Monday, November 08, 2010

QG Meets THE Moderator

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!


Jules said...

I've yet to meet her in person, but I watched her an awful lot this summer on Live Streaming Geekery. She reminds me a lot of you. Glad you got talk to her!

RevDi said...

Thanks, QG, for an outstanding "report" on the Moderator's Meet & Greet in New Covenant. My regret: 6th largest presbytery, yet fewer than 50 folks present.

Quotidian Grace said...

Yes, Rev Di, I was also disappointed in the turnout. I think the Meet and Greet was well publicized by the presbytery.

stinuksuk said...

QG, the link doesn't appear to be working. More's the pity!

Quotidian Grace said...

Oh,shoot! The article is in the May 2010 issue of the Presbyterian Leader.

Google "the awesome task of elders" and a link to the pdf should come up right on top. Don't know why my direct link doesn't work.

You can also email me jody dot harrington at gmail dot com and I'll send it to you.

Robin said...

She is preaching at my home church and then coming to our Presbytery meeting in May! So I will just introduce myself as "QG's friend."

Quotidian Grace said...

That's awesome!

Cindy Bolbach said...

It was good to meet you, QG, and the rest of the folks from New Covenant. I enjoyed the discussion. And I agree fully about who makes the best moderators!

Anonymous said...

I was able to use Google to get to her article on "awesome task of elders". Having served I find that I relate to what she has written. There is more to the job than Session meetings, reports and budgets. Thank you for sharing is important at the moment given the NFOG proposal before the presbyteries after GA.

zorra said...

I'm glad you were able to go. I had it on my calendar (since I will probably be at the Presbytery meeting where nFOG will come up) then didn't get to go. Will definitely read that article.