Bill Teng, another of the moderator candidates for the general assembly of the PC (USA), has responded to our questions. Here are his answers. (here are the answers from the other candidates…so far…Bruce Reyes-Chow, Roger Shoemaker)
What does the moderator do? Why should I, as a youth, care about the moderator?
It wasn’t too long ago that I was asking myself this questionJ. The moderator’s “duties” fall into at least three categories, and I think youth would be naturally inclined to care about each one.
First, the moderator is the one who “chairs” all the plenary sessions of the G.A. (when all the commissioners and delegates meet together for business). Obviously it’s important that the moderator “know all the rules” and be able to interact graciously with very diverse assembly of Presbyterians, in order to make sure that all discussions are being conducted fairly and in an open and respectful manner (“decently and in order”). When I was a youth, I was disappointed whenever the church didn’t conduct its own meetings with the sort of care and grace that we call the whole world to live with. If you are hoping your experience at GA will leave you feeling better about the church than before you came to San Jose, then you’ll want a moderator who can facilitate the assembly meetings well.
Next, after the week of the Assembly, the moderator then becomes an ambassador “of the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace” as he or she travels across the country, and even around the world, telling the story of what God is doing in and through us. I think youth should care about this aspect of the moderator’s responsibilities because this aspect of the moderator’s responsibilities is something like the “public persona” of the denomination for a couple of years.
Finally – and in my opinion very importantly – upholds the people of God through prayer. I think today’s youth are often very spiritually engaged and find that the church is worth their time only as much as the church and its members really experience God’s love and justice. So, it’s important to have a moderator who will both engage the Lord in prayer her- or himself and help “set the tone” for the whole church to do so.
It also seems to me that youth should care about the moderator because the right moderator could bring to the whole church a vision for our common future, a future that you will share for longer than any of the rest of us.
What is the most meaningful experience you had as a youth?
I think the most meaningful experience I had as a youth is when I was given a violin by a good friend who moved away with his family. I began music lessons which led me to fall in love with music and gave me a desire to study music. God later used my musical training to combine with my theological education to become a church musician — a position that I held for many years before I became a pastor.
What can I, as a youth, do to help the church? The world? Other youth?
First of all, you must remember that YOU are the church and not the future of the church as some may have suggested! As the church, your responsibilities should be the same as any other member: to regularly participate in the life of the church, such as in the areas of worship, fellowship, mission (local, national and international), study and leadership.
One is never too young to begin helping the church fulfill its responsibility to care for the world. Many youth will naturally start by being conscientious of the role you can play in a global context: for instance, by learning about and reaching out to people of other cultures or ethnicities in the name of Christ, as well as engaging in the areas of energy conservation, ecology, material recycling, etc.
There is also much that you can do to help other youth that adults may not be able to because of the fact that you are peers! You may start by showing genuine care for one another, stop forming social cliques or “inside” groups in school, reaching out to those who are being shunned by others, and sharing with everyone what your faith means to you. When you begin to do that, I bet you’d be pleasantly surprised how God would use you to be a blessing to others.
What is our role, as youth, in the church? The denomination?
The first thing I think of is that you, as youth in the church, can help the whole church feel the energy we all need to have in serving God.
You have no idea what a smile or sense of encouragement it brings when young people lead worship or participate in the life of the congregation. Your participation also reminds all of us of the need to live and speak about the Gospel in a way that is relevant to our times and the need to be open to new ideas that youth bring to the table — and that’s why we need more youth in the denominational structure, so that we can all learn from one another and remain relevant to the constantly changing world.
What are your top five favorite movies? Why? (In no particular order)
“Shadowlands” — The true love story between C.S. Lewis and Joyce Gresham, whom he married but soon lost due to cancer — How C.S. Lewis struggled with personal pain and grief: truly moving and inspiring!
“The Sound of Music” — An oldie but goody, it probably needs no introduction. This was the first movie that my parents ever allowed me to see and I just felt in love with it!
“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” — It’s got to be the funniest movie that I have ever seen — I remember I laughed so hard that I cried and was rolling on the floor. (Literally. You asked!)
“The Longest Day” — It’s about “D-Day,” the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, during World War II. It’s in black and white and three hours long but it’s the funniest and most sobering war movie that I’ve ever seen — The only movie I loved so much that I went back and saw it again the next day.
Just to show that I still watch movies: “Kung Fu Panda” — Need I say more?!
Thank you, Bill, for your openness to engage us in conversation.