PC(USA) Moderator Candidates’ Wildcard Question

For you Presbyterians out there, admit it, you know you are getting all excited about our upcoming General Assembly (July, 2012) just around the corner in Pittsburgh. The exhibit hall schwag, the stylish local host aprons and the endless arguing over what word works best: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet or So (FANBOYS).

Yes, we Presbyterians know how to party like it’s 1955.

In all seriousness, while there is much to critique my denominational family concerning a great many things, there is a genuine sense of family for many of us who attend our biennial national gathering. At our worst we model the full spectrum of  human brokeness and at our best, we allow the Holy Spirit to move in and through our hearts, minds and actiona. It’s a frustratingly wacky family, but it’s my family.

One of the geekiest and loveliest parts of our General Assembly is the election of our Moderator. This is the person who moderates the week-long meeting of roughly 1,000 commissioners and then travels and speaks on behalf of the denomination for the following two years. I held this office from 2008-2010 and, while exhausting beyond belief on so many levels, it was a great honor to serve. It really was. As a denomination without a bishop in our structure, the Moderator has no real political power, but there is a great affection for and openness to the office by more folks than I had ever expected. Easy to dismiss as an irrelevant position – and that reality is clearer at some times more than others – it’s still an important part of our denominational life together.

This year there are five candidates who have declared their intentions to “stand” for Moderator: Rev. Janet Edwards of Pittsburg Presbytery, Rev. Robert M. Austell Jr. of Charlotte Presbytery, Rev. Randy Branson of Palo Duro Presbytery; Rev. Sue Krummel of Great Rivers Presbytery; and Rev. Neal Presa of Elizabeth Presbytery. We do not “run” for the office, as this is not about a campaign for an individual to win, but a calling to for a community to discern. Part of that process is that the candidates answer questions before and during General Assembly from various organizations and entities. It will be completely up to them whether or not they respond and there is a general understanding that all candidates should be included in all public discussions.

This year I am going to pose a few questions to the  candidates as well as to those whom they have selected, should they be elected, to serve as vice-moderator. I will post their responses and links in the next few weeks.

This is where you come in.

One of the questions that I am going to ask them to answer is a wild card: “Answer one question that you would like to answer but have not been asked and/or select from any submitted on this blog post.” So if you have a question that you hope one/all might answer, please leave it in the comment section. It will be totally up to each candidate to choose which and whether they choose one from this pool of questions, but you never know. I will be sending the full slate of my questions to the candidates this weekend, so if you add your contribution soon the more likely it will be answered by one of the candidates.

DISCLAIMER: Just to be clear, I am doing this on my own and not as any official action of any General Assembly entity.

  • http://profiles.google.com/djmoonw David Moon-Wainwright

    As a commissioner I want to know how they will work and encourage the PC(USA) to become relevant to the world at large. We have and may continue to stand with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, but what about global issues of hunger and poverty/gluttony and wealth and the Church’s willingness to not challenge how they are used as weapons to control others?

  • Elizabeth C

    What practices, whether personal or corporate, do you participate in (and perhaps encourage others to do likewsie) that both encourage and strengthen your faith as well as deepen your ministry in your local communities?

  • Jake Horner

    Question: Does Jesus Christ approve, bless, and affirm homoerotic practice, and what are the implications of your answer for the church?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    The facts are true, she was not endorsed, but there is no requirement to be endorsed by one’s Presbytery to Stand For Moderator as a candidate can declare from the floor of General Assembly . . . the body that I speak of us the General Assembly. Still, if you could phrase this is the form of a questions, who knows, maybe Janet will address it. Also . . . as one who has been through the process there are always groups and people who support folks who tend towards their particular perspective. This takes place on all “sides” of the theological aisle.

  • Stushie

    “We do not “run” for the office, as this is not about a campaign for an individual to win, but a calling to for a community to discern.” 
    Except for Janet Edwards – she didn’t get support from her own Presbytery and is being backed by a lobbyist group…

  • Duncan MacLeod

    I’m curious about the practical ministry experience of the candidates – the polarizing debates of the day rarely get us around to asking about church health, in the many ways it is measured.  How is your church doing in being/becoming a vital expression of the gospel in the context in which you serve?  What practical steps have you taken in recent years to bring your church into health?

  • Reformed Catholic

    What are your theological beliefs, and where do you stand on the authority of Scripture?

  • Sara Benedetti

    What is a helpful and yet plausible solution/suggestion to the situation in the PCUSA where there more candidates graduating from seminaries each year than there are available positions in the church?

  • David R. Collins

    Seeing as how most of the congregations in the PC(USA) are declining, what leadership can you offer to churches who are trying to turn that around? How are the congregations that you serve doing in that regard?

  • Carolyn

    Since all the mod and vice-mod candidates are teaching elders, I would like to know more about their home congregations – demographics, worship attendance, local and global outreach work, stewardship, and other ways they are being the Body of Christ in the modern world.

  • Rich Hong

    Anyone knows that we get what we reward (and rewards come in many forms, from salary to recognition).  How would you change our system of rewarding/compensating/recognizing leadership so that we get more vibrant, growing, congregations?

  • Edie Gause

    As a number of congregations consider leaving the PCUSA for other denominations, how will you lead the PCUSA in caring for and encouraging those kernels of faithful congregational folk they will leave behind in most locations?

  • Claire Wirthington

    I note that Robert Austell is the only candidate from North Carolina. That state recently voted to amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriages. As a resident of that state, how did he vote and what is his position?

  • Jared Warren

    I would ask: “What is your most outlandish dream for the PC(USA)?  What would it look like for the PC(USA) to strive for that dream?  What would it look like for a moderator of the PC(USA) to strive for that dream?”

  • Andy Wong

    I would ask the candidates about how they understand evangelism in today’s postmodern world and what that means for a congregation, session or individual on the ground.


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