Part of the ordination process in the PCUSA requires every candidate for ministry to write a statement of faith. As well, most congregations, in their discernment process about whether to call a specfiic pastor, also request a statement of faith from prospective pastors.
I have written several of these in my life in ministry – my original one from when I was in the ordination process, a slightly modified one when I graduated from seminary and was first seeking a call, and then my most recent one that I put together in the call process that led me to PCW.
This is not an easy process as it is often referred to as a “personal statement of faith” and I have heard of presbyteries not accepting statements from people who simply submitted the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. (Side note: There is an urban legend of a Princeton Seminary professor who was seeking membership in the local presbytery and he did simply submit the Nicene as his SoF. Someone called him on it saying that it wasn’t personal. His response, “It doesn’t get any more personal that this for me.” End of examination. End of side note). Back to the process. This is a challenging process to try to bring together both theological statements about a God who is far above anything we can truly grasp and personal experiences of this God who has come to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
In my most recent process, I struggled greatly with the “traditional” statement and instead sought to try to express my faith using a language that I have come to use more frequently in my life and ministry. I combined simple phrases about God and my experience of God along with images that I felt captured and enhanced those words. I have returned to my most recent SoF many times since as part of my own devotional life.
Well, last night, I came across an interesting exercise taking place across the web. A blogger whose site I visit regularly was wrestling with his own SoF in preparation for his own final examination for ordination and he started a twitter thread of asking people to submit their own 140-characters-or-less statements of faith. (For those who might not be familiar, Twitter is a “micro-blogging” tool online that people use to communicate brief statements about what they are doing, questions they have for others, random thoughts, and so forth. “Tweets” as they are called are limited to 140 characters or less.). Anyway, this blogger noted that often statements of faith can become overly wordy documents and thought it would be interesting to see how people would respond to just bringing things down to a core essence. It has been fascinating and really encouraging to read the many different responses that people have given to this point. It shows the beauty and the breadth of this community of believers that we call the church.
My “tweet” was:
God has shown us what is good and what does the Lord require of us but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Before you look at others’ responses, what would you come up with if you were to try to express the core essentials of your faith in 140 characters or less? Basically, that’s one sentence. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and understandings of God as well. Post them here and we can continue this dialogue.
PS-This will be my last post for a few weeks as I will be leaving in the morning for two weeks of vacation with my family, including one week where I likely won’t have any internet access!
PPS-This post about things being 140 characters or less ended up being over 3600 characters. Yikes!