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“You shall love the Lord your God.” Matt. 22:37

Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women
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Neal Presa

Neal Presa, moderator of the 220th General Assembly, called Presbyterian Women the jewels in the crown of the PC(USA) during the evening plenary session on July 19, 2012.

Three wise men give thanks to Presbyterian Women

By Jessica Reid

“Hello, Presbyterian Women! I want to say ‘thank you’ for all my Bible teachers over the last 33 years!”

Those words from Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons were met with a round of laughter during the evening plenary on Thursday, July 19. Gradye spoke fondly of and to PW, recounting a story of a Presbyterian woman correcting him on the virtues of both Martha and Mary, and praising the passion of all in PW. “On behalf of all the ministers you tried to teach things to, thank you,” he said.

Gradye was joined on stage by Roger Dermody, who serves as deputy executive director of mission for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (formerly known as the General Assembly Mission Council, or GAMC).

“I want to express gratitude as we celebrate 175 years of World Mission this year,” Roger said before the packed room. “It was Presbyterian Women who helped to ignite that movement. Now, this Sunday, almost 100 million people will worship in a Presbyterian church.”

He also thanked PW for raising $70,000 to support racial ethnic leadership and asked for a new focus to continue the good work.

“We need your help now more than ever. We are trying to ignite a new movement to create 1,001 new worshipping communities,” Roger said. “We want to learn from you as we raise up new models and [examine] what it means to ‘be in church.’”

Roger then introduced newly elected moderator of the 220th General Assembly, Neal Presa, who called Presbyterian Women the crown jewels of the PC(USA).

“I’ve been the husband, brother, son and grandson of passionate, strong women who love the Lord, so I feel right at home here,” Neal said.

He told the crowd that there are three kinds of people in the world—those who make change happen, those who watch change happen, and those who wonder what happened. Although he displayed his sense of humor throughout his short speech, Neal turned serious for a moment.

“Presbyterian Women are the first kind of people―who make change happen,” he said. “But we are now a church divided. The good news is we are also united―because Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

“Let us create opportunities for churchwide conversations so we can ask ‘how can we be the PC(USA) family again?’ Let’s continue to serve with hope as we seek that unity.”

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