Andrea Catherine Stokes, 20, is committed to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and is planning to go to seminary — she wants good things for her church. But here’s what she’s found, from personal experience, that college students can expect from the PC(USA). "I have never been in a congregation that has extended a hand to college students or young adults, I’ve never had that luxury," Stokes said. "I don’t want to go bowling and eat pizza, I’m past that. But I don’t want to knit. There’s nothing in between."
Historically, Presbyterians value higher education. In the best traditions of our Reformed faith, this commitment is always being challenged, examined and restated. Prospective students and their parents, along with professors, alumni/ae and governing bodies frequently ask, "What does it mean for a college to be related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church?" The question deserves a thoughtful response.
From 43 retired Presbyterian pastors, mission workers, educators
and church executives now residing in Santa Fe, N.M.
We are deeply troubled. We are alarmed about problems in the life of our nation, issues illuminated by the Bible. For several reasons, Santa Fe, N.M., is the home of a large number of retired Presbyterian church workers, including pastors, missionaries, Christian educators and executives. And right now we find ourselves united in concern and anger about issues in our national life.
See if this scenario sounds familiar.
A small handful of angry detractors mount a "whisper campaign" against a recently installed pastor. For a year the congregation and the pastor engage in a process designed to bring healing and resolution to the situation.
A recent survey of public expectations claims that pessimism prevails in opinions about ethical values. According to a report cited in the Christian Century, more than two-thirds of Americans feel that general morality is on a downhill slope. A vague and unspoken assumption seems to be that American society was once much more keenly centered on high and praiseworthy ideals, but that with the slippage in attention to religious and noble motives, and the seductive attractions of consumerism and a newly permissive amorality, we are gleefully submitting to social corrosion.
Not least of the problems in the PC(USA) is that we Presbyterians seem unable to talk about our faith in clear and useful ways. If we do have a confident message to share, I suspect it is often different from the faith of the Reformed tradition.
He and I hold so much in common. How can we see things so differently? We are both pastora of vital PC(USA) churches. We both proclaim the gospel with passion. We both serve boards of renewal organizations. Yet whenever news breaks in the denomination, he seems to see it as a harbinger of doom, whereas I often see the hand of the Holy Spirit. Time and again, in board meetings we argue against one another and vote in opposition to each other.
In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) we are short on members but still have substantial funds for mission. Churches in the "Two-Third’s World" have greater and greater numbers of people but are short on funds for ministry. How can we best become partners in mission? Surely some special "theological education" is required.
Short-term mission trips are a popular form of ministry that bring different parts of the body of Christ together.
Recently a religious fortnightly heralded a certain conservative school’s organized deployment of its best M.A. graduates into prestigious philosophy programs nationally and internationally. From there, earned doctorates in hand, these same students are assisted into the academy becoming leaders in the current revival of metaphysics, philosophy of religion, business ethics and philosophical theology.
Deep in the South Georgia forests, perched up on the fender of a Ford tractor at eight years of age, I was surprised when Henry slammed it to a halt. Moving carefully, he took his single-shot .22 rifle from where it had been stowed behind his seat and fired a bullet through the brain of the largest rattlesnake that I had ever seen. We carried the dead snake with us back to the house, where Henry, the plantation superintendent, proceeded to skin it and cut off its rattles for all to see.