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SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013 03
Pc(usa) moderator speaks
about the changing church
By Kay Carney
T
he Rev. Dr. Neal Presa
(M.Div. 2002), moderator
of the Presbyterian Church
(USA) General Assembly and alum-
nus of San Francisco Theological
Seminary, found time during his
tightly scheduled travels to visit the
seminary recently. He spoke to a
gathering of faculty, staff, students,
and leaders of local churches.
There was vigorous discussion
about the challenges facing today’s
churches and about how to prepare
for the church of the 21st century.
Presa offered a clear assessment of
the state of affairs facing many de-
nominations and congregations to-
day and shared valuable information
about the current and future genera-
tion of faith leaders.
According to Presa, Presbyte-
rians need to have a flexibility that
honors our Reformed traditions while reaching out to oth-
ers outside our tradition. “The richness of the Reformed
tradition has always been to engage all sectors of society,”
he said. “All churches, all Christian traditions, but even
beyond the Christian community—civic organizations,
nonprofits, anyone and everyone who shares the vision of
transforming the world.”
This transformation can happen on city sidewalks or
in one-room dwellings, Presa continued. And we must be
open, acknowledging, and ready to embrace a new and bold
way of thinking about how to share God’s vision and ex-
press love for all people.
Presa believes that ministry will and must extend be-
yond the traditional church. “Millennials and Googlers will
serve with World Vision, Bread for the World, Habitat for
Humanity, the Clinton Foundation,” he said. “It’s really
about partnering with all sorts of individuals and organi-
zations who have a . . . sense of call and vocation to be a
part of healing relationships and addressing reconciliation
where there is violence, addressing poverty, and addressing
systems that stifle human freedom. It’s about proclaim-
ing the gospel of Jesus Christ in all ways, in words and in
works.”
Churches and seminaries must be ecumenical in the
truest sense of the word, Presa declared. “To be ecumenical
means that we are a household of God. It’s heaven and earth
and everyone in it. It’s not just the Christian community;
it’s the whole human family—7 billion people who live on
this planet Earth. So to be truly ecumenical is to be in
partnership and in authentic engagement with the entire
human family.”
9
Kay Carney is SFTS vice president of communications.
“The richness of the
Reformed tradition has
always been to engage
all sectors of society.”
— Rev. Dr. Neal Presa
the church of the
21
st
century
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