Exclusive Interview with Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

I must admit, I get star struck by presby-celebs. I have a hard time keeping it cool when I’m around academic superstars like Dr. Brian Blount and Dr. Katie Cannon, powerhouse pastors like John Morgan, cutting-edge colleagues like Brittany Porch and Howard Dudley (don’t worry if you weren’t selected for this, I am doing pairs…there are plenty more people who impress and inspire me. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them!). I get star stuck, awkward, and inspired by these folks.

One person who has always made me extra star struck is Jan Edmiston (you may know her from her blog, achurchforstarvingartists). Jan is just an incredibly articulate sister in faith that I have the honor of knowing through my wife, Sarah’s family (Jan is Sarah’s mom’s first cousin). Before the 222nd GA, I sent Jan questions for an interview and in the midst of the chaos of co-moderator election (which she won), she was kind enough to answer them. She’s awesome.

Co-Moderators

Co-Moderators, Rev. Denise Anderson and   Rev. Dr. Jan Edmiston

Question: What do you most love about our denomination?

What I most love:  I love that we have an extraordinary tradition – founding hospitals and schools, stepping up to take unpopular but faithful actions – and we have an extraordinary future before us.  Increasingly our congregations are multicultural and welcoming of a variety of people who did not grow up in the Presbyterian Church.  We are doing this not to survive but to thrive as the people of God who look increasingly like the whole kingdom of God.  I love this.

I love our polity and our desire to dig deep into Scripture and theology.  I love that we debate the issues and that we prayerfully consider our stances, relying on the Holy Spirit even when those stances will be controversial.

Question: What do young people/college students have to look forward to in our denominational life together?

It’s time for young adults and college students to take their places as leaders. I’m a big fan of co-mentoring between generations which requires leadership both from young and old (I like to call us “seasoned”) leaders.  As a parish pastor, I looked to my early 20-something colleague Matt to mentor me as I also mentored him.  He would say, “There’s this new thing called Instagram & here’s how you’d use it for church” for example on one of our Tech Days with Matt times.  And then I would mentor Matt with something like, “Here’s how you work with the Circle Ladies in a way that’s respectful.  They appreciate thank you notes and here’s why . . .” on Seasoned Ministry with Jan days.

Over the past three years,I was blessed to facilitate the 23rd group of new pastors in our Synod of Lincoln Trails and most of those pastors are under 35.  Many were in their late twenties when they were ordained.  Five of them are commissioners to this General Assembly in Portland.

Our Young Adult Advisory Delegates are essential partners in our discernment at GA, as are our young teaching and ruling elders.  We crave your insights and we need your BS detectors.  Thriving congregations are authentic congregations, and the church is depending on the leadership of real people of every age who can be vulnerable and courageous and inspiring.

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