The church of now

The General Assembly committee I have been a part of for my first days at GA (Social Justice Issues) concluded its work on Tuesday and celebrated by worshipping together and sharing Holy Communion. The work we did was challenging, and I believe that we did our best to hear one another as well as to listen to the Holy Spirit during our deliberations.

At the risk of sounding smug, I was proud of the way our committee conducted our business, but I am particularly proud of the way our Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs) contributed to the proceedings.

Some of our committee YAADs: Maria DiChiara (left, blue sweatshirt); Davis Crocker (center, pink shirt), Miguel Rosa Morales (right, beige t-shirt)
Some of our committee YAADs: Maria DiChiara (left, blue sweatshirt); Davis Crocker (center, pink shirt), Miguel Rosa Morales (right, beige t-shirt)

Would it be sinful to say that I think the YAADs serving our committee were the best in the 222nd General Assembly? If so, I’ll just sin boldly, and count on the fact that grace will abound.

You see, the YAADs, and the Theological School Advisory Delegates (TSADs) in our committee contributed substantively to our work. Their fingerprints are all over the responses to some of the most challenging overtures that we dealt with during our time together.

We actually cheered at one point when one of our YAADs successfully got an amendment added to one of the more lengthy resolutions we were re-working. And it wasn’t a condescending, “isn’t-he-cute” kind of cheer. Our committee actually wanted him to be part of history.

I congratulated one of our YAADs after we adjourned today and she told me that some of her friends had sadly reported to her that they weren’t treated with the same kind of joy and respect for their contributions. I did, in fact, read some tweets on my Twitter feed that backed up her friends’ stories.

In a denomination that is aging rapidly – full of churches that are not only small, but also very, very grey – it seems to me that we shouldn’t be telling young people who are trying desperately to be a part of it all that they need to wait their turn.

I know I speak for scores of Presbyterians – both here in Portland and back home in the cities and towns of the churches we represent – when I say: Our young adults are not the church of the future, they are the church now. We need their energy, ideas and passion. We need their desire for a just and equitable society. We need their imagination and wonder.

I’m not getting any younger, to be sure. There’s a heck of a lot more gray in my beard than there used to be. But when I am around these young adults and seminary students and their love for Jesus and passions for the church, I feel a lot younger and a whole lot more hopeful.


Leon BloderLeon Bloder is a preacher, a poet, a would-be writer, a husband, a father, a son, a dreamer, a sinner, a pastor, a fellow-traveler and a failed artist. He is talentless, but well-connected.  He stumbles after Jesus, but hopes beyond hope that he is stumbling in the right direction.  Leon has been married to Merideth for 22 years, is the father of three awesome boys, and serves in ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Eustis in Eustis, Florida.