Heath Rada, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denomination, has spent much of his two-year tenure visiting Presbyterian churches across the country – communicating with the members. He has about six months left before a new moderator is elected.
On Feb 14, Rada will visit Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
“One reason I’m excited about having him here is for him to tell us what he’s heard and what his thoughts are,” said Steve Lindsley, senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian, who requested that Rada visit. “We’re excited to hear what he’s been hearing.”
Rada will speak twice on Feb. 14. He will talk about what is happening in the larger church during the Sunday School hour at Trinity, and will preach at the 11 a.m. worship service.
Rada, whose official title is moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, is from Richmond, Va. He is a retired CEO of the Greater Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross and former president of Presbyterian School of Christian Education (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond.
He also is a published author and is an active member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville.
“This is an exciting time here at Trinity in general, and having Dr. Rada come and be with us is something we’re really looking forward to,” Lindsley said.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. It has seen difficult times in recent years as leaders have adopted doctrine that allows partnered gay and lesbian ministers, and teaches elders to conduct same-sex marriages.
In the wake of these doctrinal changes, some PCUSA churches have left the denomination, including 17 in the presbytery of Charlotte. Now, 106 churches in seven counties remain, said Betty Meadows, transitional general presbyter at the Presbytery of Charlotte.
Churches in Charlotte that have left the PCUSA include Westminster Presbyterian, Albemarle Road Presbyterian and Garden Memorial Presbyterian, which now are members of other Presbyterian denominations.
“Even in the midst of some congregations leaving the presbytery of Charlotte, the presbytery is still diverse theologically,” Meadows said. “We have found our unity in serving our neighbors in the name of Christ. In fact, the energy and passion for serving Christ is rising.”
While some remaining churches have closed or merged, Meadows said, the presbytery of Charlotte has not seen a significant decrease in membership. Presbytery of Charlotte churches have about 34,000 members.
Lindsley said churches are now focusing more on how to help people connect with God in a meaningful way and how to reach young people.
“We are at a place now where we can really have some good, fruitful, heart-to-heart conversations about those things, which is pretty critical,” he said.
Meadows said there is a “new mission, a new energy, a new serving of people” in PCUSA churches.
“Even though we have churches leaving, and we grieve that, we probably have more energy in the presbytery than we’ve had in a very long time,” she said. “I find this to be an extremely hopeful time.”
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: email@example.com.