Last night a season emerged in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Two years ago the 221st General Assembly approved a rules change to allow co-moderators of the assembly, rather than a moderator and a vice-moderator. Many churches now have a co-pastor model, and G.A. is now following suit.
Two sets of co-moderators stood for moderator this year: Ruling Elder David Parker and Teaching Elder Adan Mairena, and Teaching Elders Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson. In previous years, the election of the moderator has been contentious and the field has been more than a few. This year was an unique.
First, there were only two “sets” of co-moderators standing. Theologically, they were fairly similar, all leaning toward slightly left of center in various ways (compared to previous years). They all seemed thoughtful, compassionate, and passionate for the Church. The election would come down to personality—who could “win” the hearts of the commissioners more.
The moderator must be elected by a majority of the commissioners. In past years, it sometimes takes two, three, or even four ballots to get to a majority. Another sign that a new season is emerging is that not only did Jan (@jledmiston) and Denise (@thesoulstepford) get a majority of the votes on the first ballot, they received a super-majority (432-136, or 76% of the votes). This is major for the denomination on a number of fronts: the first co-moderators in our history, and the first two-woman pair, etc.
I have known Jan for years through conferences and gatherings that help keep the PC(USA) connected, and have followed her on social media as well as at her blog, A Church for Starving Artists. I don’t know Denise, but had the opportunity to meet her in the whirlwind of receptions the moderators attend the first night. She also blogs at Soula Scriptura. Both are eloquent, kind, and clear that they see a future full of hope and promise for the PC(USA). We have heard that rhetoric before from moderators and denominational leaders, so it is hard not to be a little cynical. But, there does seem to be something different happening here. “Hope” seems to be emerging.
As many have echoed Co-Moderator Jan, this is a kyros moment in our denomination. Let’s see what the Spirit is doing!
Please continue to keep this General Assembly—all the commissioners, advisory delegates, staff, volunteers, issue advocates, and observers—in your hearts. May the Spirit continue to help us discern what it means in this day and age to “be the Church.”