Mid Councils Newsletter, March 9, 2015
musings from the road
In another spot in this newsletter, you will find a document prepared by the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) about the wonderful things that our denomination is doing. You can also find resources on the webpage about why people are deciding to stay in the PC(USA). Both of these and many other resources are designed to answer a set of questions that include things like the following: Why do we need denominations at all? And, why is the PC(USA) the right fit for the joint witness to the saving love of God that we have each experienced in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
You may have heard my answer to those questions before. It is—as is so much of my life—deeply rooted in my relationship with my family over the generations.
Accompanying this essay, you will see a picture of two young men in Mombasa, Kenya. Their story is intimately related to story of the Parr/Harris/Davis/Krummel/Reinking family of Peoria County, Illinois. These two young men are celebrating something that would not have even been a distant dream for them a few years ago. They have completed enough education to be accepted into a high school in order to continue to move their lives forward. Here is how these particular students got to that point.
They have lived for several years at Wana Wa Mola, a home for street boys in Mombasa, Kenya. The initial funding and planning for this home came from First Federated Church [PC(USA) and UCC] in Peoria, Illinois. The pastor of that church is Forrest Krummel (my husband), and one of the members of the church is Anni Krummel Reinking (my daughter). When she was twenty-one, she was a young adult volunteer (YAV) in mission in Mombasa (the PC(USA) no longer sends YAVs there because it is too dangerous). While she was there for about six months—before contracting malaria and being sent home—she worked with street boys who had nowhere to live at night except in cardboard boxes that they might have been able to find during the day. When Anni came home she preached in several places about her experiences there. One of those places was First Federated. When the moderator of the mission committee heard her story, she said, “When we did not know about these boys, they were not our responsibility. Now they are.” Through tenacious work by the committee and the pastor, Wana Wa Mola was founded in cooperation with an established mission in Africa called “Cornerstone.”
How did Anni even imagine being a YAV? She worked at a PC(USA) camp one summer during college. Another counselor there had a sister who was a YAV in a border project along the Mexican border with the U.S. Why was Anni working at a PC(USA) camp? Because both sides of her family had already been PC(USA) for several generations. Both of her parents (my husband and I ) were at that time the only pastors whom she had ever had. Why were they PC(USA) and interested in mission? My father’s parents—especially his mother—devoted their volunteer time to their PC(USA) church and taught us all that this was a vital part of being a church member. My parents were both elders. My grandparents were among the leading members of First Presbyterian Church in Peoria. My grandmother ran the kitchen, the Red Cross sewing circle, and the Presbyterian Women (PW). My grandfather was often on the session and held the door into the sanctuary every Sunday morning for decades. Why were they at First Presbyterian? Because even before they moved into town when they were married in the 1920s, they were Presbyterians. Among the possessions of her mother that my grandmother kept is a hymnbook (people owned their own hymnal at that time) from First Presbyterian Church in Glasford, Illinois. There has not been a church there for decades, but it was there when my great grandmother was alive. In fact, inside the front cover of the hymnbook is a mimeographed bulletin from a Sunday only a few weeks before her death in 1923.
To me, that is the purpose of a denomination. It connects us across not only generations but across continents to do the work that grows out of our understanding of ourselves as beloved children of God. And why the PC(USA)? Because at its heart, it honors the call of all people to service, and witness, and joy in our faith. Whether we serve as pastors, or deacons, or elders, or as people whose call does not include ordination makes little difference. Some of us set aside a little more time for study, or service, or training of one kind or another so that we can help the body of Christ accomplish its call. We work together without imagining that one kind of call is any better than another so that, in the end, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I do not know whether my great-grandmother had ever heard of Kenya—which would have been a British colony in her day. I do know that because of her faithful witness and the example she set for all of us that there are approximately twenty-five boys in Mombasa, Kenya, who do not have to sleep on the street tonight and two of them will soon be off to high school with their lives taking a direction they never could have imagined a few short years ago.
As you are no doubt well aware, the marriage amendment to the Constitution will pass within days of the publication of this newsletter. Just a friendly reminder that when changes like this happen that attract a wide variety of reactions and reports, a pastoral letter from you to the members of your presbytery is a good idea. When some new executives were in Louisville a couple of weeks ago, I was reminding them of this fact. They asked for a template or an example. What I told them is that it really needs to come from the heart of the presbytery leader. Whatever you think will be most helpful for the pastors and other leaders in our presbytery who will be interpreting this action in their communities will make the most impact. The Office of the General Assembly will also be providing some video resources, an update of the authoritative interpretation, and a list of frequently asked questions (and answers☺). These will be available on the PC(USA) website and the videos will also be posted on social media.
From time to time, leaders of presbyteries are asked to provide churches with good news about the Presbyterian Church. Oftentimes this happens in the midst of deliberations about denominational affiliation. Here is a resource that might be helpful in that or other circumstances.
Editor's note: we are in the process of updating this resource. The link to New Beginnings is found here.
Recently some members of the new class of presbytery leaders were in Louisville for the orientation to the Presbytery Leader Formation program. When they met with Linda Valentine, they asked her for links to some video resources that they could use and share. Here are those links (PDF)
Experience that deep sense of community one would expect at a national gathering of Presbyterians—a great big family reunion! Join us for a wide variety of workshops, all under one Big Tent, a conference that will inspire and equip Presbyterians to live missionally. Click here for more information.
Preachers for Worship Services Include:
Laurene Chan, Director of Youth Ministries, Cameron House
San Francisco Theological Seminary
Paul Roberts, President
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Jana Childers, Professor of homiletics and Speech Communication
San Francisco Theological Seminary