Presbyterians have historically been heavily involved in volunteer service. How can the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) inspire and equip them to connect their humanitarian efforts to their Christian faith?

That’s one of the objectives of a new initiative being introduced to this year’s 221st General Assembly by the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). It has the working title “living missionally.”

“It started out as a ‘season of service’ focused on young adults,” said PMA Deputy Executive Director for Mission Roger Dermody today (April 24), “but as we talked about it, many of you asked us about ‘us older folk.’”

The PC(USA) has a historic commitment to mission, Dermody said, “but it hasn’t been a large part of our discernment conversations lately. Part of our effort is to lift up churches who are very missional in order to encourage others to become ‘a church without walls.’”

Rob Fohr, young adult catalyst for the PMA, cited several examples of “the good work already going on”:

  • “A Place to Sleep” ― a ministry started by a young Presbyterian in Shepherdsville, Ky., Jessica Collins, that provides 370 beds for kids in her community who didn’t have one;
  • “The Church has Left the Building” ― started in Woodside Presbyterian Church in Yardley, Pa., participating congregations exchange morning worship once a month for various community service projects. “The church is a sleeping giant,” Fohr quoted one pastor, “and on these days you see it wake up and get to work,”
  • “Service Worship” ― St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz., wanting to engage the community, started “service worships”  ― trading regular worship for service in its community.  

The Living Missionally initiative “calls us to reaffirm our commitment to mission, to encourage Presbyterians to engage intentionally in mission service, to launch a churchwide initiative to go beyond the walls of our congregations in service, and to develop plans and metrics to measure results in deeper engagement in years to come,” Dermody said.

“Our role, as with all our work as PMA, is to inspire, connect and equip, he said. “Let’s let everyone know, no matter where Presbyterians go, that when we’re worshiping and serving we do so in the name of Christ.”