Outlook: In your opinion, what is the most significant matter coming before this General Assembly, and how do you propose that the assembly respond to it?
SDK: The most significant matter before the assembly will be, “How will we let the Holy Spirit influence our decisions and will we be brave enough to think creatively about solutions to the issues we face?” The particular issues will attract the most attention, but more important is the way we make decisions as a GA. After attending close to 20 assemblies, it is clear to me that in many cases commissioners arrive with their minds made up on the issues that have drawn the most attention before we meet. Between the lobbyists, the campaigning for one side or the other and the tension-filled atmosphere as the week goes on, it is hard to find the time and space for the discernment that needs to take place.
Outlook: 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?
SDK: There is a one-word answer to this question: “Sin.” As people for whom a part of our theological heritage is the truth that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” it begins and ends there. The particular sin for us may be allowing ourselves to become so focused on some parts of our life together that we lose sight of the big picture of being called to change lives because of who God is. Resolution? We need to decide what is essential to our life together, what is helpful to that life and in what we can allow for individual choice. In doing so, we continue to work for the balance of peace, unity and purity, a balance that is always difficult to maintain.
Outlook: In your opinion, what is the most urgent need in the PC(USA) over the next five years?
SDK: The most urgent need in the next few years is to encourage pastors, sessions and congregations to recognize the gifts they have been given and to use them to bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ. In many congregations and for many pastors, there is a feeling of despair and depression about what the future holds. We need ways to help leaders find their passion for ministry again and set them free to capitalize on their gifts for that ministry. This is not a time to be resigned to decline. Instead, it is a time to take a deep breath and to join God in being repairers of the breach.
Outlook: What are your goals for your moderatorial years, and what strengths do you bring to the task?
SDK: There are four tasks for a moderator.
» To moderate the assembly meeting in such a way that the commissioners arrive at the decisions to which God is leading them. Moderating meetings is one of my gifts, bringing background in procedure and process, as well as a commitment to letting all sides be heard.
» To appoint any commissions/committees assigned by the assembly. I served on the General Assembly Nominating Committee for five years; moderated it for two years. I am familiar with the process of finding/ calling people for the national level of the church.
» To be the figurehead of the denomination for two years. This is like the work that I do as a presbytery leader. I bring words of encouragement and congratulations from the broader church and provide information. I am accustomed to answering both predictable and unpredictable questions.
» To be part of national meetings at which decisions are being made. Having another voice at that table with experience from the middle — of the country, of the church structure, of “the road” — is a valuable contribution that I can make.