1. Church lobbyist urges activists to ‘be vigilant’ 2. Mid Council committee begins with introductions, closed sessions 3. Mission Council gives GA bleak stats but hopeful plans 4. Do better in the 21st century
Since The Aquila Report has limited staff and budget, we are unable to cover the PCUSA General Assembly. Our good friends at the Layman are there in force, even adding a new writer just for the occasion. We will be providing daily ‘teases’ and links to many interesting stories, such as:
Church lobbyist urges activists to ‘be vigilant’
Alan F.H. Wisdom, The Layman
Saying that the nation is at “a major crossroads,” the chief lobbyist for the Presbyterian Church (USA) urged a group of progressive activists to “be vigilant” against the “corporate structures”that he believes endanger U.S. democracy.
The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, director of the denomination’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., told members of Presbyterian Voices for Justice that “I believe that the only ability to beat back this kind of open door of corporate money [donated to political campaigns] is that we have to be both active and informed in going to the polls to vote.” Nelson was the featured speaker at a July 1 meeting of the activist group in conjunction with this week’s General Assembly
Mid Council committee begins work with introductions, closed sessions
Jason P. Reagan, The Layman
The committee that may shepherd some major changes to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s middle-governing-body structure kicked off three days of meetings Saturday night with a round of introductions and a closed session.
The Mid Council Issues Committee will consider 19 overtures as part of the PCUSA’s 220th General Assembly, including a slate of eight recommendations from the denomination’s Mid Council Commission (MCC) that would dismantle the current configuration of 16 synods, as well as launching an experiment in non-geographic presbyteries.
Committee members will face several proposals covering topics ranging from the formation of flexible presbytery boundaries to an attempt to table the MCC’s plan until at least 2016.
Mission Council gives GA bleak stats but hopeful plans
Jason P. Reagan, The Layman
A Saturday afternoon presentation by the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s primary mission organization tried to balance the pessimism of a numerically declining denomination with the optimism anchored in a plan to grow more congregations.
During its second plenary session, commissioners of the PCUSA’s 220th General Assembly heard a report from the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) outlining demographics and highlighting the agency’s programs.
“Our goal is not to do mission on behalf of the church but to inspire, equip and connect the church for Christ’s mission in the world,” GAMC Executive Director Linda Valentine told the GA.
However, the agency’s job will be tougher since the denomination is losing members every year with a steady three-percent annual decline.
In a related presentation, GAMC staffer Deborah Bruce told commissioners that PCUSA membership is on the decline — dipping below the 2 million mark in 2011
Do better in the 21st century
James D. Berkley, The Layman
Go be good. That was the gist of the Saturday-morning Riverside Conversation on the Nature of the Church in the 21st Century: Do ministry better. Presenters Carol Howard Merritt and Stephanie Sorge Wing, members of the special committee reporting to the 220th General Assembly, named some realities of the ministry situation and offered mainly conventional advice on how to do things better.
The presenters pointed to the events of Pentecost and asked about the new Christians, “What if they hadn’t left that room? What if they had stayed in that confined space?” Oh, the infant church might have grown a little, but it never could have thrived.
“Are we ready to ‘leave the room’ that is our church?” they asked. “Will we go out into the streets? Will we learn new languages? Will we be bold to share the good news that we know in Jesus Christ?”
[Editor’s note: Some of the original URLs (links) referenced in this article are no longer valid, so the links have been removed.]