The 2020 Vision Team has approved its draft guiding statement and its report to the 2018 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
That guiding statement is built around five words tied to the PC(USA) acronym, saying that God is calling the PC(USA) to be:
And it’s called a “draft guiding statement,” even though the Vision Team is sending it to the General Assembly, because the team wants Presbyterians to interact with and respond to the ideas in the statement over the next two years.
The Vision Team will keep working until the 2020 General Assembly. And it is asking the 2018 General Assembly to forward the draft guiding statement to the denomination for study and comment.
Team member DèAnn Cunningham, an elder from Charlotte, North Carolina, spoke during the team’s conference call Feb. 15 of a “living document.”
The 2016 General Assembly created the Vision Team, instructing it to develop a “guiding statement for the denomination and make a plan for its implementation with all deliberate speed.”
In doing its work, the Vision Team turned to Scripture, foundational documents of the denomination such as the Six Great Ends of the Church, from the PC(USA) constitution; previous General Assembly reports, including “When We Gather at the Table” from 2016; ideas from team members; and “above all – the Holy Spirit,” the report states. Part of the team’s work has been to listen to the church – for themes, concerns and joys – and to reflect back what the team is hearing in the draft guiding statement and with resources that Presbyterians can use.
In its report, the Vision Team described its attempts to listen to people both inside and outside the PC(USA), saying that “in the faithful desire to discern the will of God we listened throughout the denomination and beyond, hearing hope and frustration, expectation and anxiety.”
The report describes some themes that emerged from the listening sessions. Those were:
- Continuing commitment to and appreciation of the PC(USA) emphasis on thoughtful, disciplined engagement with Scripture.
- A sense of an urgent need to address issues such as racism, poverty, income inequality, climate change, domestic violence and human rights.
- Growing excitement about new ways of doing and being church.
- A longing for connectionalism based in community rather than bureaucracy.
- A desire to maintain, deepen and expand ties to the global church.
- Fear about what shifts in religious culture and decline in church attendance and participation will mean for the future of the PC(USA).
- Frustration with systemic and structural barriers to adaptive change that will enable the church to meet the challenges ahead.
- Anxiety about finances at the congregational, mid council and General Assembly level.
- A sense that a need to name this moment and articulate a vision for moving forward.
The report states that the Vision Team “recognizes the PC(USA) is at a turning point,” and hopes the draft guiding statement can be used to challenge the church to move forward “in new, imaginative and Spirit-filled ways.”
Following this summer’s assembly, the team intends to keep listening – holding listening sessions and providing materials that Presbyterians can use to interact with the draft statement.
The Vision Team approved its report by vote conducted by email Feb. 16.
Here is the text of the 2020 Vision Team’s report: 2020 Vision Team Report to the 2018 General Assembly