From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Presbyterian Stewards Agree:

Date 04 May 1996 20:43:32


95351             Presbyterian Stewards Agree: 
        PC(USA) must Stick with World Council of Churches 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
GENEVA--Though their paths to the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central 
Committee meeting here are very different, Presbyterian stewards Corey 
Nelson and Hagen Thompson agree on one thing: Continuing Presbyterian 
Church (U.S.A.) involvement in the WCC is crucial. 
     After several years of teaching school, Nelson is on a 
yet-to-be-defined career path in the Presbyterian Church.  He quit teaching 
to become a PC(USA) volunteer-in-mission in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 
July 1993 to July 1994.  He then served for a year in the church's 
volunteer recruitment office in Louisville.  Following his two-week stint 
as a steward for the Central Committee's meeting here, he heads to Ghana 
for another yearlong assignment before enrolling next fall at McCormick 
Theological Seminary in Chicago. 
     "I really didn't know very much about the WCC until I went to 
Belfast," Nelson said.  "Seeing the churches there trying to work together 
sparked my interest in the wider ecumenical movement in general and the WCC 
in particular." 
     He learned about the opportunity to be a WCC Central Committee meeting 
steward while working with Kerry Rice, associate for mission volunteers, in 
the Louisville offices, and was selected to be one of 38 young people from 
WCC member churches all over the world to serve as stewards for the Sept. 
14-22 meeting here. 
     Rice was also instrumental in Thompson's application and acceptance as 
a WCC steward.  This Central Committee meeting, the 46th, marks the first 
time two U.S. Presbyterians have been chosen as stewards.  As a college 
student three years ago, Thompson, who hails from Milledgeville, Ga., 
attended a young adult consultation in Los Angeles sponsored by the 
     "I met Kerry there and ever since he has been flooding me with 
volunteer service opportunities," Thompson recalled.  He applied to be a 
steward in January 1994 --  "I had never heard of the WCC before then" -- 
and heard nothing for several months.  In the meantime, Thompson graduated 
from college and went to work in Milledgeville as a bank loan officer. 
     When the call came notifying him of his selection, Thompson accepted 
and arranged to take his two weeks annual vacation to go to Geneva. 
     "It is so refreshing to meet people from all over the world," Thompson 
reflected.  "These folk from so many cultures and situations ... help me 
begin to understand that Christianity is a global thing. In the U.S. people 
so often feel there's the United States and nothing else." 
     Nelson said the different "perceptions and understandings of world 
politics and events and how different people's faith impacts their 
understandings is fascinating because U.S. perspectives are very singular 
-- you don't really see this until you are exposed to the others." 
     Nelson and Thompson are quite realistic in their appraisal of just how 
much the WCC can accomplish. 
     "There is certainly not going to be consensus on all things, or even 
very many things," Nelson noted.  "The greatness of the WCC is in being in 
a position to listen and learn -- Presbyterians could learn so much." 
     Thompson said "it's a necessity" that the PC(USA) stay involved in the 
WCC.  "It brings us eye-to-eye with Christians in other parts of the world 
who are carrying the gospel to their people," he explained.  "We need to be 
aware of what they're doing with us as a whole fellowship of Christians." 
     The changing nature of the PC(USA) is another factor in the importance 
of the WCC, Nelson added.  "We are becoming a more multiracial, 
multicultural church so it becomes more and more critical to understand the 
cultures and churches of other countries," he said.  "To isolate ourselves 
is to sink ourselves." 

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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