What will the Kingdom Look Like?: The Moderator’s Message

Sonia Bodi headshotBy Sonia Bodi, Evanston First, 2015 Moderator of the Chicago Presbytery

In their ordination and/or installation service, some teaching elders have as part of their liturgy the “Statement on the Ministry of the Church.” This litany includes a recitation of the six Great Ends of the Church. The first Great End, the proclamation of the Gospel (sharing with others the good news of Jesus Christ) and the sixth, the exhibition of the kingdom of heaven (serving others in the name of Jesus Christ) are inseparable. When we exhibit the kingdom, we’re proclaiming the Gospel, and when we proclaim the Gospel we’re exhibiting the kingdom. At least, we hope so. If we proclaim the Gospel but don’t exhibit the kingdom, our words are hollow. If we exhibit the kingdom but do not also proclaim the Gospel, serving others is indistinguishable from secular good works. In Darrell Guder’s, Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World, we read “the kingdom of heaven is a gift of grace that flows through our hearts and souls to reach out to the world to manifest or reflect Christ’s presence in the world.”

In Rev. Barbara Cathey’s sermon, “Between Two Worlds,” which she preached during our April Presbytery Assembly, she reminded us that we are living between two kingdoms, the kingdom of God with us now, and the kingdom that is not yet. We are already forgiven, loved and free, but in the kingdom to come, we will be fully who we are called to be. What a joyous message of grace that is.

Rev. Mike Miller will preach during our June Assembly. His sermon title is “A New Era, The Same Kingdom,” using Matthew 13:24-35 as his text. His focus will be on moving the church into the new era, while understanding that our fundamental message has not changed. Rev. Miller has served and is currently serving on the Reorganization and Implementation Taskforce and has been, like others, discerning where God is leading our Presbytery.

We are in the process of transitioning to the new thing God is calling us to be and do, but we don’t yet know what that will look like. We do know that we want to proclaim the Gospel as we exhibit the kingdom. As a step forward in the process, the Reorganization and Implementation Taskforce met recently and members were divided into three small work groups:

  1. one will analyze the current work of the Presbytery,
  2. another will study the missional context of the Chicago area, and
  3. the third will examine the changing nature of ministry and how our churches are responding.

Those serving on this taskforce include: Rev. Cliff Lyda (Moderator), Ms. Sonia Bodi, Mr. Greg Boyer, Ms. Martha Brown, Mr. Don Gilliard, Ms. Laurie Kaeser, Rev. Michael Kirby, Rev. Lisa López, Rev. Ashley-Anne Masters, Rev. Michael Miller, Jr., Ms. Joyce Perry, Rev. Robert Reynolds, Rev. Clint Roberts, Ms. Gail Russell, Ms. Anne Warnke, and Mr. Mike Welf.

Another step forward was recently made by the Presbytery Coordinating Commission. They made the important decision to unanimously choose Rev. Dr. Barbara Wilson to be our Presbytery Community Organizer. She has had a variety of experiences in ministry, which prepare her well for her current calling to be part of the leadership team as we move forward as a Presbytery. Her philosophy of community organizing is “personal faith becoming communal and/or connecting being with doing. That is, creating an environment for persons and congregations to find our identity as Christians in our relationship with Christ, such that our understanding of our roles in building and sustaining community is born out of that relationship.” Sounds a lot like proclaiming the Gospel and exhibiting the kingdom.

Until the next issue, “…live lives worthy of God, who calls you into God’s kingdom and glory.” (I Thessalonians 2:12)

This article was originally published on page 3 of the June 2015 Our Common Ministry, the presbytery’s newsletter. Download the complete issue.

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