Former PCUSA Moderator Dies After Cancer Battle, Had Urged Risk-Taking for Gospel

(Photo Credit: Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area)Cynthia 'Cindy' Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is seen in a file photo.

Cynthia 'Cindy' Bolbach, a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who recently said she valued disciples of Jesus willing to take risks for the sake of the gospel even if they disagreed with her, died on Tuesday after a nearly yearlong battle with cancer.

Bolbach, 64, was diagnosed with cancer in February 2012 following abdominal surgery, the Presbyterian News Service said.

Bolbach, a ruling elder in the church, was elected Moderator for the 219th General Assembly (2010). Bolbach has been an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va. since the mid-1980s and served as co-moderator of the Form of Government Task Force from 2006 to 2010.

She also served as executive vice president and corporate secretary of Bloomberg BNA, an information firm which covers a wide range of legal practice areas.

Despite the technical expertise needed to function in her General Assembly-level position, Bolbach said that wasn't at the center of her faith.

"At the heart of the gospel, at the heart of each community of faith that seeks to proclaim the gospel, is not structure or Form of Government," she said during an opening worship sermon at the 220th General Assembly in June of this year.

"At the heart of the gospel lie disciples like these in Mark who are willing to take risks, willing to do whatever it takes to help others see Jesus," she said. "Not just [carry] those whom they like, but maybe even [carrying] those they don't know, those they don't like. Willing to go up to the roof, willing to cut a hole in it."

She said she had seen such disciples working in the denomination and had felt their support as she battled against cancer.

"Many disagree with me, but they have reached out to help me to the roof, and carried me to see Jesus…. None of [our disagreements] matter without disciples who are willing to take risks for the sake of the gospel. Let's not worry about process and structure; instead, let's pray that we will be given the faith that Jesus saw in those disciples," she said.

In 2010 at the 219th General Assembly, Bolbach likened the denomination to a paralyzed man who was "paralyzed by fatigue, uncertainty, fear, grief over the loss of the kind of church some of us have known or and loved all our lives."

However in 2012, she said her viewpoint on the matter had shifted.

"Two years later, I have a different focus and a different point of view," she said. "I do not believed the PC(USA) is paralyzed … although we are light years removed from the 2950s during which denominationalism and church structure thrived, we are actively engaged and concerned with what God would have us do and be."

She urged assembly attendants to commit themselves to be risk-taking disciples to lift up those they may not know or like.

If that happened, she said "we will soar on wings like eagles, we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not grow faint because we will be helping people see Jesus. What more could we ask for?"

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