Presbyterian reverend discusses change in the denomination

Monday, April 27, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Sunday's 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services at First Presbyterian Church were delivered by the U.S. Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow. 

Reyes-Chow is currently the pastor of Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, and he has been preaching at various Presbyterian churches across the country on the future of the denomination.

After the 11 a.m. service, Reyes-Chow held a luncheon and a question-and-answer forum with a few of the church's congregants, where he answered questions about the following:

What changes should be made in the Presbyterian Church?

During the forum, Reyes-Chow explained that in most modern churches authority is given to one place.

"The pulpit is central; I believe it's different," Reyes-Chow said.

Contrary to how he was trained,Reyes-Chow emphasizes how he does not have a physical pulpit at his services, dresses in jeans and t-shirt and joins the Mission Bay congregation in a circle for ministry.

"We have to shift our role at the church. Twenty-year-olds want less words and much more inspiration," he said.

How can the church make a transformation?

"It's not a theology question, it's a cultural problem," Reyes-Chow said. "The church as a whole has to agree on change. Be really careful on what we want as a church."

How can the church attract a younger audience?

About 90percent of Mission Bay's congregation comes from the Internet. Guests and visitors follow the church and Reyes-Chow through Facebook, Twitter, his personal blog, the church's blog and its Web site.

"They know us more than we know them," said Reyes-Chow.

He also explained the personal environment he shares with his congregation.

"We are not afraid to change things," Reyes-Chow said. "You have to create an atmosphere that them and families will be accepted. Set a welcoming atmosphere for children."

What do you hope for the future of the Presbyterian denomination?

"I hope that the denomination will be a church for my children, that they will see the amazing community of Christ and be so grateful of God that they have no choice but to be different from the rest of the world," Reyes-Chow said. "My hope is that we can be ready for the upcoming."

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