General Assembly Sets Forth Vision for the Future of the Presbyterian Church in the USA

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, preaches Thursday to a joint meeting of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. (Photo by Rich Copley)

A rare and rousing doubleheader sermon — one by the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett and the second by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II — launched a combined gathering Thursday of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board.

With a full day of work in front of them, both groups found morning nourishment from two of the best Presbyterian preachers on the planet. Moffett is president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency; Nelson is Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Preaching from Acts 2:42-47, Moffett led with this fable to illustrate how a connectional church ought to behave: When a snake entered a barn, a mouse asked for help from a chicken, a pig and a cow, who all decided it wasn’t their problem. And it turned out it wasn’t, because the snake ended up biting the farmer’s wife, who fell ill. The farmer killed the chicken to make her chicken soup, then offed the pig to feed all the people who showed up to nurse his wife back to health. Sadly, the woman died, and people from around the state showed up to mourn her, necessitating the slaughter of the cow as well.

“We are all one body whether we realize it or not,” Moffett said. How we respond to people at the border, to people differently abled or of a different economic status — “it all matters,” she said. “Polarization and disconnection have a way of destroying people.”

Even though we’re millenia removed from the early church, “we see visions of a connectional church, where the only canon is the life of Jesus. There’s beauty in unity,” Moffett said, quoting one of Nelson’s favorite lines and the theme for the upcoming General Assembly: “The church is not an institution. It’s a movement.”

Like the early church, God’s people are doing God’s work “when we put our hands and feet together doing Matthew 25 work,” she said, marrying programs of both the OGA and PMA, “when we stand with the least, last and lost.”

Growing up in Oakland, Calif., Moffett admired her grandmother, her spiritual mentor. Her grandfather had the church title, “but she filled the role,” Moffett said. “I saw as a young child how faith came alive. Some would say she was practicing therapy and ministry without a license. It made her vivacious. I wanted what she had.”

Christians today “are ready to speak truth to power, to live like Jesus. Are you ready?” she asked a congregation that clearly was. “My prayer is that God will liberate us with love and fill us with hope. With God we can grow in impact if not in numbers. My prayer is we will come together and see things from God’s perspective because there is beauty in unity.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Presbyterian Mission