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Results of the Presbyterian Theological Task Force

Nov 13, 2002 03:00 AM EST

LOUISVILLE-The Theological Task Force released the results of its October 24-46 meeting held in Louisville. The Task Force discussed trends in US social and religious life, as well as the fundamental theological themes.

"Throughout the meeting, which studied the social and religious context of today's Presbyterian church and the roots of the church's understanding of Jesus Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit was much in evidence in the growing sense of community among the 20 members who were selected because of their diversity." Said co-moderator Jenny Stoner.

The schedule followed the plans they had laid at their previous meetings. The planning team members for this meeting included: Victoria Curtiss of Ames, Iowa, Barbara Wheeler of New York, New York, Mark Achtemeier of Dubuque, Iowa and Milton J (Joe) Coalter of Louisville, Kentucky. Other participants lead presentations on different a variety of topics.

Barbara Everitt Bryant of Ann Arbor Michigan, who directed the 1990 U.S. Census, opened the meeting with a comprehensive report on population demographics. Bryant went through a detailed analysis on changing trends in population, mobility, ethnicity, age distribution, gender, labor and "social capital."

The informative paper compiled by Milton J. Coalter of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary focused on the issues of peace, unity, and purity from a religious context, which gave rise to the prospect that changing trends in U.S. religious practices are as complex as the demographic ones. The Task Force specifically concentrated on the changing trend toward "localizing" religious practices and congregational affiliations.

P. Mark Achtemeier of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary led the discussions on the issues of Christology. Achtemeier characterized the Nicene Creed as the "theological linchpin of classical Christianity, the ecumenical heart of the church and the presupposition of Presbyterian confessions and polity." He led a second presentation, examining "the work of Christ," and viewed the concepts of salvation and the cross in a Trinitarian perspective.

Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, presented a report to the Task Force, derived from his paper, "Common Faith, Common Mission." Kirkpatrick highlighted his hopes for the theological work of the Task Force to help the development of polity within the Presbyterian Church.

Other events at the meeting included the report on educational resources presented by Sacramento, California, and a time of reflecting the death of Elizabeth Achtemier of Richmond, Virginia, who died on October 25. Members gave prayers of gratitude and acknowledgement of the great contributions of Elizabeth Achtemier to the Presbyterian Chruch.

The Task Force worship leaders were Martha Sadongei, Jong Hyeong Lee, Josi Luis Torres-Milan, Barbara Bryant, Mary Ellen Lawson and Sarah Sanderson-Doughty.

The Task Force, which was mandated by the 213th General Assembly to address issues of contention facing the Presbyterian Church, will next meet February 20-22, 2003, to consider issues of scriptural authority and interpretation as well as the theology and practice of confessions in the Presbyterian Church.

By Pauline J.
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