By Aaron Willett, SeaPres Communications Coordinator
Last Monday in my Presbyterian Polity Class, at Seattle Pacific Seminary, a classmate reminded (we might even say chided) me that I am a denominational fanboy. She got me thinking… Are we perfect? Nowhere close. Do I think we have a corner on the market for Scriptural truth? Of course not. What I do know is that Jesus assures us, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them” (Matt. 18:20, CEB). I read Jesus’ promise and I know it in my head, but when we gather as a presbytery, I know it in my heart. We experience this too in our local congregations, all over the region.
I know I’m not making a terribly sophisticated argument here, but I’m encouraged because together we constitute the Body of Christ. My own gifts and quirks contribute to that body just as do yours. In the good times our ministry together is amplified because of the body, and the hard times we find comfort and solace there too. I’m even encouraged by the knowledge that when things go sideways in ministry, there are resources provided by our presbytery and boundaries laid out in our constitution.
As an inquirer who feels called to ministry within the PCUSA, I am encouraged by the recent shift in denominational posture. Reading our recently adopted Book of Order (formerly the “nFOG”), I see a recognition that missional vision comes from local churches, not governing bodies. Our newfound constitutional freedom has many faces, but most encouraging for me are the three new Temporary Associate Teaching Elders (aka ministers) called within our presbytery last month. Positions like these would not have been possible under the old constitution. We also see this new enabling denominational posture in the push to create 1,001 new worshipping communities over the next ten years. Roger Dermody, GAMC Deputy Executive Director for Mission, has said, “I believe that our work has got to be focused primarily on creating the conditions that will allow our existing worshipping communities to flourish, and engages them in giving birth to over 1000 new communities of faith within the next ten years.”
We are witnessing a rearrangement of our denominational priorities that will highlight the work and growth of local churches, while building up and enabling new communities, and bearing witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through many voices, new and old.
So, am I a denominational fanboy? Yes, indeed, through and through—soli Deo gloria.