The Presbyterian Outlook is pleased once again to present the list of those Presbyterian graduates from theological institutions across the country, and to honor them as many begin careers in ministry. And all of us join General Assembly Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel in best wishes to each of our graduates.
The idea seemed pretty straightforward: take 10 "listening" teams, each with one Muslim and one Christian from another country, and send them around the United States for about two weeks, talking with as many Presbyterians along the way as they could jam into the schedule. Hope that what comes out is a better understanding of relations between Muslims and Christians, and perhaps a desire by Presbyterians in the pews to know more about the Islamic world.
The General Assembly Council will be asked at its Sept. 25-29 meeting in Louisville to review the role of the Presbyterian News Service, and to consider how the denomination’s news service should approach the reporting of controversial stories.
The discussion has been provoked, in part, because there are differing opinions about what the news service should do — how much editorial freedom it should have, or how much it should reflect official church policy — and how well it’s been doing its job.
By Albert N. Wells Rainbow. 2002. 264 pp. Pb. $14.95.ISBN 1-56825-082-7
— reviewed by Albert C. Winn, Winston-Salem, N.C.
The year 2002 does not appear to be a good time for publishing a book on the pursuit of peace. But Al Wells has done it, despite the widespread approval of national policies of war and retaliation which has followed the horrendous breach of peace on Sept. 11, 2001. On the cover of this book, the subtitle "It’s the Thing to Do" is altered by an insertion that makes it read, "It’s still the Thing to Do."
As suggested in this column last week, we have an obligation to reach out to those Christian brothers and sisters in our own fold who for whatever reason have become distant or estranged — either by our action, or theirs, or by both — before we go to the Table of our Lord.
When some folks think Presbyterian, they think "frozen chosen," a collection of mostly well-to-do, well-buttoned-up, well-intentioned white people. But the General Assembly’s recent decision to go ahead with the Mission Initiative — a five-year campaign to raise $40 million from big donors for international mission work and new church development in the United States — is a sign that the vision can extend well beyond that, and that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can, if it’s willing, nurture a more diverse, more creative, more open-ended definition of the church of the future.
The claim has recently been made in this space that God has given the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) a moment of grace, following years of intense warfare, in which we have an opportunity to rethink who we are called to be and what God is calling us Presbyterians to do in the new century — to rekindle our commitment to Jesus Christ and to reinvigorate our mission to the world for which he died.
It’s been a distressing, violent year since hijacked planes plunged into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The months since then have brought a whole crop of pain around the world — suicide bombings in the Middle East, retaliation in Palestinian villages, war in Afghanistan, Hindus and Muslims attacking one another in India, a Russian plane filled with children falling from the sky, to name just a few. And, in the United States, economic news so bad that almost everyone knows someone who’s lost a job.
By Walter Brueggemann Eerdmans. 2002. 150 pp. Pb. $15.ISBN 0-8028-3930-4
— reviewed by James K. Mead, Orange City, Iowa
Every preacher and teacher — and everyone who listens to sermons and lessons — cares about the theme Walter Brueggemann addresses in Ichabod Toward Home, based on his 2001 Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary. Using the Ark Narrative in 1 Samuel 4-6 to explore what the church does when it stands before a biblical text, Brueggemann contends that the story of the ark’s capture, exile and return offers an alternative vision of the church’s proclamation and life in the world.