This week there are so many pivot points in the histories of everything: from the global geopolitical drama in the West and in the Korean peninsula, to the start of the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the start of the tenure of Diane Givens-Moffett as President and Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to several of our churches preparing to welcome new pastors. Another church, Grace Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this Sunday. And, of course, this Sunday is Father’s Day, and for some this will be their first Father’s Day, with all the joy and new awareness and love and responsibility that comes with fatherhood.
It’s a little dizzying to consider all that may be happening, and the potential in these events. After a meeting of leading Western nations where the United States seemed to challenge the relationships with our long-time allies, we are now on the brink of a historic meeting with North Korea. There are indications that North Korea, which has seemed more focused on nuclear arms than the lives of their people, is now looking ahead to economic development, more normalized relations with the rest of the world, and peace and even reunification of the Korean people.
After three starts, the Presbyterian Mission Agency found an ideal candidate for their new leader, showing yet again God’s gracious control over our lives. The new PMA Director, Diane Givens-Moffett, was not available for the first two starts of the search, so perhaps God stopped our first two attempts in order to make us wait for Diane’s availability. Diane represents so much of what the church has been calling for in the PMA Director-a mission-minded, inspiring, culturally proficient, faith-led, forward-thinking leader who has already done much of what we are trying to get the church to look at into the future. She has been a force for reconciliation and collaboration between races, she has provided support for immigrants, she started a new worshiping community, and her ministry has always connected her churches with their communities. She starts her work today, and will be presented to the General Assembly, which begins this Saturday.
Yes, there is another GA coming up, with several different issues at hand. There will be an added emphasis on being present in the host community, this time St. Louis, with opportunities to connect with local churches, serve the community, and voice our concerns for migrants. There is also some controversy over issues at the national level of the PC(USA) regarding its structure, which was developed when the denomination was more than double the size we are now. I would ask your prayers for our contingent: Young Adult Advisory Delegate Sophia Alecci, Ruling Elder Commissioner Deborah Owens, and Teaching Elder Commissioner Bear Ride. Sophia will be leaving Thursday, Stated Clerk Diane Frasher will be joining us a week from Tuesday, and the rest of us will be out Friday, June 15, through Saturday, June 23.
More locally, several of our churches are in the process of calling new pastors. The calls have not been finalized yet, but I anticipate that come this September 15 Presbytery meeting, we will be receiving at least four and maybe a couple more new minister members! Two of these will not be pastoring congregations, though they are all connected with congregations-for instance, Tod Bolsinger has been active with Knox in Pasadena, even as he is extremely busy as Vice President of Fuller Theological Seminary. Tod is even busier with the broad acceptance of his highly recommended book Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in uncharted Territory-and most recently, the announcement that Fuller will be moving to Pomona in three years! I am very impressed with our new members-to-be, and with the churches who are embracing new leadership. I ask your prayers for all our churches and pastors in transition.
Last but certainly not least, I ask that God bless all of you who are fathers or who act as fathers for those in need of support, and guidance, and care. Lately I’ve been seeing the great impact that one individual can do in the lives of others, and certainly fathers can change the world as they raise their children. May we all see glimpses of God our Heavenly Father in the love of our human fathers.
As we consider all the possibilities of change and new adventures in our midst, I have been encouraged by a poem, “Beloved is Where We Begin,” by Jan Richardson:
If you would enter into the wilderness,
Do not begin without a blessing.
Do not leave without hearing who you are:
Named by the one who has traveled this path
Do not go without letting it echo in your ears,
and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart,
Do not despair……..
I cannot promise this blessing will free you from danger, from fear,
From hunger or thirst, from scorching of sun or the fall of night.
But I can tell you that on this path there will be help.
I can tell you that on this way there will be rest.
I can tell you that you will know the strange graces
That come to our aid only on a road such as this,
That fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength,
That come alongside us for no other cause
Than to lean themselves
Toward our ear
And with their
May you hear these whispers of grace every day,