Baptizing the PPRC

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The PPRC -- Pastor-Parish Relations Committee -- plays an important role in the United Methodist Church, including annually advising the Bishop whether or not the appointed pastor should remain at their church or itinerate to a new congregation.

The PPRC -- Pastor-Parish Relations Committee -- plays an important role in the United Methodist Church, including annually advising the Bishop whether or not the appointed pastor should remain at their church or itinerate to a new congregation. While the PPRC is instructed to "engage in biblical and theological reflection on the mission of the church" (Book of Discipline: 180), it is not asked to undertake its work in remembrance of baptism.

Such remembering could make a significant difference in the ways a PPRC functions.

Consider this: Many United Methodist congregations schedule a Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant early in the new year. This is good discipline, since a Wesleyan theology of baptism affirms that the sacrament "signifies the whole working of God's grace," but that the human response to that grace "will need to happen during the course of a lifetime" (UM Book of Worship: 81-82). In other words, daily remembrance of baptism is Christian duty, and that remembrance ought to be foundational to all the workings of our congregations. Even our committee meetings.

Remembrance in the sacramental sense -- "do this in remembrance of me" -- has a particular meaning: to make the power of a past event present in the now. When the Bread and Cup are received "in remembrance," the entirety of Christ's saving work in the passion and resurrection are present at the Table. At the font, the unshakable Word of God is pronounced, naming the one baptized as God's Own. The blessed one may turn her back on God's Word, but the Word to her and about her remains potent.

What if the PPRC began its meetings with a reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant, casting all its deliberations in terms of responsiveness to the sacrament? What if it were convicted that all it does ought to be done as if its members were encircling the font? Would it then have a different perspective on its work, seeing it as ministry vital to the nurture of the congregation?

What if the PPRC saw itself as always on journey from the font to the Kingdom, instead of merely performing one more administrative function in the life of the church? Would those on that journey see their work -- their ministry -- differently?

And for the pastor who seeks deeper, more meaningful support from this body: what effects could this commitment to a shared journey create in your congregation?

Pax Tecum,
Ed

Ed Moore
Executive Director
Leadership Education at Duke Divinity

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