Here is yet another organization that submitted questions to the four candidates for moderator. Depending on who you talk to, The Witherspoon Society is a justice-minded progressive advocacy group or it is a misguided group of liberals leading the church towards it’s destruction. My experience of the Witherspoon Society has always been pretty positive, but to find out more about them see their ABOUT US page.
This year they posed four questions to the candidates. You can see all four candidate responses HERE, but below are my responses:
1. What might Jesus say to us if he were to drop in on our
Assembly in San Jose?
I think Jesus would simply wander around the exhibit halls,
lounges and tables telling stories of the faith. Among other things,
he would speak of eternal life, the cost of discipleship, the
importance of community and the call to serve. His stories would
infect the minds and spirits of the assembly so much so that a
movement of action would swell and the General Assembly would burst
forth with a clear mandate to serve. In the midst of the details,
some of us would feel attacked, alienated and judged while others of
us would feel vindicated, liberated, loved. But such are the
compelling and challenging words of Jesus.
2. What might we do to further the cause of peace in our world
"Peace be with you."
When Jesus says this to the disciples in the locked room, we are
given a powerful message. Peace is communal. In order to achieve
peace, we have to understand it. We must see the difference between
peace simply as an absence of conflict and a peace that is built on
a just resolution to conflict. Too often we hope that if one side
would simply give in to the other, there would be peace. This is not
peace. True peace must be built on a willingness for all involved to
admit their part in the brokenness and embrace the needs of the
other. In a world of war, this is even more applicable as peace
should not just be about a fragile halt of violence taken at the
cost of the freedom of the other, but a peace that will be sustained
by the power that is given to it by a foundation of justice.
3. What is our calling to "do justice" in this time of increasing
economic stress and the growing gap between rich and the poor in our
own nation, and in the world?
We will not adequately address issues of poverty and wealth until
we can re-direct our emotional, fiscal and spiritual energies away
from other internal conflicts. While important to our future as an
institution, our internal harmony will only be as effective as the
mission that comes out of it. Many in the church are already
passionately addressing issues of poverty and economic justice
despite our institutional struggles. If we are to address
large-scale issues of economic justice, institutional resources and
grassroots movements must converge and work together.
4. Following the recent GAPJC rulings, do you believe the
requirement for "fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness"
should be changed, and if so, how?
I believe at the heart of this question is the subtext of
ordination of GLBTQ folks. I have always been supportive of full
ordination and believe the way should be made clear for that to
happen. At the same time that is not where our church is today nor
is this the primary focus of my call to be moderator. With that
said, I believe that will need to come to a decision beyond the
often called for, "agree to disagree" stance because fundamentally,
like the ordination of women before, opposing positions cannot
co-exist. In the meantime, each of us will need to discern what is
our level of acceptable disagreement so we can discern that same
thing for our denomination. My greatest hope is that no matter what
happens, the discourse will be grace-filled, and any leaving or
returning can be done with dignity.
Any day now you will also see both the online and paper versions of our
responses to The Presbyterian Outlook and The Presbyterian Layman.
Stay tuned. And if all this reading is making your brain hurt, you can always listen to the podcasts over at Decently and In Order 😉