In the Presbyterian Church we wrap our vision around three ideas discerned over hundreds and thousands of years of the Christian Church:
We are confessional because we confess our faith and are guided by historical confessions written over thousands of years in response to particular situations and contexts. We are constitutional because we shape our communal life together around a constitution, which includes the Book of Confessions (Part I) and the Book of Order (Part II)—I prefer the term covenantal over constitutional, as our constitution is also our covenant about how we will treat each other and establishes the common rules and guidelines.
But it is the third “C” that continues to challenge our communal life as a denomination: connectional. Our form of government connects the local church with the national levels of the church, and invites us into a mutual form of government that respects smaller (local and regional) councils while acknowledging the role of the larger (national) councils.
Being connectional reminds us of our larger connections to the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ, including Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, congregationalists, pentecostals, etc. It also reminds us of our connection through our theology of creation to people who identity with other religions and even no religion at all. We are connected to creation itself as created beings.
“Connectional living” calls us to see the immigrant (documented or undocumented) as fellow children of God and part of our family. Scriptures remind us again and again to welcome the immigrant and treat them as a member of our community or family. “Connectional living” calls us to see the poor, hungry and homeless, acknowledge them, and allow our compassion to move us to do something. “Connectional living” reminds us that our well being is intimately tied to the well being of others—that black lives do matter, that immigrants are our neighbors, that LGBTQ people are also God’s children, created and declared “good” just as they are. “Connectional living” calls us to a sense of belonging and a sense of accountability, especially with regard to those whom God shows more (the poor, the hungry, the refugee, the immigrant, the oppressed, the marginalized, the imprisoned, the victim, the offender, etc.).