(PNS) “Theological Conversations”—a series of papers designed to invite congregational leaders in the PC(USA) into theological conversation wherever they gather as sessions, presbyteries or for adult education in congregations—began as a way to create space for conversations accessible to all church members. Each paper is a study resource with accompanying questions for conversation or reflection, suitable for use by both individuals and groups.
This year constitutes a milestone for the series in the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Each 2017 conversation will focus on the question “As Presbyterians, what gifts from the Reformation do we have that we can bring forward in the next 500 years, for the sake of the church and the world?”
The latest paper, “Words Matter” was written by the Rev. Mary Beth Anton, a PC(USA) pastor in the Presbytery of Tres Rios. Anton, a graduate of Concordia University Irvine and Princeton Theological Seminary, has served in small, medium and large congregations, and as a day school chaplain. Her most recent position was as administrative pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Midland, Texas.
In her paper, Anton maintains that the Reformers took words very seriously because they took the accessibility of the Word seriously.
“Words matter for Presbyterian Christians, and Anton helps us understand why that is the case,” said the Rev. Michelle J. Bartel, Ph.D., coordinator of Theological Education and Seminary Relations for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, who oversees the “Theological Conversations” series. “If words can be used in a sloppy or vicious way, they can also be used to love, heal and communicate God’s love. This is a gift of the Reformed tradition that we don’t often highlight.”
Anton’s paper and others released in the 2017 and previous years’ series are available as free downloads on the “Theological Conversations” webpage. The 2017 series will include one paper written in Spanish and one in Korean.