From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Witherspoon Society luncheon is SRO

Date 16 Jun 2002 20:14:48 -0400

Note #7231 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Witherspoon Society luncheon is SRO
June 16, 2002

Witherspoon Society luncheon is SRO

2 Columbus congregations share Whole Gospel Congregational Award 

by Nancy Rodman

COLUMBUS, OH - It was standing room only when members and guests of the Witherspoon Society gathered for the society's annual luncheon and awards presentation. 

The featured speaker was Douglas Ottati, a professor of theology and ethics at Union Theological Seminary, in Richmond, VA, who outlined his notion of a progressive Presbyterian theology for now and the future. He said such a theology would: 

*  Be reformed and ecumenical;

*  Treat church traditions with respect, while recognizing that such traditions are human-created and therefore fallible;

*  Understand that the PC(USA) is heir to an ecumenical tradition, and part of a larger family of faith;

*  Recognize its place in the wider Christian family; and,

*  Recall that John Calvin himself appealed to church and classical traditions. 
Progressive Presbyterian theology, Ottati said, would be God-centered, Christ-shaped, and capacious, because Jesus Christ is good news for sinners, for the poor, and for outcasts. It is through Christ, not our actions or our faith, that we are beneficiaries of God's saving grace. "This is the big deal," he said, noting that Jesus discloses a faithful and gracious God, and this is why we do not limit salvation only certain groups.

Progressive Presbyterian theology also would be realistic, Ottati added, knowing that sin is a corruption of what we are meant to be, and that grace abounds - transforming life from diminution to abundance. And, he said, a progressive Presbyterian theology would be ecological and humane, rejecting ethno-centricity and knowing that humankind is only a part of God's creation.
Ottati concluded with a call for intensive theological reflection across the church.  "Put theological reflection on the front burner," he urged, "and leave it there."

Two partner congregations, Bethany Presbyterian and Broad Street Presbyterian churches, both of Columbus, were presented the Whole Gospel Congregational Award, which goes annually to a congregation that "proclaims and acts the whole Gospel." Bethany and Broad Street were honored for "advocacy of racial justice, concern for all, and their partnership" in a range of ecumenical and social programs.
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