General Assembly backgrounder: congregational vitality

Three initiatives aimed at unifying Presbyterians around ambitious goals in mission and evangelism will receive docket time at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) when it meets June 14–21 in Detroit.

The Assembly Committee on Congregational Vitality will hear a progress report (14-01) on a movement to organize 1,001 new worshiping communities in the PC(USA) in the next decade. Formally launched at the 120th General Assembly (2012), the 1,001 initiative has facilitated the organization of at least 235 new worshiping communities in 89 presbyteries to date.

To keep the momentum going, the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) board is offering several recommendations. One of them encourages church sessions to pray daily at 10:02 a.m. the words from Luke 10:2 asking God to send more laborers into the harvest field. Another encourages each presbytery to start at least one new worshiping community in the next two years.

PMA is also seeking the Assembly’s endorsement for two new churchwide initiatives:

  • “Educate a Child, Transform the World” (14-02) aims to involve Presbyterians at every level in efforts to improve the quality of education for one million children in the United States and around the world over the next four years. The initiative builds on a longstanding Presbyterian commitment to transforming society by providing access to quality education. It seeks to address “the root causes of poverty, particularly as they impact women and children”—a priority focus of the PMA.
  • “Living Missionally” (14-03) seeks to “inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians to continue to go beyond the walls of their congregations and increase their engagement in service to their communities and the world.” Building on the conviction that “doing mission is central to what it means to be the church,” the initiative proposes a goal of engaging at least 1,000 congregations a year in volunteer service and mission endeavors at home and around the world.

The Assembly’s Committee on Congregational Vitality will also consider recommendations (14-04) aimed at supporting the growth of multicultural, racial ethnic, and new immigrant fellowships and congregations in the PC(USA). The recommendations grew out of a national consultation on racial ethnic and new immigrant church growth mandated by the 220th General Assembly (2012).

These and other issues will be considered by Assembly Committee 14 — Congregational Vitality. Eva Stimson, a freelance writer and editor in Louisville, will cover Assembly Committee 14 for the General Assembly Communication Center.