[Note: two weeks ago, several folks gathered in Atlanta to discuss the future direction of the PCA. Each of the speakers were asked to address the topic, "What would be my dream for the PCA?" I was the last of the five speakers; this is what I hope for.]
My best friend growing up in northern Virginia was a guy named Tucker Darby. Tucker was larger than life in so many ways: at six foot-four inches, he played offensive guard for Oakton High School’s football team. Everywhere Tucker went, people followed him—old ladies cackled over him; young boys looked up to him; girls secretly admired him. But he was my best friend.
And I needed him as my friend—because by nature I am pretty quiet, a little introverted. In ways that I can’t or don’t understand, there were parts of me that Tucker filled out—his fun-loving, devil-may-care attitude contrasted with my cautious, but-my-dad-may-care feelings; his confidence supplied my insecurity; and his caring (as much as a football player can care) overcame my fearfulness. I needed him as a friend.
But the truth was that he needed me as his friend as well—because even though the girls secretly admired him, they actually went out with me and so I would supply him with dates. Even though the old ladies like him, they fed me and so they would feed him too. And even though he was athletic, he was still an offensive lineman; I was a quarterback (on a bad team) at a different high school—further up the intellectual totem pole, if you know what I mean. And so, even though I needed him, he needed me as well—and that is why throughout high school, our friendship worked so well: we recognized that we were friends who supplied what the other lacked.
There is something similar here to what I think about our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. I genuinely believe that I need each of you here—that each of you supplies something out of your divine giftedness that I lack and desperately need. Perhaps there are things that I bring to this conversation that will strengthen you as well. Yet, at the end of the day, I truly believe that we need each other, that God has called us together to be friends, the church in and for this world.
As you look around this room and you think about the broad contributions these and other friends have made to God’s vision for us as his church, I think we could say at least three things, all of which can be drawn from our denominational name. First, you friends remind me that God has called this denomination to be Presbyterian, faithfully so—living out our unique beliefs, practices, and stories before a watching and wanting world.
As my friends, you also remind me about the larger Church: that God calls us to be evangelically catholic in our orientation.
Finally, you my friends remind me that our denomination as a part of Christ’s church catholic must see ourselves as God’s agents of gospel mission in America and the world. And so, you remind me that God calls us to be appropriately, winsomely, and biblically missional, joining with God in his mission to this world in which he is making all things new.