First team announces intention to stand for co-moderators of 2022 General Assembly


After a long period with a blank slate, a team of candidates has emerged to stand for co-moderators of the 2022 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Josefina Ahumada, a commissioned ruling elder from the Presbytery de Cristo, has announced that she plans to stand for co-moderator with Marilyn McKelvey Tucker-Marek, a minister from Flint River Presbytery.

Ahumada serves as moderator and pulpit supply at Papago United Presbyterian Church in Sells, Arizona, on the Tohono O’Odham Reservation. She recently completed a two-year term as moderator of Presbytery de Cristo, and serves as chair of the Hispanic Ministries Coordinating Committee of the Synod of the Southwest.

Josefina Ahumada. Photo provided.

Before her retirement, Ahumada served as the field education coordinator at the Tucson campus of the Arizona State University School of Social Work, where she mentored and taught students for two decades. She moved to Arizona after earning a graduate degree in social work from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Throughout her life, Ahumada has been deeply involved in community service and activism — with her contributions honored at the Women’s Plaza of Honor at the University of Arizona. In 2006, she helped start the Southside Workers Center for day laborers at Southside Presbyterian Church — initially, a safe place for day laborers to gather as they looked for employment, and, over time, becoming a place for advocacy and activism for immigrant workers.

Along with her late wife, Helen Battiste, Ahumada became a plaintiff in a 2014 lawsuit that struck down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage. Unable to legally marry in Arizona, Battiste and Ahumada had married in New Mexico — but after Battiste’s death, Ahumada learned she could not apply for Battiste’s death certificate because Arizona at the time did not recognize same-sex marriages.

In her 60s, Ahumada began training to become a commissioned ruling elder.

Marilyn McKelvey Tucker-Marek. Photo provided.

Tucker-Marek has served as pastor of Forsyth Presbyterian Church in central Georgia since 2014. A graduate of the University of Alabama, she earned a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, in 2014 and was ordained that year at First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Tucker-Marek is a former moderator of Flint River Presbytery and is pastor of the UKirk campus ministry at the Mercer University campus in Macon, Georgia — see a 2019 interview with her on that ministry here.

Here are the texts of emails the candidates sent to the Office of the General Assembly announcing their intention to stand for the office of co-moderator:

From Ahumada:
I am writing to inform you that I am planning to stand for co-moderator for the 2022 General Assembly together with the Rev. Marilyn McKelvey Tucker-Marek of Forsyth Presbyterian Church, Georgia.  

Currently, I serve as a Commissioned Ruling Elder in the Presbytery de Cristo serving as a moderator and pulpit supply at Papago United Presbyterian Church in Sells, Arizona on the Tohono O’Odham Reservation.

I recently completed a two-year term as moderator of the Presbytery de Cristo and currently serve in the Synod of the Southwest as the chair of the Hispanic Ministries Coordinating Committee.  

From Tucker-Marek:

Friends in Christ,

I am writing to announce my intention to stand for co-moderator of the 225th General Assembly of the PCUSA with Ruling Elder Josephina Ahumada of Presbytery de Cristo.

Since January 2020 I have been in prayerful discernment about this decision with the congregation I serve as solo pastor, Forsyth Presbyterian Church, the board of UKirk Campus Ministry at Mercer University where I serve as campus minister, and my friends and colleagues composing Flint River Presbytery, which nominated me to serve as our presbytery’s teaching elder commissioner to the 225th General Assembly in January 2022. Those who have entered into discernment with me have confirmed the sense of call I have experienced. Flint River Presbytery endorsed me to stand for co-moderator on August 7, 2021.

My sense of call to stand for co-moderator stems from: my deep commitment to our Presbyterian polity, including the shared responsibility of ruling and teaching elders to lead congregations and all councils of the church in faithfulness to God; my conviction that the gifts, wisdom, and experience of smaller congregations offer our denomination at large a vital voice as we continue to seek to live faithfully as Christ’s church in a world challenged by the continuation of the pandemic, yet another war, and a thirst for “justice which rolls down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24); and my desire to bear witness to the ways in which the worshiping communities of our denomination live out the great ends of the church, especially the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God and the promotion of social righteousness.

I humbly pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us as Josefina and I, and all of the commissioners to the 225th General Assembly, as we prepare to serve.

Grace and Peace,