I’ve been present for the election of the moderator at General Assembly several times before. I’ve even watched it live streamed on more than one occasion. And while, in some respects, every one feels unique, this year felt especially different.
I shared this perspective with my friend Sandy, seated next to me. This is her first Assembly and she was very energized by the whole process. She wondered what seemed different.
It was different to only have two options (in my experience– perhaps it has happened before). And it always seemed before like we had the progressive candidate, the evangelical or conservative candidate, and often a moderate or hard to peg candidate.
This year, in some ways, both teams of candidates (and that was different– no matter how we voted we were going to end up with a collaborative, non-hierarchical team! Woohoo!) were basically progressive, but they also didn’t fit neatly into established boxes. Hallelujah! Might we be moving into a new, less polarized day in our church? Might that be what the Spirit is up to in this messy, transitional time when, as one of our new co-moderators asserted, we find out what God can do?
I had a question ready to ask. I jumped to a mic quickly and waited patiently. I didn’t get to ask it. I wanted to ask “If elected, you will serve as co-moderators of our denomination, a new leadership model for a new day. How does your understanding of this model relate to your vision for the future of the church?” So how might I answer it? Equal partnership, across differences, for the glory of God. May it be so.
(Another difference– There were no questions about human sexuality! But there was an outstanding question from a Young Adult Advisory Delegate about patriarchy and paternalism in liturgy!)
It is not a sexy time to be leader in a mainline denomination. I think the fact that our choice was between two testifies to this. But we have elected a humble yet confident, real and radical, amazing team of leaders. And I am unspeakably grateful Jan and Denise are willing to serve in this way. It was an immense privilege to play a tiny part in that process.