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Promoting congregational vitality

Landon Whitsitt, executive of the Synod of Mid-America, plays the crowd to help unveil and promote his new training tool, Theocademy. The resource will focus on training ruling elders and deacons. (Photo by Erin Dunigan)
Landon Whitsitt,
executive of the Synod
of Mid-America, plays the
crowd to help unveil and
promote his new training
tool, Theocademy. The resource
will focus on training
ruling elders and deacons. (Photo by Erin Dunigan)

Among the 16 committees working within the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Committee on Congregational Vitality had much to celebrate in their meetings.

The Women of Faith Awards honored ruling elders Joanie Lukins and Helen Morrison, and teaching elder Joyce Shin. These awards were established in 1986 to honor women whose lives exemplify their Christian commitment.

The committee announced the five recipients of the 2013 and 2014 Sam and Helen R. Walton Awards, made possible by a gift made in 1991 by Sam and Helen Walton through the Presbyterian Foundation to be used for new church developments.

The denomination’s “Educate a Child/Transform the World” program was showcased. It has set a goal of educating one million children in the U.S. and worldwide over the next four years. “Education is the gateway out of poverty and it transforms lives,” said Veronica Cannon, committee vice moderator and a teaching elder commissioner from Charlotte.

The Racial Ethnic & New Immigrant Church Growth Consultation Committee recommended that congregations, mid councils and seminaries provide ongoing support to the development of culturally sensitive curriculum, ministry training programs and translation into multiple languages.

The Evangelism and Church Growth office recommended directing presbyteries to be a part of initiating new worshipping communities and inviting traditional congregations to be a part of this movement within their regions through the 1001 New Worshipping Communities initiative.

“We are trying to pay attention to the Holy Spirit. 1001 challenges existing congregations to engage creatively. We need both [old and new communities],” says Steve Yamaguchi, presbytery executive and soon-to-be dean of students at Fuller Theological Seminary.

All the recommendations were approved by the assembly.

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