A Gathering of Presbyterians: Part I

August 24, 2011

Almost 2000 Presbyterians, brought together by concerns for the direction of the denomination, are meeting in Minneapolis, MN, through Friday. I am among them, listening and hoping that a unified vision will emerge as we spend the next two days together.

To start things off, an astonishing crowd of about 1000 gathered Wednesday evening for a pre-conference time of worship and prayer. The evening was organized around the six Great Ends of the Church, with Scripture, guided prayer, and songs related to each theme. Afterwards, 195 small group leaders gathered for a mini-preparation session. The organizational effort has been immense to deal with an expected crowd of 1950 participants tomorrow.  Great care has been taken to ensure that every person can share in the task of listening to God, to one another, and to one’s own conscience.

Nobody really knows how this thing is going to turn out.

I sense anticipation, joy, anxiety—all to be expected, I think.

But worship this evening at least brought us to the Central One and Only, in whose presence we are invited to drop our anxieties, fears, egos, hidden agendas, competitiveness, preconceived notions, and anything else that might stand in the way of being available for God’s bidding. The only way we are going to gather this event into a cohesive whole is if we live out our call to worship Christ, listen well, and be ready and willing to act in concert empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I am aware that there is a spiritual battle being played out as well. My belief is that this meeting will require our utmost attention to God’s Spirit to come out in the end with a spirit of unity, common purpose, respect and support for one another, and a creative response to the unsustainable and life-sucking situation we find ourselves in. There are voices out there showing contempt for what is happening here. There are attempts out there to drive wedges between evangelicals. I can only surmise that the enemy of unity would like to see this thing go nowhere, and result in dissention and ineffectiveness. May we all be attentive especially to what God wants to do in us, among us, and with us.

In an effort to find a place where evangelicals no longer feel they are fighting constant battles, we must not look for ease, but for courage. Courage will still be needed no matter where we land denominationally, not because there will be battles we can see but because our very existence anywhere is counter-cultural and other-worldly. Rather, may we ask God to give us the inner strength of faith and conviction to engage our world (even the Presbyterian house in that world) with the transforming gospel.

The conference schedule is packed, but I hope at least by day’s end to blog what I saw and experienced at this Gathering of Presbyterians. I will try to “bring the Word to life,” and in so doing, model a discipline of discernment previously addressed in my blog.

We’ve been told a Twitter feed #MN2011 will contribute insight for those watching from afar. I don’t do Twitter myself, but offer this as another way for my readers to find out what’s happening. Until tomorrow, God’s peace.

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2 Responses to “A Gathering of Presbyterians: Part I”

  1. Renee Guth Says:

    Thanks, Mary!


  2. In the Holy Name of Jesus, I break and dissolve any and all curses, hexes, spells, snares, traps, lies, obstacles, deceptions, diversions, spiritual influences, evil wishes, evil desires, hereditary seals, known and unknown, and every dysfunction and disease from any source including my mistakes and sins. In Jesus’ Name, I break and dissolve any and all links and effects of links with: astrologers; bohmos; channelers; charters; clairvoyants; crystal healers; crystals; fortune tellers; mediums; the New Age Movements; occult seers; palm, tea leaf, or tarot card readers; psychics; santeros; satanic cults; spirit guides; witches; witchdoctors; and Voodoo. In Jesus’ Name, I dissolve all effects of participation in seances and divination, ouija boards, horoscopes, occult games of all sorts, and any form of worship that does not offer true honor to Jesus Christ.

    Holy Spirit, please reveal to me through word of knowledge any evil spirits that have attached themselves to me in any way. (Pause and wait for words to come to you, such as: anger, arrogance, bitterness, brutality, confusion, cruelty, deception, envy, fear, hatred, insecurity, jealousy, pride, resentment, or terror. Pray the following for each of the evil spirits revealed)

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