Presbyterian Church (USA) – 2022 PC (USA) Moderators Conference kicks off with moving yet thoughtful worship

More than 80 moderators from across PC (US) are in Louisville this weekend for the 2022 Moderator Conference at the Presbyterian Center. More than 60 others are joining online. The conference began with worship on Friday morning. Photo by Rick Jones.

With drums to lead them and a sermon by a 225 co-moderatore General Assembly to inspire them, Intermediate Council Moderators from across the country joined both in person in the Presbyterian Center Chapel and online for the 2022 Moderator Conferencewhich began on Friday with a worship pointing to the co-moderators‘ “Unbounded We Thrive” theme.

Reverend Ruth Faith Santana-Grace, co-moderator of the 225th General Assembly of the PC (USA) offers her greetings during worship.  Photo by Rick Jones

Reverend Ruth Faith Santana-Grace, co-moderator of the 225th General Assembly of the PC (USA), offers her greetings during worship. Photo by Rick Jones

About 145 Presbytery or Synod Moderators and Vice Moderators worshiped in person or online. Co-moderator Reverend Shavon Starling-Louis delivered a sermon based on the Beatitudes, while co-moderator Reverend Ruth Faith Santana-Grace also led the worship. Musicians, including Reverend Dr Alonzo Johnson, Reverend Marissa Galván-Valle and Dr William McConnell, lent their gifts, and moderators in the chapel responded with full-throated singing, applause – even dancing , which is not the case. t see often during Presbyterian worship.

Innovation in worship abounded. When he wasn’t playing drums, Johnson, coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on Personal Self-Development – invited moderators worshiping in person to break a chain of paper and dissolve it into a font placed on the communion table. The liturgy included new interpretations of the traditional Beatitudes, including “We forget that you taught us that those who scratch at the pots and pans of despair – the hungry and the thirsty – shall be filled and fed”.

In his sermon, Starling-Louis — pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina — took the opportunity to thank the assembled moderators for answering yes to God’s call.

“We can reconnect in ways we never imagined before” as the effects of the Covid pandemic continue to fade. “Brothers and sisters, thank you for saying yes to the leadership of God’s people in these days.”

Trust “that the people before you are with you,” she said, calling our PC (USA) ancestors “those ancestors, those saints before, our God-given gift of community.”

The Reverend Shavon Starling-Louis, co-moderator of the 225th General Assembly, preached at the chapel on Friday.  Photo by Rick Jones.

The Reverend Shavon Starling-Louis, co-moderator of the 225th General Assembly, preached at the chapel on Friday. Photo by Rick Jones

The beatitudes “confer and declare blessings,” Starling-Louis said, adding with a smile, “it’s not a word I use every day.”

If those worshiping heard nothing else, Starling-Louis wanted them to withhold an assurance: “Without being bound by the Holy Spirit, we can remember that a gift of being church is that we we can participate in the blessing of each other. … It’s a world-changing thing to realize that you can bless people, and at the same time you will be blessed. This journey that we are invited to—to follow the one who walks with us, who chooses to sit with us on the mountains and in the meetings—it is a game-changer to realize that we are being allowed to participate in a holy work.

Starling-Louis offered a warning to people who misinterpret Jesus’ words in Matthew 5. “In our humanity, we can twist things,” she said, and that twist sounds like this: “You you just deal with these bad things now because you’re going to be fine soon.

“We are not alone. God has not abandoned us,” Starling-Louis said. For those who mourn, Jesus “is not absent from these spaces. that we mourn. The kingdom of God, or kin-dom, she reminded congregants, is both “the now and the not yet.”

Prayerfully, Starling-Louis offered the moderators their own set of beatitudes: “As we live in our Reformed identity…may you be blessed today, in this time of learning and connection, in the real context of home, ministry and love of this church…as you tap into skills you didn’t know you had, as you recognize that there are skills and gifts you don’t have, but God’s creativity, fellowship and compassion are always faithful.

“You are claimed in the waters of baptism by the God of all creation,” Starling-Louis told those gathered for worship. “Blessed are you as you wade through the waters,” beginning the chorus and being immediately joined by those in worship,”wade in the water.”

The 2022 Moderator Conference, courtesy of Intermediate Council Ministries in the General Assembly Office, continues all day Friday and resumes Saturday. Check pcusa.org for other reports.

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