GA12 logo, "Reviving the Flame"
Six copies of the Moderator's GA12 study, written by incoming Moderator the Rev Ray Coster and on the theme: "Reviving the Flame: Living in the power of God's presence and the presence of God's power", have been sent with every enrolment pack.
Click to download the GA12 "Reviving the Flame" four-part Bible study
The study has been written for use primarily by small groups but is also suitable as a personal Bible study. Contact Sandra Homan at the Assembly Office if you would like more copies mailed to you, email email@example.com or phone 04 8016000.
Incoming Moderator the Rev Ray Coster has chosen “Reviving the Flame” as his theme.
He says his theme is about acknowledging that the Church is in need of revival, a new spark to make its flame burn brighter.
“I love the word revive. It speaks to me about God never giving up on God’s people. In some ways I feel as though our Presbyterian Church has been in a wilderness for many years. We are all now aware of our Church’s downward statistics. We have moved from a denomination of about 130,000 people at weekly worship in the early 1960s to around 30,000 today. It could be very easy to become despondent about this, give up and feel like we are failing. But the desert or wilderness is a place of meeting and restoration. That’s where revival, refreshment and restoration begin.
“In one of the servant songs in Isaiah (42:1-4) it speaks of God’s servant: ‘A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out’. God does not consider the bruised reed or the smouldering wick as useless or past their time, rather God restores or revives them. That is my prayer for our Church.”
Incorporating the flame into his theme and the GA12 logo was important. “I am proudly Presbyterian. The flame is a symbol of the church, the burning bush is a very significant symbol of our Church, and the Reformed Church.”
Ray’s hope is that his theme will remind the Church that it is firstly a church of God and not just a religious institution that runs programmes. “There is a really significant ‘God-factor’ in what we do. So the full title of my theme is, ‘Reviving the Flame: Living in the power of God’s presence and the presence of God’s power’. The mission we do is God's mission. It’s all about God. God’s incredibly great love for the world and the people who live on this planet.”
In his work as former chair of the PressGo board, Ray says he has seen a number of wonderful examples of God reviving the Church. “I hope my theme will inspire and encourage the Church to believe what it believes and see that there is always hope with God.”
“Some congregations do not want to be reminded that they have ageing congregations and declining numbers. But when a church does get that God spark of revival amazing things happen. That catalyst for revival can take many different forms, for example a new form of leadership, new people joining a congregation or a new ministry outreach.”
Helping the Church to develop a new mindset will be a focus of Ray’s during his two year term as Moderator. “I have met a number of people in our Church who live with a pre-cross mind-set. They still feel, or see themselves as, unworthy sinners. This can strangulate our mission. We should live with a resurrection mind-set. We are an Easter people who are called to live our faith with resurrection excitement and conviction.
“As a Church we spend 40 days in Lent humbling ourselves, doing Lenten studies and maybe even fasting. Why don’t we spend 40 days after Easter celebrating, rejoicing and doing special resurrection studies? Instead of singing about how unworthy we are we should sing as resurrection people. Jesus sets us free. Yes, we can acknowledge we are far from perfect but we are no longer under condemnation. It is time we as a Church said positive things about our faith. Why would anyone want to come to faith if we don’t?”
Ray says worship during GA12 will pick up on the revival theme. “I am hopeful that the whole Assembly experience will be very positive, expressing our faith as a resurrection people. I have invited Malcolm Gordon to be our worship leader and I will be working with the Assembly chaplains to ensure that our worship times also reflect the theme.”
The Rev Tim Keel, the keynote speaker at this year’s Assembly, will elaborate on the theme in his addresses.