On July 1, members of the NEXT Church leadership teams (strategy and advisory) hosted a gathering at the 220th General Assembly. Teaching Elder Cindy Kohlmann attended that gathering and offers this report:
Here in Pittsburgh, the question underneath all the deliberations, conversations, and discussions is “what’s next for the PCUSA?” What will happen in the next few months? What will the denomination look like when we gather for the 221st General Assembly? What’s next?
Of course, we can ask these questions out of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, or we can ask these questions out of a sense of the deep abiding love of our Creating God, the faithfulness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the transformative breath of the Holy Spirit. How we ask the questions will say a lot about the answers we hear and discover.
The NEXT Church is seeking to ask, “what’s next?” out of a position of faith in a God who is not through with us or the Body of Christ yet. This group wants to join faithful Christians in a journey of discovering what God is calling us to do, and what God is already doing that we are being invited into. They’re asking the question, “what’s next?” with a joy and excitement that is welcome in the midst of these uncertain times.
Gathering with others in the chapel of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh on Sunday, July 1, we had an opportunity to engage in conversations about where we see God at work in our ministry contexts and where we are feeling called to enter into new ministry. The NEXT Church PCUSA operates with the reformed understanding that God has supplied everything we need in order to do what we are being called to do within the Body of Christ. Sharing our resources, our discoveries, our abilities, and our stories is a way to equip all the saints.
Reflecting on this offer to come together with others sharing in this journey of ministry gives me hope, even as the General Assembly stands divided on so many issues. The deep need to reach out to our neighbors, many of whom have no notion of the grace and love of Christ, can be a tie that binds, especially in such a time as this. Regionally and nationally, we can ask “what’s next?” in faith and with hope together.
Cindy Kohlmann is a Presbyterian teaching elder currently serving in two positions. She pastors a small multicultural church in Clinton, MA, where she has been welcomed into the local Cameroonian community, while also serving as the Resource Presbyter for the Presbytery of Northern New England. Her husband, Eric, is also a Presbyterian pastor, and together they share this amazing journey of ministry.