The Presbyterian Coalition gathered for their annual dinner on Tuesday (July 3) at the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They came to honor Terry Schlossberg, retired renewal advisor, and to hear “Tough Talk for Challenging Times” from the Rev. John Huffman, who served as the pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach until his retirement in 2009.

“Putting evangelicals at the same table and asking them to sit there and listen to each other is herculean work.” said the Rev. Jerry Andrews, one of several giving tribute to Schlossberg. “If you were to look up ‘unflinching’ in the dictionary, there would Terry be.”  

The Rev. Jim Tony added more adjectives: determined, intelligent, steely, persistent and bright. “Terry has more courage than anybody I know. She will be remembered for her slogan: Stay. Fight. Win.”

After Schlossberg finally got the applauding crowd to resume their seats, she responded, “Thank you for persisting in the gospel all these years. You are here in support of what is right and true.

In his address, Huffman said, “I am one of the last of the stay, fight, win generation. Some of you younger ones are tired of fighting.” He lamented recent changes in the PC(USA), which has removed the prohibition against the ordination of people in same-gender relationships, and is extending benefits to same-sex couples through its medical and pension program.

“Two out of three shoes have dropped,” he said, urging those in attendance to work against any change by the PC(USA) in the definition of Christian marriage as between one man and one woman.

Even with all of the changes, Huffman issued a call to stay in the PC(USA), while admitting things probably will not go back to the way they were. He offered praise for the PC(USA)—for its polity, for its commitment to both spiritual renewal and justice, and for its commitment to women in ministry.

“For my first fifty years in ministry it was stay, fight, win,” he said. “For the next fifty years it will be: stay, serve, be faithful. I want to serve in a spirit of graciousness. I invite you to join with me in the civility of ministry that also never equivocates on the truth delivered to the saints.”