Times of Transition
It’s not about changing churches; it’s about changing people
by Mark Roth | Presbyterians Today
Theresa Cho, co-pastor of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco leads worship with her daughter, Isabella Kim. LOUISVILLE – You might say the transformation began with the pews.
St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco wanted to grow. So it hired the Rev. Theresa Cho as an associate pastor with the idea that her presence would help attract young Chinese families who were settling in the neighborhood. After three years, however, growth hadn’t happened in the way some people expected.
“My thought at the time was, I have no idea what is going to draw people to this congregation—but I do know that there are some things we need to think of changing for those visitors who are already coming through the door,” Cho says.
As a new mother, Cho had noticed that the families starting to visit St. John’s had no easy place to park their strollers. Solution? Remove some of the church’s 100-year-old redwood pews to create a stroller parking lot.
The toddlers who came in those strollers soon wanted access to the snacks and sippy cups inside the strollers, and that led St. John’s to change its policy of no food or drink in the sanctuary.
Eventually, the church got rid of all the old pews and bought stackable ones instead. Today, that allows St. John’s to quickly convert the sanctuary into a Saturday grocery store, and to create a spot on the floor for children during worship.
More importantly, Cho says, all of these physical alterations led to an attitude change, especially among older members who had started out believing that children should be seen and not heard in worship.
“As much as we focus on changing worship or church,” says Cho, who is now co-pastor of the congregation, “we’re really talking about changing people. It’s creating a spiritual discipline in people on their attitude toward change.”
Most Presbyterian churches grapple with these kinds of issues when they change pastors, but church leaders say that in fact, congregations are in a constant state of transition.
Statistics compiled by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) bear that out."
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Vote Results on Concurrence on Overtures
At the Called meeting on Friday, the Presbytery voted to send its concurrence to General Assembly on the following overtures:
039, adding "Partners in Ministry" - 52-23-3
042, requiring a Dependent Care policy - 54-21-3
043, clarifying titles to Ordered Ministry, amended to add a rationale from our presbytery - 59-16-4,
062, asking RE/MAX to cease selling property in the West Bank - 48-29-2
070, celebrating a significant Social Witness anniversary - 65-13-2
065, asking forgiveness from Native Americans - 69-6-3
These overtures and others will now be considered by the General Assembly at its meeting in Portland this June. If passed (and as edited) by the Assembly, we will receive them once again for our vote.
The Presbytery also declined to concur with three other overtures:
006, adding "Presbytery Advisory Delegates" - 32-44-0
007, requiring a 2/3 vote to amend the constitution - 19-57-1
025, creating a GA Reform Coordinating Committee - 13-64-2
These three overtures have gained concurrences from other presbyteries and will be going to General Assembly. If passed, it is possible that we will also receive them once again for our vote.