A Czech Visitor Looks at the PC(USA)

Editors' note: Andrew Stehlik of the Czech Republic recently served a year as a mission-partner-in-residence with the PC(USA) Worldwide Ministries Division in Louisville. He wrote about his impressions of the PC(USA) in the Czech Working Group newsletter for July 2000. The working group, created by the General Assembly Council in 1995, works closely with the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren to improve and expand the relationships between the two churches.

The Gospel – Fixed or Dynamic?

Two years ago I spent a semester teaching Christian ethics at Gujranwala Theological Seminary in Pakistan. Participating in the life of the Christian community in a Muslim country -- faculty discussion with Pakistani professors and others sent by the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand or the United States, or one of the Korean churches; getting to know students, many of them women -- was a rich experience.

The Call to Nineveh

In many ways the response to the General Assembly's call for Unity in the Midst of Diversity conferences is like Jonah's response to God's call to go to Nineveh. He did not want to go, neither do many of us. From what little evidence is available, it seems safe to say only a small portion of our presbyteries are planning Unity in the Midst of Diversity conferences.

The Pathway to Partnership

I resonate with William Saum's reminiscence of General Assemblies focused on "great issues confronting the church and the world." I lament with Saum that little at this year's Assembly reflected the enthusiasm of last year's cutting-edge report from the Church Growth Task Force, "Hey, I am doing a new thing . . . . Do you get it?"

Wile E. Coyote or the Roadrunner

That's the question I have been asking all my pals since I read the wonderful article in Sunday's paper by Henry Allen. He is a professor at the University of Maryland. In his honors seminar on meaning and culture he asks students with whom they identify in those classic cartoons: Wile E. Coyote or the Roadrunner?

Strengthening the office of Elder

Soon, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will begin as new round of conversations with the Episcopal Church, focusing on the recognition of their office of bishop and our office of elder. We should make this an opportunity to clarify and strengthen our understanding of the eldership, for the sake of life within the Presbyterian Church.

A Response to the Continued Membership Decline

As the church continues to focus on the shadow of the circling "membership" vulture, I would make a radical but potent proposal dealing with growth:

1. Focus on average attendance, rather than membership, for appraisal of growth or decline.

There is a Way Out

While a gay legislator addressed a recent political convention, a delegate held up a sign which read, "There is a way out." The intended reference was that gays and lesbians can simply change by becoming heterosexuals. Regardless of how one feels about that advice, the phrase itself provides wise counsel for Presbyterians. Although caught in a seeming interminable struggle over the ordination of gays and lesbians, there is a way out for the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Balkanization of the Presbyterian Church

I fear for the soul of our church. I fear because I believe I am seeing a fundamental premise of our polity thwarted, with a resulting fragmentation and conflict that may tear us asunder.

The fundamental premise to which I refer is that a person will always vote his or her conscience.