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Co-Moderators of the PC(USA)’s 225th General Assembly share their work and their hearts

The Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis and the Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace are the final guests for 2022 on ‘Leading Theologically.’

Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis (left) and the Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace (right). Photo by Rich Copley

(PNS) — “Leading Theologically” saved two of the best and insightful leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for its final broadcast in 2022.

On Friday, the guests of the Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty of the Presbyterian Foundation, who hosts the online broadcast every other week, were the Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly, the Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace and the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis. The topic was “The Theology of God’s Calling.” You can learn more about the Co-Moderators and their work here or here. Watch their half-hour conversation with Hinson-Hasty here or here.

The Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty

Hinson-Hasty led with questions he traditionally asks his guests: What is the work your soul must have, or what is the life story you celebrate today?

For Starling-Louis, it’s “engaging in the spaces I feel called to be at, in ways as loving and faithful and whole as possible.” As a Co-Moderator, the pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina said she feels “called to co-create and celebrate those spaces.”

“What brought us together [when they decided to stand together for the office of Co-Moderators] was this commitment to make right the broken spaces,” said Santana-Grace, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. She described her ministry as “trying not to let fear and anxiety define my actions, or the theology of scarcity limit our hopes.”

Hinson-Hasty said the “close kinship” between the two is readily apparent.

“God’s ability to gift us with each other is something I am incredibly grateful for,” Starling-Louis said.

The two discussed the care and prayer it took to appoint members to boards, committees and commissions established by the General Assembly. Starling-Louis said she has derived great joy in “watching people say yes to stepping into a sense of helping to co-create — knowing the way before us is just unknown, but that there are faithful steps we can take to listen to one another.” Those who have agreed to serve “are connecting with deep love and care for the Church. It is truly glorious.”

After Hinson-Hasty quoted Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Dr. Frances Taylor Gench — who likes to tell people looking for a little hope to visit a seminary campus — Santana-Grace noted that the Presbytery of Philadelphia and its churches “work with seminarians all the time,” including through an incubator the presbytery has established.

“I go to incubator meetings thinking I’m so tired,” she said, “and I come out of them saying, ‘thank you, Jesus.’ It’s extraordinary the theology of openness we’ve experienced.”

“The Spirit breaks in,” Santana-Grace said, “whether we want to receive it easily or not. Let’s give the Spirit its due.”

Santana-Grace said she often advises people to “find that little space where God is on the move and be part of that movement. Find out where you can join God on this journey.”

Hinson-Hasty reminded viewers that “this is not a paid position they are serving.” He thanked the Co-Moderators for “your openness and your willingness. Thank you for saying yes and for being a witness to what is possible, and for reminding us that the Holy Spirit is on the move.”

“What a gift that is!” he added. “It’s a little scary and a lot exciting.”

by Mike Ferguson, Presbyterian News Service