Guest post by Ambassador Ryan Moran
I have a deep yearning and love for the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I had no idea how the Spirit was moving a year ago when I received a call to join the Special Offerings Leader Support Network as an Ambassador. The Special Offerings Leader Support Network is a new, volunteer-based program to cultivate Ambassadors of Special Offerings in various regions of the country. Ambassadors connect with local congregations to share the impact of the offerings and engage pastoral staff, Presbyteries and mission committees in new ways.
When I was asked to become an Ambassador, my first response wasn’t “yes.” It was, “what’s Special Offerings?” As a new Presbyterian learning the “ins” and “outs” of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I was unsure whether I could be of use with my lack of knowledge of Special Offerings and their historical relevance to the church.
Yet, as the Spirit tugged, I followed.
I grew up the son of a holiness Pentecostal preacher. Being a preacher’s kid brings the typical stereotypes, the most important learning I gained was watching congregations move through change –in both small doses and large magnitude.
I have watched congregants leave the church because the hymnal was replaced with a screen to display lyrics. Not to mention differences in theology often resulting in division.
I often wonder three questions:
- Amid transformation and evolution, how do we find consistency within the Church today?
- Is there any element of the church that is constant?
- Are we simply left to believe that change is the new constant?
As my own faith journey has evolved from being raised Pentecostal to becoming a Presbyterian (an interesting journey within itself), I found one element of the PC(USA) that brings consistency, and more importantly, unity – congregational participation in Special Offerings.
Special Offerings is a collection of four denominational-wide offerings that support a myriad of various programs to help people in need across the world whether they face the havoc of natural disaster, the glass ceiling of gender and racial inequity to obtain an education or the threat of injustice due to a tyrant government.
Over the course of the past year, I have connected with more than 25 congregations in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD area to share the good work of Special Offerings. I am charged with the greater task of demonstrating how the offerings are a founded constant in the denomination and define what it means to be a connectional church body.
Having no history of what Special Offerings looked like one, five or even ten years ago, I bring my excitement for the current work of all the programs that its funds support. Perhaps the Spirit knew exactly what it was doing when it called me to this work.
It is the stories of Special Offerings and how the funds allow us, as the Church, to show up in places where it is needed.
- Together we helped to dig out the people of Boston, Massachusetts during the worst winter snows in history earlier this year. Or,
- Together we provide relief to the people of Nepal as they search for a sense of normalcy after one of the worst earthquakes in history.
- Together we made dreams a reality for those reaching for an education, but lacked the resources to attain it.
- Together we fed thousands, millions of people lacking adequate food and access to clean water.
- Together we strengthen early childhood education. How together we empower, transform, and live out the greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
A Swahili proverb states that ‘if we want to go quickly, we can always go alone. If we want to go further, we must go together.’
As a Church and as a people, Special Offerings is our way to go further than we can possibly imagine…together.
Lord, only with your mercy.
For more information about the Leader Support Network, visit pcusa.org/SOLSN.