Why I Want to Stand for Moderator


In late June, 2002, I led a group of seminarians in an 11-day exploration of the Arizona/Sonora borderlands with a focus on hearing the stories of migrants. Toward the end of our journey, we spent an evening with migrants who were just getting off the bus in the town plaza in Altar, Sonora. In about an hour, I had conversations with a young couple from Veracruz who had left their three-year old daughter behind to look for work in Kansas, a 16-year old boy from Chiapas (an evangelical Christian) who was hoping to make it to North Carolina, and a man desperate to get to New York to learn what he could of his brother and his son, both of whom were working in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, and neither of whom had been heard from since.

That night, which we spent on the floor of the Catholic run migrant center in Altar, I found that I couldn't sleep. I sat in the dark – all night – thinking about the people I had met and wondering how to put their stories before the church. That night I discerned a clear sense of call to stand for the position of moderator of the PC(USA).

All my life I've tried to imagine what Jesus would do, how Jesus would act, whom Jesus would care for in our world today. Since my childhood and throughout my adult life, I have experienced many different kinds of "call." I know about the sense of call that grows out of a lifelong connection to the church. I've experienced the kind of call that demands we step into something unknown without a clear sense of direction from God but with the conviction that God is calling us to something beyond ourselves. I've lived the kind of call that comes from being in a faith community and following the discipline of that community to unexpected places. I know about the call that comes from a sharpening sense of what God is asking of us as we learn about ourselves over time.

However, I've only rarely experienced the kind of call that comes from revelation in the middle of the night – in the midst of prayer and in response to deep hurt and a desire to respond directly to God and to that hurt.

I feel called by God to try to put before the church the concerns of those who suffer in our rush toward a global economy without taking responsibility to build a global community. I feel called to highlight the deaths of so many migrants, on the border where I live and all over the world, who have forfeited their lives in their attempt to provide for their families. I feel called to help make our Church a church that has as its first priority Jesus' command to care for the "least of these."

Since that moment of call, my conviction has grown that the church needs leaders who will witness to the good news of Jesus Christ for all people, who will help our church to know that we have been saved by grace for a reason: to do Christ's work in the world. Now is the time to develop leaders who will help the Church stand firmly with Jesus in a world of violence and greed, and who will lead, as much as possible, by our own example. Mission in our world today begins at the front door of each sanctuary, and our worship should give us the strength to go out and make a real difference in that world. With God's grace, and with the invitation of the General Assembly, that's the kind of message I feel called to share with the Presbyterian Church (USA).