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Mission at Home and Abroad

In 1993 the General Assembly adopted an insightful, prophetic document presented by Worldwide Ministries, "Mission in the 1990s." It offered five crucial challenges, all of which have as much urgency and relevance now for the PC(USA) as at the beginning of the decade.

The Center of Inclusion

Over my ministry I've been called a conservative, a Communist, a secularist, an evangelical, a liberal, a Congregationalist and now lately a centrist. I'm getting calls from people saying, "You represent the center. Do something." A person cozies up to me at a meeting and asks, "What are those of us in the center going to do when the denomination splits?" I am hearing a plea that the ill-defined, nebulous center will miraculously rise up to hold our denomination together.

A Commitment to Unity

The 212th General Assembly affirmed the fragile unity of our denomination by rejecting one of the Beaver-Butler overtures and by delaying for one more year consideration of the overtures dealing with sexuality and ordination. One can infer from their decisions the belief that Presbyterians are neither ready to divide the denomination nor to continue debating the issues surrounding sexuality and ordination.

Guiding the Ark and Fighting the Woodpeckers

Long time pal Phil is retiring. I write, inviting him to join me in forming a senior step ball team. We were champs in seminary -- in the game where the batter throws a tennis ball against the Alexander Hall steps at Princeton and the fielders have to catch it before it bounces.

Recruiting the Future Leadership of the Church

A professor friend at Union-PSCE some time ago sent me a tape recording of one of his classes. The visitor for the day was a Methodist bishop whose assignment was director of worldwide evangelism for the United Methodist Church. He described in detail his experience in his first parish in a small church in a poor neighborhood in Sydney, Australia:

Post-Denominational Presbyterians?

There are some questions which need to be asked:

* Are denominations any longer viable? Or are they archaic? Or are they "The moral failure of Christianity?" (Richard Niebuhr)

For Less Regulatory Governance

There is an increasingly urgent voice in the church, calling for our governance to be more enabling and less regulatory. Chapter 14 of the Form of Government, which deals with ordination, certification and commissioning, is the most severe focal point for this frustration, and is a major source of the disconnect between congregations and the denomination.

Unreached, Unchurched or Unconcerned

Mission is not something done "to" or "for" others, but "with" others. We participate in God's mission in loving communion with: (1) the Triune God who empowers, sends and directs us; (2) one another in the local- global church; and (3) those to whom we are sent and those whom we receive.

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.

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?

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