barbara “Bobbie” White, executive for the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. “Our prayer was simple: that the Lord will give us wisdom.”

The Rev. Graham Hart of Peace River Presbytery said the ad hoc group “gathered out of a deep love for the church and for our congregations. We know that some will rejoice and others will feel like the church is fractured. There is a real hunger among us to come together for support and encouragement because [executive presbyter service] is lonely work.”

The Rev. Joey Lee, newly elected executive presbyter for San Jose Presbytery, said the ability to lead in the church is “heavily dependent on our need and desire to pray.” The group of gathered leaders “are well aware of our responsibility” we’re leaders, not middle-management and what we need is not more books on effective management but to be grounded in our spiritual core.”

“Our people will trust us if we’re willing to show them that,” he said.

The prayer gathering, said the Rev. Steve Shussett, “was not for simple prayer but for honest reaction to what we’re facing back home — it was confessional prayer, a human response to stormy times.”

In gathering for prayer together, added the Rev. Paul Reiter of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, “we were trying to keep our eyes focused on Christ, like our preacher [the Rev. Diane Givens-Moffett] said today in her sermon about Jesus in the boat, some certainly feel like they’re sinking.”

“I felt less anxious after praying together,” Lee said. “The situation calls for surrender to the Lord,” Hart added.

“We’re okay,” said Lee.