Here we go: The first team to stand for co-moderators of the 2018 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has emerged.
Eliana Maxim, associate executive presbyter of Seattle Presbytery and a vice moderator of the Way Forward Commission, announced on Facebook and Twitter Dec. 3 that she will stand for co-moderator along with Bertram Johnson, who is minister of justice, advocacy and change at Riverside Church in New York.
Both are PC(USA) ministers and people of color. Maxim has served as vice moderator of the PC(USA)’s National Hispanic/Latino Presbyterian Caucus.
Maxim said Seattle Presbytery has endorsed her to stand for co-moderator. She said Johnson is a member of the Presbytery of New York City, which will consider his request for endorsement when it meets in January.
Johnson, who is 47, earned a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in 2014; Maxim earned the same degree from Seattle University and was ordained in 2011.
Raised Baptist, Johnson graduated from the University of Florida and became a Presbyterian after volunteering with youth ministry through Young Life.
Johnson, who is gay, graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1996 and earned a master in social work degree in 1997 from Rutgers University, at a time when the PC(USA) was deeply conflicted about whether to ordain gays and lesbians who were not celibate. He described his journey towards ordination in this 2015 sermon given at a regional conference of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians.
For a time, Johnson withdrew from the ordination process, working as an oncology chaplain; directing spiritual and practical care for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as working in HIV education research; and working in regional theatre in the Pacific Northwest.
He is a member of the NEXT Church Leadership Team and has served on the General Assembly Nominating Committee.
Maxim, a native of Colombia, emigrated with her parents to Los Angeles as a child, and earned an undergraduate degree in communications from Loyola Marymount University. She worked as a news producer until her family moved to Seattle; then she became director of children and family ministries at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church from 1996 to 2010.
Maxim was raised Roman Catholic, but became Presbyterian and has served the church at the national level, including as a member of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly; on the Presbyterian Mission Agency review committee; and on the Committee on the Belhar Confession created by the 2012 General Assembly.
Maxim, 56, is married to Alex Maxim; they are the parents of young adult children.
The 2018 General Assembly will meet June 16-23 in St. Louis.