My mom read to me an article claiming that these decisions will shut down the Presbyterian Church (USA) for good. The article said, "It represents the faded vestige of a once distinguished religious body that indelibly shaped America. Rest in peace, PCUSA, and thanks for the memories." Honestly, I cannot see that. If anything, we're still shaping America.
While the decisions to divest from companies in the Middle East and to change the definition of marriage were both huge and controversial decisions, the PC(USA) is far from losing its vitality. Shortly after both of these decisions, Moderator Heath Rada lead us in prayer to ask God that folks will not feel abandoned.
Following the decisions on same-sex marriage, we passed an overture for the Presbyterian Mission Agency to "engage in the process of working together with churches in the task of reconciliation, starting with visiting each presbytery and serving as a resource for each presbytery’s discussion of these actions in congregations and the presbytery at-large and present voices of reconciliation for the unity of the church" (see 10-NB).
Moreover, the closeness of the decision to divest from the Middle East companies (a seven vote difference!) shows how divided the church feels on that decision. Moreover, Heath Rada said immediately after the vote, "In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers” (See this NY Times article for a great interpretation of the proceedings).
After seeing all the various organizations at General Assembly, the energy of all the commissioners, advisory delegates, and observers, and the diversity, I have nothing but hope for the future of the PC(USA). The church has come up with new and creative ways to reach people, such as the 1001 worshipping communities and the Next Church movement. The Presbyterian Mission Agency has never been more active.
Most of all, instead of young people leaving the church in droves, young people are becoming more and more involved. The number of young commissioners increased since the last General Assembly. The YAADs took an active part in the debates on the plenary floor. The Young Adult Volunteer program celebrated its 20th anniversary. While I believe we can do more to empower young people, we are off to a great start.
Heralding back to our Scottish roots, we Presbyterians are fighters. Sure, our numbers aren't what they used to be, but we will not go down without a fight.