Elder Cynthia Bolbach from National Capital Presbytery in Washington, D.C., was elected as Moderator of the 219th General Assembly on a fourth ballot that included six candidates, late Saturday night, July 3, 2010. In the final ballot, Bolbach received 325 of the 712 Commissioner votes.
Her running mate for Vice-Moderator, the Rev. Landon Whitsitt (MDiv ’05), a Louisville Seminary alum and pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Liberty, Mo., will be installed later in the week. He will serve alongside Bolbach for a period of two years.
In running for Moderator, Bolbach, executive vice president and corporate secretary for BNA, Inc. (a publisher of legal records), stated she felt called to stand for Moderator in order to help the church “discern how best to proclaim the timeless Gospel message to a 21st century world that is multi-cultural and religiously pluralistic.” The only Elder among five other candidates with seminary degrees, she also said she “cherished the equality that the church gives to ministers and elders.” For four years she has chaired the Form of Government Task Force, which is recommending that the church return to using the term “ruling elder.”
Whitsitt, said he felt called to stand with Bolbach when he realized that his hopes for the church matched her hopes.
“I want to see a church that is flexible and contextual, meeting the needs of Christians wherever they are. This is what I was taught at LPTS, and this is what I hear Cindy saying. If I can help her spread that message, then I want to do it,” said Whitsitt.
Over the next two years, flexibility will certainly be modeled as Whitsitt’s congregation shares their pastor with the larger denomination.
“I want to continue the work of presenting a face of "Presbyterian" that is different than may be the norm. I love our church and I want younger folks to embrace it as theirs as well.”
Whitsitt wasn’t the only Louisville Seminary alum participating in the Moderatorial race for the 219th General Assembly. Also standing for Moderator was the Rev. Eric G. Nielsen (MDiv ’91), pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire, Wisc., and his running-mate, the Rev. Marilyn S. Gamm (MDiv ’94), pastor of Dale Heights Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisc., and former Director of Admissions at Louisville Seminary. In his speech to the Commissioners, Nielsen emphasized his pastoral leadership experiences, saying he could help the church “reclaim a positive voice for a positive future,” by encouraging opposing sides within the church to come together on common hopes and goals for the future of the church.
Individuals, who serve in the Office of Moderator, are called to be ambassadors of the General Assembly to all parts of the denomination. The Moderator’s itinerary includes visits to all ten seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S. A.). The Moderator generally visits the Louisville Seminary campus during the annual Festival of Theology and Alum Reunion at the “Moderator’s Dinner.”