Thursday, December 10, 2009

Responses from PC(USA) Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow

Last week, I mentioned that I was taking up PC(USA) Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow on his offer to answer questions.  Here are his responses (the only editing that has been done has been for typos and such, at Bruce's own suggestion):

1. While you've made your own political convictions known, you have also made it clear that you truly do wish to be in conversation with Presbyterians (dare I say, "Christians of any denomination"?) of differing convictions. What have you done to build trust and relationship with believers who have such clearly opposing viewpoints? Do you think it's possible for believers with diametrically opposed interpretations on (what at least one side would consider) core issues to coexist? How can we worship God together?
Hey now, you somehow managed slip in three parts to that question. I'll try to take a stab. I feel like I have built trust by being consistent to how I have promised to approach conversations with people from all theological perspectives. I will, to the best of my ability, assume that the other is seeking to know God as much as I am and that he/she is discerning the word/s of God to the best of their ability. When I assume that God only speaks to me and in no way could be speaking to the other I have given up a connectionalism that I am not quite ready to do. I think the "diametrically opposed" question depends on the ramification of those opinions and to what extent any of can live in a culture of disagreement. If living within a situation where one feels like his/her values are compromised then I think one MUST think about the faithfulness of staying in the situation.
2. Having followed you on your various blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and the God Complex Radio podcast, I feel safe in saying that your reputation for exploring the potential of current technologies for worship and theological reflection is well-deserved. Is there any single technological breakthrough that excites you more than others? Why that one? What would you say to others who just don't understand the big deal about such technologies (full disclosure: although I do have a Twitter account, that is certainly one technology that I've never really "gotten," in terms of understanding either the appeal or how it might be profitably used)?
*grin* I actually think that Twitter is the most intriguing for me right now. I do say "right now" because part of being adaptable to new technologies is acknowledging that none is the end-all and be-all. Some of the ways twitter has been used for pastoral care, project completion, community building, social justice, etc are fascinating. I have been heading up a twitter service each Sunday called #tworhip [] that is trying to explore some of this. For those for whom all this just makes no sense, that is okay. Tech will not be for everyone just as hymns in church, pesto on my pasta or watching college football really do nothing for me. The key is to be able to appreciate that it does create some kind of movement for other people.
3. Although I don't think we've ever actually crossed paths in person, it is my understanding that we both have backgrounds with the Montreat Youth Conferences in multiple capacities. How would you describe the Youth Conferences to someone who has never been? Would you recommend this gathering for all youth, or under what circumstances might you argue that it isn't for them? What alternatives might you recommend for a church that is too far removed from the mountains of North Carolina to make attendance viable (I currently attend a church in Pasadena, CA, and I'm sure you know churches in San Francisco that have found attending difficult, if not impossible)?
Montreat is one of the many wonderful youth conference experiences that are offered in the PC(USA). While I have certainly enjoyed my Montreat experience, I am not sure it is worth the ongoing cost for long-distance travel. For a one-time big conference experience, it is a moving experience. I would see Montreat, Triennium and some of our other larger youth events as great compliments to local camps and conference experiences, mission trips, etc.
4. What would you consider the strengths of the PC(USA)'s current process for preparing would-be pastors for ordination? What would you consider the weaknesses of this process? If you were able, what changes might you suggest?
I still believe that some of the rigor of the process is valuable. To understand that we alone do not determine the nature of our calling but that a community of people can often help us see strengths and weaknesses that might not otherwise be noticed is important. We may not always agree with those who have these roles in our life, but that does not make the process as a whole invalid. Learning to "submit" in a way that allows us to see God in new ways through the discernment with/by others can be powerful. At the same time, this leaves open the possibility for cycles of like-thinking, like-culture and exclusiveness in what we expect from those in the call process. This tension represents both the best and worst of who we can be as Presbyterians.
5. Having tried my hand at podcasting for a brief spell (archives can still be found via the Internet Archive), I've been following God Complex Radio with interest, and I have a concept for the effort that goes into putting out a program on a weekly basis (of course, "The Reflectionary" was on a much smaller scale than God Complex Radio!). What gave you the idea to take on such a project? Given your multiple responsibilities, what made you think you could maintain the energy needed to keep it going? What steps did you take to ensure (or "increase the possibility of"?) the success of the effort? If you could change one aspect of that "start up" effort, what would it be? Would you be interested in the possibility of adding a new co-host who talks entirely too much about Transformers toys? (OK, that last one's not entirely serious, but I just had to ask!)
God Complex radio started with a tweet from me to Carol asking her if she was up for something crazy. The rest, as they say, is history. The technology is pretty easy, complete with glitches galore, and once Landon Whitsett agreed to produce it, all I had to do was read, show up and help get the word out. For the amount of play that we are getting, it was a very low amount of prep. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because I felt and feel that there is a lack of Gen X voices out there talking thoughtfully about theology, culture and faith. Add our stunning wit to the mix and there you have it, GRC. And hey, if there is ever a Transformer epi, you're on ;-)


  1. Thanks for the questions and for taking the time to pose them! Take care! - Bruce

  2. Likewise, thanks for the opportunity! I look forward to the return of GCR next month!



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