Presbyterians Today

JUN-JUL 2018

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40 JUNE/JULY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay M any questioned whether it could be done. As the Church was weighing in on issues of racism, immigration, fossil fuels and the stormy political climate in Washington, two women took a step in faith and made history in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston decided two were better than one and became the first co-moderators for the General Assembly at the 222nd General Assembly (2016). Ironically, the election of Anderson and Edmiston as moderators fell on the 85th anniversary of the first ordination of a woman elder and the 60th anniversary of the ordination of female pastors in the Presbyterian Church. "I felt like a part of an experi- ment because no one knew what this was going to look like. It's been an opportunity to try some things, make mistakes and shift things around, even as we're getting a sense of what's expected of us and what we might be able to do. The past two years have been incredibly eventful, busy, tiring, but also very cool," said Anderson. "We've gotten to see so much of this denomination that we would not have been able to see if we weren't in this role. I tell people I have a much deeper appreciation for who we are and what God has equipped us to do." Anderson, a pastor from National Capital Presbytery, and Edmiston, a presbytery executive in Chicago, decided to run as a team, knowing that together they could do more for the church than carrying such great responsibility alone. "We knew each other before we decided to stand for co-moderator and that made a huge difference, so that when we have those low points, we could talk about them honestly with each other," said Edmiston. Both Edmiston and Anderson say that from the beginning of this journey, they wanted to address the difficult things that people and churches don't always want to talk about. During their first year as co- moderators, they recommended that the Church read and study Waking Up White, a book by Debby Irving that unpacks long-held beliefs and ill-conceived ideas about race. This past year, their suggested read was Always With Us, a book written by a Presbyterian colleague, the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. "I enjoyed visiting the churches and mid councils, hearing about their experiences and how they found the readings and discussions rewarding and challenging, deepening their racism and anti-poverty work," said Anderson. "I think that Jan and I found that very encouraging, to know that something is taking root and something is resonating and that Presbyterians are deeply engaged in what we hope will be meaningful work for the nation and the world." Edmiston says she's had many great experiences as she's traveled across the country, including a visit to Immokalee, Florida, home of the Fair Food Program. She participated Tough TALKS and … a new joy for MEETINGS? Co-moderators reflect on their two years of service BY RICK JONES

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