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.

Tara Spuhler McCabe –  Teaching Elder, National Capital Presbytery


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



Latifundialization and the Future of Occupy Wall Street

This post originally appeared on www.reyes-chow.com.

This past weekend on the heels of the raid of the 101 California Occupy SF encampment, I and other members of the faith community attended a rally in support of the ongoing presence of Occupy San Francisco.  Held right in the middle of Market Street in front of the Federal Reserve Building, there was a large group gathered to rally, to sing and to listen to speakers from a wide variety of Occupy Wall Street Supporters. There were supporterss from the encampment as well as Supervisors Eric Mar and David Campos; Carol Been, from Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice;  Dr. Vincent Harding, civil rights activist; Rev. John Fife, co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement; and Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, core leader of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.  The evening was topped of by an extended conversation with anti-war activist, Daniel Ellsberg.

If nothing else, being on location once again reminded me that we should never fully believe the sweeping generalizations made about any group without attempting to observe the group first hand. So much has been blown out of proportion or simply made up that I am not sure that anyone can get a true sense of an Occupy encampment without seeing it for themselves. As I made my way around the tents, talked with folks and observed the hustle and bustle of the encampment, there were certainly some things that have been said about Occupy San Francisco that are simply untrue.  Below I offer a few of the myths that are circulating about Occupy San Francisco and then I’ll get to the whole latifundialzation thing.

  • MYTH #1 – Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless movement.
    While there is great questioning about the merits of this movement because it is “leaderless” there are clearly people who are playing a leadership role: organizing, policing, motivating, etc. On more than one occasion I saw folks taking it upon themselves to do everything from making sure the crowd was respectful to the speakers to negotiating with the police to organizing the community. It may not look like the type of leadership that many of us are used to, but it is there.
  • MYTH#2 – The police are only interested in beating the crap out of Occupiers.
    The police are extremely patient. Yes, there are certainly some cops who let power go to their heads and use excessive force, but I could also point to a number of knuckleheads in the crowd for whom taunting and provoking the police at every opportunity seems to be priority number one. After one Occupier was jawing at a cop with profanity-laced taunts for over an hour, I kinda wanted to smack him, so I know the officer was exercising great restraint. From personal experience, and from what we have seen on the news, I would bet that the SFPD handles protests and civil disobedience far better than most other cities. As public servants, even amidst a barrage of obscenities and gestures, they bear the brunt of self-restraint and discipline and I am thankful for their ability to do so. While the police and government officials must be held accountable for their action, it is vital for all who support Occupy Wall Street to remember that the police are part of the 99% too.
  • MYTH#3 – Everyone who is part of Occupy Wall Street is a lazy, unemployed, smelly, homeless scalawag!
    Okay maybe the media has not been using the term “scalawag” all that much, but you get what I mean. Yes, there are a good number of homeless folks taking part in the encampments and I am sure that not everyone has the work ethic and determination of Rocky Balboa, but, please . . . If you talk with folks who are both living there as well as those who count themselves as part of the movement, buying into the whole “lazy hippie” dispersion, is pretty lazy in itself. Just as Tea Party folks resented being labeled as racist, homophobic, misogynistic, backwoods bigots because of the actions of a small number of their crew, we must be careful not to do the same even if there does happen to be a stinky slacker or two in the mix.

The Latifundialization factor . . .

Far from being an academic, one of the multisyllabic concepts that I do remember from my seminary training is latifundialization or the practice of accumulating land as a statement of power. Latifundialization takes place throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and signaled a shift in economic realties and the distribution of wealth.

That does not sound familiar AT ALL 😉

There is something profound about the nature of land and space in movements that have taken place across the generations. From being able to sit at a lunch counter of one’s own choosing to the owning of ones farming land, generation after generation across the world have found land and space crucial to the impact of any movement for social change. Today, just as in Biblical times, controlling land and space operates as a measure and statement of power.  Sure, technology and social media connects people like never before, but at some point real live human beings must be the first to claim a seat at the front of the bus, stand up against unjust housing policies and/or attempt to reclaim space that has been unjustly taken from them.  It should be no surprise that the actions of Occupy Wall Street have resulted in such violent responses by those who have been tasked with the governance of space, for if an Occupy encampment is allowed to hold onto that space, then there is a de-facto shift in power and control.

So while the battles over space still rage in cities around the word, Occupiers and supporters must begin to see a way forward in order to occupy the institutional land that is at the core of our social and economic disparities.  If the sacrifices that so many have made in these early actions are to have meaning, at some point Occupy Wall Street must create a shift in power that reaches beyond the geography of public parks and sidewalks and into the depths our social and economic heart and soul. If this is not done, then the movement runs the risk of no longer being the catalyst for transformation and could become a distraction from the transformation that needs to happen.

Herein ends the sharing of my thoughts born of my most recent Occupy San Francisco experience. No matter where you are or what you believe is happening, I urge you to take a stroll down do your local Occupy Wall Street encampment and see for yourself. . . because if you haven’t noticed, they are everywhere.