I was in a meeting today discussing the rationale for why a presbytery should be involved in camping ministry. As a starter, a member of our team took three responsibilities of presbyteries as outlined in the Book of Order (G-11.0103) and suggested how a presbytery camping ministry corresponds to these responsibilities.
As we talked about why presbyteries should be in the business of camping ministry, we kept coming back to the fostering of connectionalism as a major rationale. Camping ministry is one of many ways that we recognize and nourish our sense of connection to the wider church. The church is much bigger than our local congregations and there are things we can do much better together than as individual congregations.
This resonated deeply with what I am hearing throughout the church. In my work with the Middle Governing Body Commission, and in a variety of conversations I have been having with Presbyterians, connectionalism seems to be one of the highest valued—if not the highest valued—aspect of our Presbyterian way of being church.
So we wondered, what could we quote from the Book of Order to support this point of our rationale? I was somewhat surprised to discover that G-11.0103 doesn’t explicitly mention connectionalism as a responsibility of presbyteries. It talks about things that we do together as presbyteries, but it doesn’t say why this is important or valued. In fact, the words connectional and connectionalism—both of which I consider current buzz words in the PC(USA)—never appear in the Book of Order at all.
So, Presbygeeks, help me out here. Where in our current Book of Order would you go to reference our widely held value of connectionalism?
I should note that the proposed new Form of Government—which I strongly support—also does not contain the words connectional or connectionalism. However, it was much easier to find some elegant language that speaks to this issue. Consider, for example, G-3.0101:
The mutual interconnection of the church through its councils is a sign of the unity of the church. Congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), while possessing all the gifts necessary to be the church, are nonetheless not sufficient in themselves to be the church. Rather, they are called to share with others, both within and beyond the congregation, the task of bearing witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the world.
Where in the current Book of Order can you find something like this?