Saturday morning I had the opportunity to meet Cynthia Bolbach, the Moderator of the PCUSA, at a reception in Houston.
I was very happy to have the chance to make her acquaintance in person because she is one of QG's Gentle Readers and I got to talk with her over the phone and by podcast when she, the Vice Moderator Landon Whitsitt and I recorded the podcast discussing the Sola Kerfuffle.
Cindy and I may not see eye to eye on everything. However in person we see exactly eye to eye, literally! We can agree that the best Moderators are women attorneys of a "certain age" and well over 6 feet tall. ~grin~
We had a small but eager group from Presbytery of New Covenant gathered for a Q&A session. Cindy displayed the same ease and good humor she showed when she moderated GA this summer. She is honest, forthright and even-handed in her comments.
My question to her was what "elevator speech" I could give to the new elder training class I am involved with at church about the difference between the proposed NFOG and the current provisions in the Government section of the Book of Order. (Sorry for the PresbySpeak, y'all, but if you don't know you don't really want all the details.)
Her answer was both succinct and very usable: the NFOG represents a Constitutional, or broad principles, concept of church government as compared to the detailed rules and procedures manual that this section of the BOO has become over the years as it has been expanded by multiple amendments.
I can make the comparison to the Texas Consititution which has umpty-ump-umpteen amendments versus the Constitution of the United States which has only 27, including the 10 called the Bill of Rights. Of course the federal statutes are WAY longer and take up multiple shelves on the bookcases of legal libraries and law firms. The Texas Constitution has become a Rulebook while the US Constitution sets forth broad principles of governance.
When someone asked Cindy what would prevent future GA's from continuing the practice of multiple amendments to the NFOG if it were passed, she readily admitted that there was no way to guarantee that would not happen. Habits and the culture of the denomination are hard to change.
Liberals and conservatives alike have expressed frustration with the difficulty of complying with the present form of government provisions of the BOO. But a lack of trust on all sides may prevent the NFOG, or any major overall of the current system, from passing.
I really appreciate the fact that Cindy is highlighting the importance of ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church. I mentioned to the group her excellent article from The Presbyterian Leader, The Awesome Task of Elders, and had several folks ask me afterwards how to find a copy of it for their sessions. Here is the link.
Thanks, Cindy, for taking the time to meet with us in Houston and for your service to the church. May God guide and bless you during your term!