Shamaine Chambers King, Candidate for Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Shamaine Chambers King, Candidate for Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) June 2, 2012

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.

Shamaine Chambers King –  Teaching Elder, Des Moines Presbytery

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

She loves ministry and is excited to be part of what God is doing in the church and in the world. Although uncertain what the future will hold, she is confident that God has a plan for the church and expectantly watches for the Spirit’s leading. Her congregation’s story, along with many other experiences of grace, give her great hope that the church can faithfully follow Christ’s call to love God, care for our neighbors, share the good news, make disciples and be witnesses.

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)?

Our denomination is in such an interesting and precarious place—striving to be faithful and declining in numbers. Angry and hurt, we are struggling, splintering and doing amazing mission and ministry in an atmosphere of mistrust and fear.

I like Randy’s history of seeking relationship with those with whom he disagrees and his commitment to creating strong, healthy churches. To moderate is to preside over. It can also mean to make less extreme. This suits me. I usually find myself somewhere in the middle. When I look down the Paul’s list of gifts, I would like to pick something flashier but I am a peacemaker. I understand both sides of both sides. It might not be the gift I would chose, but it is the gift God gave me and right now we need some peace.

In the current arguments, I have good friends on both sides. We are tearing ourselves apart while trying to be obedient to scripture. I want us to listen to each other and put our time, talents and treasures to work as witnesses for Christ. It may be naive and simplistic, but I believe the Spirit can work in us to find common ground, trust each other, follow Jesus, and build the kingdom.

God is at work in our church and there are great things in our future. I am willing to stand for Vice-Moderator because I think the PC(USA) is a great way of being church. I am willing to give two years to celebrate what we are doing well and challenge us to make peace and do better by God’s church.

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

The first thing I’d ask an un or de-churched person is why they are asking the question. If I can understand whatever hurt, pain, confusion, or apathy they carry, we can find common ground. I like to share the cause of my joy and hope, that following Jesus gives my life meaning and purpose. I might also share my own frustrations with the church. The church is made up of people and that means that we get it wrong, more often than not. It is far from perfect but God choses to work through us. The flawed and broken people are also the best thing about church. Belonging to a community of faith can hold you up when life is falling apart.

Sometimes people have been so hurt they can’t think of going to a church. It is easy to confuse faith and religion. We don’t have to go to church to follow Jesus, but we can’t do it alone either. Jesus said that wherever two or more were gathered in his name, he was there also. Church is more than a building or a bunch of people. There are lots of ways of being church. The important thing is to gather with at least one other person to share the journey, hold you accountable, pray and study God’s word together. As you grow in faith and knowledge of God, you are drawn into relationship with others for worship, prayer, fellowship, study and service. My offer is to begin the journey with them or to help them find someone to walk with them because it God intends for us to be in life-giving community.

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

Worship is the most important item of business before the GA. When we debate issues, we focus on what divides us. We can easily confuse intellectual prowess and powers of persuasion with our calling as God’s people. Worship reminds us who we are, whose we are and why we have been called together. We celebrate our common mission and ministries; recognize our sin and our unity; respond to God’s call to love and forgive; and become the church set loose by the Spirit on the world. In worship, our differences dissolve as we sing God’s praise in a common language of love and feast together at God’s table.

We live in a fallen world. On this side of Eden, our perspectives and decisions are flawed. My hope for GA is that the Holy Spirit will move in such a way that our work together is a witness to God’s grace and glory not just another story for the newspapers about the debates of a denomination.

Our system is damaged. Those who shout their opinions the loudest, or argue the best, are heard. The majority isn’t always right. We need to listen so we can trust those with whom we disagree. We need new ways of doing the business of the church, ways that celebrate all the amazing things that God is doing in the world. So whatever business comes before the assembly, my prayer is that we share our perspectives as those focused on Christ, who have gathered, prayed, sung, confessed, heard God’s word, offered ourselves, broken bread and been sent out in love.

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

  • Although I love being a wife, mom and pastor, most people would find my life pretty boring.
  • I love eating local, cheap, ethnic, and spicy. I can eat almost any kind of hot pepper.
  • Growing up, I was Presbyterian, primitive Baptist and Assembly of God before choosing to be confirmed in the Presbyterian church.
  • My grandmother was Chickasaw and a flapper dancer with her sister in Chicago in the 1920’s.
  • Someday, I hope to backpack one (or all) of the three US North-South trails (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide or Pacific Crest) and ride my bike coast to coast.

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

In 2007 I was called to a church that had recently split over many of the same issues currently facing the PCUSA. By focusing on the basics—worship, knowledge of God’s word and fellowship—they have healed and grown. Our budget reflects a commitment to mission. Discipleship and outreach are top priorities for our future. Growing together in faith is slow and steady work but the Sprit is moving which gives me hope for the larger church. When we stop fighting—however that happens—God can begin to work. It may be slow. It may be small. It will not look like it does now. It will involve angst and grief. But God is at work.

Jesus calls us to love and unity, but we are polarized. We try to include all kinds of voices but many of our most vibrant churches and pastors are left out. They have much to teach us about practices of thriving churches. Many of them are struggling about whether they can stay in the denomination. They have to be part of the conversation. We need them and we need to trust and listen.

My wildest dream for our church is that we put the best of our energies and resources into equipping strong, healthy congregations and pastors to grow faithful disciples on fire for the gospel! I want us to be known less for being at odds with each other and more for our grace-filled, life-giving congregations. I hope we can put less energy into maintaining buildings, bureaucracy, the status quo and more into loving God, serving others, and doing God’s will in the world.

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: Randy and ShamaineRobert and HopeNeal and TaraSusan and James

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