From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New Mexico Pastor Joins Moderator Race

Date 04 May 1996 20:36:46


95356         New Mexico Pastor Joins Moderator Race 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Rev. John Clark Poling, pastor of First Presbyterian 
Church in Las Cruces, N.M., has become the second announced candidate for 
moderator of the 208th General Assembly (1996).  Poling was endorsed Sept. 
30 by Sierra Blanca Presbytery. 
     He joins the Rev. Norm Pott, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of 
San Rafael, Calif.  (Redwoods Presbytery), in the race for moderator.  The 
Assembly is scheduled for next June 29-July 5 in Albuquerque, N.M. 
     Poling is from the area where he now serves, having been born in El 
Paso, Texas. He grew up there and in Philadelphia and Salem, Ore.  A 
graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, Poling spent two years in 
the Peace Corps in Ecuador prior to attending Princeton Theological 
     He served pastorates in Duncanville and Arlington, Texas, and 
Downington, Pa., before coming to Las Cruces.  The 550-member Las Cruces 
church is 112 years old, having been started as an Hispanic mission church 
by Santa Fe Presbytery. 
     Poling has served on both the Synod of the Southwest and Sierra Blanca 
Presbytery budget committees.  He is currently on the presbytery's 
Committee on Ministry and Mission 2000 Task Force. 
     He describes himself as a moderate.  "After conversations with folks 
in the middle, I have found that we're always in the cross fire," he told 
the Presbyterian News Service.  "If you look at the Presbyterian Church 
theologically, it's a pretty normal bell curve -- I want to keep the bell 
ringing without being too distracted by all the racket from the fringes." 
     Poling said "mission is what's important to my congregation.  The 
Presbyterian Church needs to keep lifting that up, to get churches on the 
sidelines back into the heart of denominational life."  He said what he 
brings to the office of moderator is the ability to "be a fair moderator 
during the Assembly and then an advocate for Presbyterian mission during 
the following year." 
     Poling insisted reconciliation is possible in the contentious 
Presbyterian Church.  "Look, I come from a family that represents all the 
extremes of thought and theology and points in between in the Presbyterian 
Church," he explained, "and we still love each other, so it can be done." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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