These are observations shared by Gayle Parker, Pastor of The Spring in Tempe, AZ, based on her experience at a recent Fellowship planning meeting.
As a member of the Advisory Group for the Fellowship, I was one of the people who attended the planning meeting in June. Here is what I observed:
- Men and women who are committed to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, personally and also corporately.
- Men and women who are deeply concerned about the trajectory of the PC(USA) and who are determined to find a way for those who want to stay together while seeking a new way to be Presbyterian.
- Men and women who have a developing vision of what a new kind of Presbyterian Church would look like — bound together more by Christology, theology, and mission than by polity.
- Men and women who do not have all the questions answered.
And, here is what I came away with regarding expectations for the August Gathering:
- Assurance there is excellent leadership at the helm of the Fellowship, but it is leadership of a movement that is evolving and will continue to evolve in the changing landscape of the PC(USA). No one has all the answers yet.
- Hope that, by August, a way forward will be clearly articulated and explained, but understanding that that way forward will not be the “way” for everyone.
- Clarity that for change to happen at the local level, individual pastors and Sessions will need to lead courageously. In several settings, I have heard hope expressed that in August folks would be given a roadmap of exactly how to proceed and that the map would come with General Assembly’s blessing, if not encouragement. If that hope is resting on the idea that someone else is going to solve the issues you face in your congregation or presbytery, you will be disappointed in the August Gathering. For change to happen, courageous leadership at the local level will be necessary.
Here is what I think you can expect from the August Gathering in Minneapolis:
- Encouraging vision-casting for a fruitful future.
- Some clear ways forward, as allowed by nFoG, that will allow for congregations to stay either connected to the PC(USA) in certain ways or disconnected, depending on where God is leading them.
- Inspiring worship necessary to remind us why and to Whom this is most important.
- Blessed fellowship necessary to encourage and unite us for the difficult road(s) ahead.
- Information you will need in order to take next steps appropriate to your context.