After that edition went to print, Julia Leeth emerged as a sixth candidate for the office. We posed the same questions to her, to which she quickly responded.
TPO: In your opinion, what is the most significant matter to come before this General Assembly, and how do you propose that the Assembly respond to it?
JL: The most significant issue coming to General Assembly is the discussion around the definition of marriage. People are divided as to whether to maintain the traditional understanding of marriage or broaden it to include same-gender union.
I pray the Assembly maintains the traditional definition of marriage as supported by the Bible, the Book of Order, and The Confessions. Having said that, there are certainly social justice issues around same-gender unions that we must wrestle to address. God has called us to covenant community and we are to walk with each other. We want to be caring and respectful of each other’s positions, but we must be careful to not redefine what God has established.
TPO: What do you believe are the causes of conflict in the PC(USA), and what do you hope this General Assembly will do to help bring resolution?
JL: In our denomination, we find a tension between Biblical authority and social justice. There is a movement away from a historical understanding of many issues and the PC(USA) is divided as to whether that movement should be embraced. Limited resources and competing interests make this conflict inevitable. Scripture should inform our lives and the way that we interact with one another but there is much debate over how those Christian truths are portrayed in light of our faith.
I hope the General Assembly and the Christian community will refocus on God’s Word today so that we might gain insight about how to love (one) another in the midst of conflict, how to stand on God’s Word and care for people, and how to bring God’s grace and truth to those who need it. I hope that we will reaffirm our heritage and reclaim our future.
TPO: In your opinion, what is the most urgent need in the PC (USA) over the next five years?
JL: Sadly, the world sees the Church as irrelevant. They have heard of Jesus but can’t distinguish why He makes any difference. Our identity is found in whose we are and everything we do should be motivated by the love shown for us on the Cross. We have a great task and must be faithful. We have the ministry of reconciliation so we do commit ourselves to reconciling people to one another and to Jesus Christ. That reconciliation may even start with us!
The PC(USA) must reach out in a tangible way to meet those in the world. It is essential to recommit ourselves afresh to make disciples of Jesus Christ through the Word, prayer, and mission. We must care for the poor, give hope to the hopeless, love the unlovable, and preach the Good News in word and deed. Jesus Christ and our Church can again be relevant to all.
TPO: What are your goals for your moderatorial years, and what strengths do you bring to the task?
JL: My goals for the moderatorial years are to be prayerful, helpful and faithful. First, I want to be a woman of prayer — for wise leadership, for the churches, and ministries. Another goal is to be helpful to the churches and denomination. As I have fostered relationships in my presbytery with those who have different theological perspectives, I will continue to build relationships. Through our relationships, we can see the wonderful things that God is doing in and through His people. Through our common ministries, we can evangelize to the World by the love we show. Last, I strive to be a faithful witness of Jesus Christ, glorifying God in all the challenges and successes I find. I want to be faithful as a practitioner of reconciliation as Christ was in the world reconciling humanity to God. May God’s will be done and may He work through the leaders He calls.