By Gregg Brekke, The Presbyterian News Service.
The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, announced Tuesday that he would not stand for election to a third four-year term as the highest elected officer of the church.
Parsons, ordained 36 years ago as a Presbyterian teaching elder, says his first job in the church was as a janitor. “It’s been a privilege for me to serve,” he said of his tenure. “All of my jobs in the church have been a pleasure to me.”
In his announcement, Parsons said the church “has entered into a new chapter of its common life,” and he reflected on aspects of this new era inan interview with Presbyterian News Service.
“One of the biggest changes is the number of women who are teaching elders,” he says of the differences between the church into which he was ordained and today’s. “We only had one woman, in those days, at one church who was an installed teaching elder.”
He also points to other changes such as attitudes about worship and formality in church. “When I was first ordained, Sunday morning was at least shirt and tie—minimum. Not so much anymore,” he says. “We’re on the third hymnal since I was ordained.”
“When I go out to talk to congregations, and I try to do that as much as I can, [what I saw then and what I see now is] people trying to live out their faith and meet today’s world,” he says of the similarities over time. “People are trying to learn more about the Bible.”