In 1975 the 187th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) requested that a statement be written that defined the denomination’s understanding of and commitment to peacemaking. Fully five years later the document was presented to and adopted by the 192nd General Assembly. The title was:Peacemaking, A Believers’ Calling.
I have a close friend who was on the team that spent those long years writing the report. At one point in talking with him about its production he shared that, without question, the largest controversy was over an apostrophe.
The debate raged around whether the title should read A Believer’s Calling or A Believers’ Calling. The proponents of the former were of the mind that the call to peacemaking is first and foremost lodged in the individual believer’s heart. The advocates for the latter insisted that the call to peacemaking is directed to a community of believers committed to working and serving for peace. In the end, the communal calling camp stole the day.
First and foremost Presbyterians are a people committed to community. In our learning, growing, serving, and seeking we believe that we see, hear, and know God’s presence most clearly when in community with one another. This is what lies behind our obsession with committees, our often painful addiction to process, and our deep commitment to sacraments shared publicly by the whole body of Christ. Most profoundly, this is the core of the whole notion of church.
Next Sunday is World Communion Sunday and the day we receive the Peacemaking Offering, which supports the peacemaking ministries of our denomination. That these two things happen on the same day is no coincidence: it reflects our deep belief that in whatever we do, we are most faithful and effective when we model our lives on the Lord’s Table – where the worldwide communion of believers together receive and then offer God’s grace.
May God bless our calling, our community, and all of our communions; that they would lead to…