LOUISVILLE (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 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, “Three Fulcrums for Reform” was written by the Rev. Tom Trinidad, Ph.D., pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, where he lives with his wife, Kyndra, and their two children.
Trinidad notes that even the Glory to God hymnal is organized in three main sections with the first, “God’s Mighty Acts” and the third, “Our Response to God,” creating the theological structure for the middle section, “The Church at Worship.” He is passionate about sacramental celebration and worship.
“Sometimes I think we’re surprised at change in the church,” 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. “Especially in retrospect, it seems clear which was the ‘good’ side and which was the ‘bad’ side in a period of church reform. So I really appreciate the way that Tom Trinidad helps us understand that change is a constant for the church: we are reformed, ever being reformed, according to the word of God. But change isn’t the only constant. If the church is God’s people that are called to gather with each other, then the three points he mentions of liturgy, theology and sacramental celebration are always going to be points of both constancy and change. These things are embedded in how we, as a people, act and worship God.”
In his work with the PC(USA) Sacraments Study Group, Trinidad helped produce “Invitation to Christ: A Guide to Sacramental Practices.” He has served as a consultant for the new Directory for Worship, the Book of Common Prayerand the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA), as well as vice-moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012). He currently serves on the PC(USA)’s Committee on Theological Education (COTE) and the Pueblo Presbytery’s Committee on Preparation for Ministry and Judicial Council.
Trinidad’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.
by Emily Enders Odom and Tammy Warren, Presbyterian News Service