Hope Italiano Lee, Candidate for Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

In an attempt to help folks get to know the candidates for Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I have asked the Moderatorial and Vice-Moderatorial Candidates a few questions. You can find links to all of their responses HERE and you can follow most of the candidates on Twitter HERE. Thanks for taking the time to read their responses and please feel free to share this with friends, leave a comment or ask a question.

CANDIDATE FOR  VICE- MODERATOR w/Robert Austell
Hope Italiano Lee -  Teaching Elder, Peace River Presbytery
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A snippet from Hopes’s responses in the 2012 Moderatorial Handbook:

There are wonderful moments that every congregation, regardless of size or location, can discover when they look at their neighborhood, their immediate community, and the world right outside their window and realize that they weren’t meant to be just a building, but the church…..and the church has nothing to do with even having a building. God has given us everything we need to be successful in ministry.

Knowing that being Moderator/Vice-Moderator will require a great deal of time and energy from you and your community, why give in this way to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

Having personally encountered the transformative grace of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit we simply cannot contain that Good News. Kirkwood is a church that has experienced that transformation, as ones who were written off by many and thought to be on death’s doorstep having gone through the loss of a long-time pastor, a failed interim, and the hemorrhage of many, many members. In the last two years, we have gone from that place into a place of health, vitality, and growth. So, when we were approached about giving in this way there was no question in the mind of any of the church leadership that as ones who have been met with the radical grace of God that we had an obligation to share such grace as a witness and encouragement to the PC(USA). We see this not just as a sacrifice for me, as the Pastor, my family, or Kirkwood, but for all of us together, as a gift of gratitude to God for the church.

If someone were to ask you, “Why should I bother going to church?” how would you respond?

Living on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I am struck by two things : (1) the incredible blessing and wonder of creation and (2) the phenomenal number of people who feel alone and abandoned. Both of these things lend themselves to the desire to go to church. Human beings need an outlet for expressing thanksgiving. You cannot stand on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and not be overcome with the awesomeness and creativity of the world around you. Who thought such a masterpiece up? Who put in the time and effort to arrange the sand and the waves just so? Church provides a way to begin searching for the answers to such questions and brings to light the extraordinary love of a Creator who not only gives life, but gives it abundantly with such beauty and grace. Through the church, we are given an outlet for praise and thanksgiving. Since we are the retirement capital of the U.S., there are many here who are literally alone in this world. We have found that sometimes the church is the only place where they experience the touch of another human being all week long. Many come because they are alone, but all leave knowing the love of Jesus Christ as it is demonstrated to them by the people of the church. As the weeks go by, those who have come out of curiosity and need, find that they are wanted, adored, and included in the body of Christ and then, in turn, want to share that with others who are lost.

Choose one item of business or issue that will be coming up at General Assembly and share your perspective.

I came to Christ through the ministry of the Beth-El Farmworker’s Mission, a ministry to migrants – some documented, some not. I’m also married to Sung, whose family immigrated to this country from South Korea when he was 2. For these reasons I’m strongly drawn to issues of immigration. Of interest to me is overture 12-02 from Grand Canyon Presbytery. I applaud Grand Canyon for bringing up an overture that was addressed in 2004, but has not seen adequate progress towards justice and ministry with immigrants. It is not enough for us to just make a statement and then walk away without following through. Florida ranks #3 in the country for cases of human trafficking. Some of those cases can be linked to undocumented female farm workers who, run a high risk of sexual abuse, unable to defend themselves for fear of losing their jobs or possible deportation. As a working mother, I cannot stand by and let other mothers have to make the choice between their dignity and their ability to feed their children. As a confessing Christian, I cannot close my eyes to the struggles of these families who work so very hard to give their children a better life. One of the issues that many of us don’t realize is that the average farmworker, is not likely to be able to cover childcare in addition to basic necessities of a family. This means children are often left to their own devices. The church can meet this need…regardless of language, political stance, or cultural barriers.

What are a few things that most people would never guess about you: interests, adventures or . . .?

I met my husband at the PC(USA) Y2K event in Indianapolis. Two months later, we ran into each other again when we were both called upon to serve on the Montreat Youth Conference Planning Teams. Even though we’d gone through the ordination process at the same time, in the same presbytery, we’d never met each other. Although we’ve been married 10 years, we still look back at our wedding day as a “theme wedding”, a collision between our Presbyterian heritage and a gathering of the United Nations. Our wedding was officiated by Sygnman Rhee, Roger Nishioka, and Jim Simpson (a Scottish pastor who ran through the terminal at BWI in full kilt to be on time for the wedding). Our bridal party was made up of people from 10 different nationalities, coming together from 7 different states. The rehearsal dinner was at a traditional Korean restaurant and the reception featured authentic Maryland cuisine. It was complete chaos, but so much fun. Since then we’ve had two children and we’ve learned that unlike many of our friends who have no idea what their children will look like, we can be certain that with our mix of Korean/Italian/Native American that our children will always have dark, dark hair, brown eyes, and a wonderful skin tone! As a family, our most favorite place to vacation is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire – this is because of the fresh air, the open space, and extremely limited cell phone coverage!

WILD CARD: Answer any question you want, one that someone has yet to ask or choose from some that have been asked here: http://bit.ly/KwiN07

Duncan M. asked, “I’m curious about the practical ministry experience of the candidates … How is your church doing in being/becoming a vital expression of the gospel in the context in which you serve?…”

Kirkwood has gone from being irrelevant to our community to being completely vital. There are many in our surrounding neighborhoods who depend on us to be there and count on us to be a part of the larger community. This radical transformation has happened in the last two years. We took a long, hard look at how the community saw us and realized that if our building was leveled, no one would even notice. So, we changed our whole vision for the church and we literally walked the streets around us, talking to families and individuals, companies, non-profits, and schools, and asking them about their needs. And we talked to our members about their perceived identity as a congregation. The end result was a brand new vision plan that the whole communal life of our church is centered around. Every ministry team considers the Gospel value of any activities that they are looking at before they are launched. Now, we are the first call that many schools, businesses, non-profit s, and neighbors make when they are looking to impact and effect change in our area of West Bradenton. We have launched a third service which is comprised mostly of the un-churched and we now know almost all of our neighbors by name – because they come to worship and other ministries.

Thanks again to all of the candidates for being part of this process. While we obviously hold all of the candidates in prayer throughout this process, please be sure to pray for their communities of service, their families and all who are supporting them during this time.

For all of the candidates’ links and responses click HERE or go directly to the individual responses: Robert and HopeNeal and TaraSusan andJamesRandy and Shamaine

Tara Spuhler McCabe, Candidate for Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

In an attempt to help folks get to know the candidates for Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I have asked the Moderatorial and Vice-Moderatorial Candidates a few questions. You can find links to all of their responses HERE and you can follow most of the candidates on Twitter HERE. Thanks for taking the time to read their responses and please feel free to share this with friends, leave a comment or ask a question.

CANDIDATE FOR  VICE-MODERATOR w/Neal Presa
Tara Spuhler McCabe –  Teaching Elder, National Capital Presbytery

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A snippet from Tara’s responses in the 2012 Moderatorial Handbook:

We are part of your team to grow in the integrity and strength of a church in the Body of Christ. And I do not want to be shy about this. We work hard and with deep faith in being a church, a body, a vibrant and faithful body. All of this is what I love in being a part of this particular body. We are currently in a time not unlike any other time, when we are all tasked to be faithful witnesses. May we be encouraged to get a sense of how our traditions give us the foundations for being creative collective folk. Again, all of this is precious!

Knowing that being Moderator/Vice-Moderator will require a great deal of time and energy from you and your community, why give in this way to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

I love church: the people, the worship but more importantly the ways in which church and church people are and can be in the world.

I have served a particular congregation for 12 years, in the city. We are busy and we are deep in our faith practices. All of this by claiming who we are, Presbyterians and who we belong to, our Lord and Savior. I welcome an opportunity, with the moderator, to learn how other churches and presbyteries are and can engage their faith and church life with the community and the world around them.

I sense that I have been in a bubble, a great one. But now, I would like to share my zeal as well as learn more about others in our denomination. My family and friends have affirmed this call as an opportunity for me as well as an opportunity with the denomination. We all are ready for the time and work.

If someone were to ask you, “Why should I bother going to church?” how would you respond?

This is an essential question for each of us. Frankly, I am not in the ministry to prove myself or the church to others.

I am in ministry to be present with others in their yearnings and desires of belonging and faith. I would want to listen to what church means or does not mean for this person. Then offer responses on the variety of churches and why.

And I would share that for me, church is a unique group of folk that are in relationship with one another based on a link that is deeper and more than just themselves, be it faith and ultimately, our Triune God.

Church for me, is where I need to be so that I will live beyond just myself and live for others, as Christ has lived, died, and risen so that we are able to live into New Life…this is the deep stuff that takes a relationship to share.

And I would have to be frank, I love church! Hope they would welcome a partner if they are interested in church shopping?

Choose one item of business or issue that will be coming up at General Assembly and share your perspective.

Non-geographic Presbyteries. How we as a denomination respond and work in this question and concern, will firstly, say to others how we live out diversity and live into unity. Even if folks might think others are not interested in what we are doing, we could still present models of being a body of Christ.

Secondly, times right now for each of us in our denomination ask us to be intentional as well as creative in being a denomination. But I am concerned that in some of our creative ways, we are dividing ourselves even more. Not completely sure myself what is possible but I do want to stay in relationship with the traditions of our faith and in the creative practices of the Spirit.

What are a few things that most people would never guess about you: interests, adventures or . . .?

  • I dance by myself in my office all the time!
  • I am more of a Sci-Fi junkie and Marvel Comics fan then one would think. I like getting lost in the adventures.
  • I grew up in a Presbyterian Church and in a store front free will Baptist church…I have stayed true to the prayin’ and singin’.
  • I am a Disney World freak…not Disneyland.
  • There have been three ordained clergy in my extended family, and I am the first female of the three.

WILD CARD: Answer any question you want, one that someone has yet to ask or choose from some that have been asked here: http://bit.ly/KwiN07

If I were ever stuck in an elevator with a Presbyterian, an Occupier, and an elected official for 5 hours, how would we spend the time together?

The occupier would immediately be able to set up camp and begin with a mic check…
Elected Official would desire to find out where we each are from…
And the Presbyterian would ask if we could form a committee to strategize getting out of here…

What is fantastic is that all three, with very different energies and perspectives are all starting at the same place…gathering together and checking in. They are building a relationship.

Since occupy is never feeling heard and the politician wants to be heard, the Presbyterian can offer an ordering of worship. Yes worship.

Not that all will be solved but through worship, we are gathered, our confessions of our failings in living to our highest potential for God are shared together. Assurance in God’s steadfast grace and abundance is proclaimed. Then with scripture we grapple with a brokenness that is present among our politicians and our occupiers. We seek solace in a faith that heals and mends all things!

Then we offer! We offer possibilities in mending the brokenness. We compromise, maybe. We create. We practice living into resurrection. Not out of our own needs and desires but out of God’s highest potential for God’s creation. Then we are sent on our way by the good people who fixed our elevator!

This question has been my ministry lately and it is possible.

Thanks again to all of the candidates for being part of this process. While we obviously hold all of the candidates in prayer throughout this process, please be sure to pray for their communities of service, their families and all who are supporting them during this time.

For all of the candidates’ links and responses click HERE or go directly to the individual responses: Neal and TaraSusan and JamesRandy and ShamaineRobert and Hope

 

 


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