Marie Mainard O'Connell
Arthur K. Fullerton
224 GA Co-Moderator Candidates
Led by the Holy Spirit
"Preparing the way for a Future Church"
Empowering the Church
The theme of the 224th General Assembly (2020) was set to be “Called to a Movement Beyond Institution,” based upon Romans 12:2. In light of the pandemic, the Stated Clerk has now called for the theme to be “From Lament to Hope.” How do we help the church both lament our recent losses while also living into new hope?
Before the virus struck, the PCUSA was like the ancient Israelites wandering in the Wilderness, pining for Egypt. Egypt was the post WWII era of full pews, bouncing children, and overflowing budgets; a reality long past, but still preferred. Of course, that Egypt also oppressed with segregation, marginalized women, and criminalized LGBTQ folks. As a gay man born in 1962 in the segregated South, and a Xennial minister-mom, we’re glad we left Egypt behind. Thinking back, we know God has been with us through many joys and perils, as God is with us now.
Since the virus struck, we ARE lamenting this movement beyond institutions—forced out of our comfortable traditions and into the hearts of those who wish to gather in Spirit where we cannot gather in Body. Many churches won’t give up their buildings or favorite style of worship without a great deal of grumbling and murmuring. Many are even now merely waiting for “when things get back to normal” rather than adapting to the ground rippling under our feet. Part of being the Pandemic Generation is placing our hope in God, that this wilderness is crafting us to trust in our Savior instead of our own power, to feel the wind of the Spirit draw us out of our isolation. God will provide manna and servant leaders along the way—if we follow.
We are not going back to Egypt. We may still be wandering in the Wilderness, but the coronavirus has given us a glimpse of a potential Promised Land. A future Church focused more on relationships than right beliefs; a Church beyond four walls; a Church that seeks to Love God and Love our Neighbor in more than words. A Church that hears Jesus call us to be fishers of people, not building preservationists. A Church unafraid to try and fail and try again at new technologies and practices to reach seekers old and new. We can feel the new church birthing in 1001 New Worshiping Communities, in Earth Care congregations, through Matthew 25 churches, in Young Adult Volunteers, in called seminarians, in Certified Ruling Elders and in renewing CREDO experiences.
We lament by naming our challenges plainly, we cry to God with our grief, we cease to pretend that everything is okay. We lament by feeling the tears of the overworked, the tensions of the anxious, the fears of the powerless, and reminding each other, “We are not alone. Our God goes with us.” And we do not look backwards.
We live into hope when we try something new; when we redistribute resources to those most in need, we train leaders of all kinds to be resilient, we delegate power away from the center, we trust our polity for discernment, and build a sense of responsibility and ownership and purpose for our children, youth and visitors. Our task is to prepare the way for the generations to follow, who have never known Egypt.
Our Answers to the OGA Questions
Our vision of a future church based on mission and Making Ministers.
The Role of the Co-Moderators between Assemblies
How can the church community make room for all people to share their stories of faith? How can we listen to the stories of people who are not in the church?
We propose responding to COVID-19 with small church grants and new curriculum for families to worship together in the home.