Friends and Neighbors in Christ,
May the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
As Kay, Lillian and I traveled to Kentucky in 1979 in order for me to attend seminary in Louisville, we loved our new home in the Blue Grass state immediately. During the course of our three years, we enjoyed the blessings of our second daughter’s birth, making new friends, finding a wonderful church home, the wonder and beauty of snow in the winter, the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Cardinal men’s basketball team as they defeated UCLA for a national championship. Life in Louisville was different from what we had experienced in small town USA in central Florida.
My three years of graduate study were rich and full. The mission of Louisville Seminary was to prepare students for parish ministry. That mission was fulfilled as I sat at the feet of professors who I got to know as strong and committed Christians whose desire was to share and teach so many aspects of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world. We were exposed to theologians with international reputations who visited and lectured on the seminary campus, people like Hans Kung and Eduard Schweizer. Listening to them preach and teach broadened my understanding of the gospel.
After my first academic year of study, I was elected by the student body to represent the seminary as a page to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church US where I met Desmond Tutu (reunion of the Presbyterian Church US and the United Presbyterian Church USA did not take place until 1983). After my second academic year I was elected to represent the student body as a seminary delegate. After my ordination, I served as a commissioner to the General Assembly representing the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery. Each of these experiences helped me to better understand the diversity within the body of Christ and to better appreciate how decisions are made that affect the whole church. Presbyterian polity is unique. It is representative in nature. Everyone has a voice. We discern the work and movement of the Holy Spirit through the voice of the majority.
The 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA convenes June 14 in Detroit, Michigan. Commissioners from every corner of the country along with seminary and youth delegates will descend upon Detroit and begin to tackle some of the issues before the church. Some of the issues will be easily debated and decided. Others will not be so simple. My roots have always been in the Reformed tradition and the Presbyterian Church USA. Through the years, I have always heard people grumble about the work of the General Assembly. To be honest, there have been times and places where I have grumbled, too. However, as I grow older and hopefully more mature in my faith, I have come to a point of understanding. The Lord God is much, much larger than I am, his wonders to behold. May we as good and faithful sisters and brothers in Christ, pray for the men and women who will be representing our respective governing councils and churches and as we pray may we ask God to provide them the spirit of discernment and the grace of encouragement, and may Jesus Christ be praised!
+ Pastor Steve