Good afternoons McReaders.It’s a cold day in Chicago, a blustery 39 degrees. But no worries, we’re staying warm inside of 5460. Fall in Chicago is a beautiful tome of the year, and to walk down to the local coffee shop or the lake, is a special treat when we know that the snow will be coming soon. That’s a special treat all in itself. But for now, we’re enjoying the weather here. Besides the weather, we’ve also got another special treat for you today.
Last year, we brought you an interview with Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 2010 PCUSA General Assembly. So, we decided to check in with her again and see what she was up to.
Moderator of the 219th PCUSA General Assembly, Cynthia Bolbach
So, you’ve been busy traveling places and what not. How have things been for you since we last spoke?
The Moderator’s life can be hectic, but so far I’ve been able to both fulfill moderator duties and continue working part-time at BNA, Inc., the legal publisher where I have worked for my entire career. During the last month, BNA, which had been entirely employee-owned, was acquired by Bloomberg, Inc., and the work involved with that caused me to have to cancel a couple moderatorial engagements. But that happens to many ruling elders, who have to juggle work, family, and church commitments. One of the issues I am trying to lift up during my term as moderator is how we can get ruling elders significantly engaged in the leadership of the church — and we proudly claim that ruling elders and teaching elders share equally in governance and spiritual leadership — given the difficulties of balancing all of those commitments.
Lots of things have been happening in the past year, especially with the passing of 10-A. Recently on the 19th of August, the National Presbyterian Church voted to end their relationship with the PCUSA because of 10-A. How do you think this will affect the PCUSA’s mission efforts in Mexico?
I hope our mission efforts will continue, especially the important work that was being done along the U.S. -Mexico border. It is unfortunate, and sad, that the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico decided to terminate our 139-year relationship. Hopefully, we can continue to engage in dialogue with the church in Mexico. I hope everyone at McCormick read the letter sent to Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who strongly affirmed the PC (USA)’s decision to approve Amendment 10-A, despite the divisions that that decision has caused with some of our partner churches.
Do you think that this relationship can be repaired in the future and if so, how?
This question is probably better answered by those within the PC(USA) who are more familiar with the workings of the church in Mexico. I think there are difficult issues dividing us — significantly the Mexican church’s decision in August to sustain its policy of not ordaining women — but I know that we in the PC(USA) will always be open to conversation about how to move forward together to address the significant issues of how we as Presbyterians can address violence and poverty in that area.
Since the passing of 10A in the PCUSA, several groups of churches are talking of leaving the denomination, the Fellowship group. I know you went to the gathering, can you tell us what went on there and your own thoughts about it?
I was gratified by the lack of anger, and by the welcome given to those of us in leadership in the denomination who attended the Fellowship meeting. I saw energy and excitement there. A lot of ideas about how to “do church” in the 21st century were talked about — and everyone can benefit from talking about how we can do ministry more effectively. At the same time, I think two points need to be emphasized. First, that the PC(USA) is deeply engaged in figuring out how we “do church” in the 21st century — this is not something that has sprung up from the Fellowship.
Second, the focus on “missional church” can obscure the fact that the genesis of the Fellowship is opposition to G-2.0104(b). If we want to talk about how to be a more effective, a more missional church, let’s do that together. Separating into two separate bodies does not help that effort. Separating on the basis of opposition to the Constitution is schism, which I believe does harm to the Body of Christ.
Any thoughts about what might come from this?
I hope that folks within the Fellowship — and I have to emphasize that I know them to be faithful, committed Christians — will come to understand that separation does nothing except diminish the effectiveness of our Presbyterian witness. Whether they come to understand that, I don’t know.
Are you planning on going to the Next Church gathering in Dallas, TX?
Yes, I plan to be there.
Once your moderator duties are over, what’s next for you?
Good question — and I wish I knew the answer! I think by next July I will not only be a former Moderator, but also retired from BNA, so I will have the opportunity of much more free time. I think I’ll just sit around doing nothing for a month or so, and then find some particular niche within the church where I can be of service.
Thanks Cindy! Always good to catch up!
Well folks, there you have it. Cindy is pretty great about answering questions, so if you have any further questions or thoughts, then just send them!
Be on the lookout for Friday’s blog and also be on the lookout for our newest contributor, Wes Pitts. Wes is a first year student here at McCormick. I’m partially fond of him because he hails from the great city of Atlanta. And you can’t go wrong there, right?!
Until next time!
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