Here are my responses to the questions submitted by The Presbyterian Layman. The responses are not online as of this posting, but I understand that the print version has hit the stands. On this one, we were given 800 words to answer both the bio and content questions. Like all the previous responses, brevity is difficult. I did not include all the bio stuff that preceded the questions.
- How will your leadership differ from that of previous moderators? I stand in a unique place in the life of our church.
I live and thrive in both worlds – heritage and innovation – and would strive to be a presence of peace in these times of change.
- Why do you think that you would make a good moderator?
I take people seriously and try to exude a peace driven by a God-inspired gratitude for my past, a Jesus-driven hope for the future and a Spirit-lead confidence in the beloved community.
- What do you believe will be the theme of your tenure if elected?
Nurtured by the past, embracing our future!
- If you were elected, what would be your first official action?
I would first remember and pray for those who have no one to pray for them.
- What do you see as the biggest issue today facing the PCUSA? (Biblical faithfulness, Christology, etc.)
The inability to appreciate the culture of, effectively speak to and passionately share Jesus with future Presbyterians.
- Several overtures coming before this General Assembly will seek to rescind the authoritative interpretation permitted under the PUP task force report or to rescind the actions of the PUP report altogether. How do you feel about this?
- Membership in the PCUSA is declining. What will you do to reverse this trend?
I would lift up those communities that are growing in body and create spaces for others to learn with/from them.
- How can the PCUSA attract younger and more diverse members without “watering down” its message to become more palatable?
Many younger folks manifest church and community in different ways. Watering down the Gospel is irresponsible, but then so is ignoring valid ways the next generation experiences Christ in their lives.
- Several overtures coming before this General Assembly will seek to rescind G-6.0106b, the "fidelity/chastity" ordination in the Book of Order. What are your thoughts on this?
- How do you feel about the “fidelity/chastity” ordination standard? Should it remain in the constitution or not?
- The number of PCUSA missionaries has been shrinking. How do you plan to turn that around?
I would encourage and support the collaboration that has begun between many theologically diverse mission agencies and our denomination.
- How do you feel about the attempts coming before this General Assembly to redefine marriage from that of a covenant between a man and a woman to that of a committed relationship between two people?
- Should departing congregations be allowed to leave the PCUSA with their property without penalty?
As/if congregations choose to leave, there have been and will continue to be gracious and creative ways that folks can honor historic connections and new beginnings.
- How do you feel about the allegations leveled at the EPC regarding departing PCUSA congregations?
I am not convinced this is a good use of our energies.
- What is the number one thing that the PCUSA should be doing differently.
We must handle conflict differently. Legislating our way out of conflict and into denomination harmony will get us nowhere. We operate as if we are solely bound together by a structural contract rather than a covenantal blessing. When we live in a contractual relationship, our primary motivation is self-preservation. We are then unable to give thanks for those with whom we disagree, nor can we confess how we participate in the perpetuation of disunity.
- How will you make sure that it does?
If we engage in gratitude and repentance, there is hope. I will encourage us to name and give thanks for those places in our church where new life is manifest and turn away from the ways that we perpetuate unhealthy interactions. If we choose to instigate a movement of hope, we can embrace and model it for one another, the larger church and the world.
- Please comment on an issue or initiative of your choice.
When it comes to the core issue of same-sex relationships, I believe homosexuality is not sinful by nature and should not be an excluding factor for ordination or marriage. That said, I know this is not where our denomination is right now and I appreciate the passion with which those who disagree engage in the discourse.