The theme for the 2017 National Gathering is “Wells & Walls: Well-Being in a Thirsty World.” Our guiding scripture is John 4:1-42 – the Samaritan woman at the well.
In John 4 we are told of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, her encounter with her people, and Jesus’ words to the disciples. In the person and story of Jesus Christ we see movement across barriers, new understanding, and life-giving transformation as a consistent pattern.
As we look toward the 2017 National Gathering, as we invite local congregations and regional leadership to come together in the nation’s heartland of Kansas City, we recognize there are many walls and wells that manifest in our lives. In March of 2017 —
- we are in the early months of a new US presidency (and after an embittered, fear-based campaign season),
- we watch the global unrest created by the largest refugee crisis in history,
- we continue – 9 months in – with new leadership in our highest PCUSA church offices,
- congregational life continues to be growing slowly for some and declining for most in the North American church,
- we continue to negotiate what it means to be a “big tent” denomination that holds space for minority voices,
- we confess our fears that manifest in racism, homophobia, demonization, and polarization.
In thinking about this national gathering, we want to explore how we — as disciples and as the church — participate in Jesus’ pattern of moving across barriers, new understanding, and life-giving transformation. In short, finding and offering well-being.